Softly-spoken Pirias is busy. He is preparing several items to take to a market and still needs to prepare for a workshop he will be hosting in a city that is hundreds of miles away from his hometown of Abaetetuba, in the state of Pará, extreme north of Brazil. Still, the artisan, real name José Plácido da Silva, finds a bit of time to chat to us. Abaetetuba is the home of toys made out of the pulp of miriti, a palm native to the north of the country and Pirias is the most recognized representative of this kind of craft in the whole of Brazil. The toy maker credits his fame and recent success – which includes a host of exhibitions and workshops across Brazil, as well as being picked as one of the few artisans to represent his state in the shops set up by the government during the
At Gift Brazil, we aim to make genuine Brazilian artisan art and craft available to the world. This means that our team is always on the road, all over Brazil meeting with artisans and encouraging them to join our collective. Recently we were up in the extreme north of Brazil in Belém. Then we went to the extreme west of the country in the Pantanal, the largest tropical wetland in the entire world – very close to the border with Bolivia. Some of the artisans we meet are in very remote places, but we don’t have many requirements for including someone in the collective – the main requirement is that they are producing interesting products that we would like to showcase online! Sometimes, we meet artisans that produce great work, but we just cannot include them in the Gift Brazil collective because they don’t use email or other basic technologies. All orders
Gift Brazil has been a fantastic adventure. Since December 2013, our Brazilian handicraft promotion and sale project has made it possible to travel to various parts of the country, where I learned a lot about local culture and handicrafts, and several artisans were successful in selling parts through our platform. However, I will put this project into a semi-pause at this point, while focusing on some new opportunities. First of all, I want to say openly that this is not the end of Gift Brazil. This project dwells in my heart, for the transforming power of artisanal production beyond merely decorative utility to be something that really interests me. Gift Brazil has always aimed to sell and promote original handmade products in Brazil to people in distant continents of our country. I wanted to go beyond the ‘made in China’ T-shirt whose print has an image of Christ the Redeemer.