Digital Guide for Handcrafters

About the Digital Guide:

The Digital Guide for Handcrafters is the 5th and final output of the project MyHandScraft – Migrants’ Hands and Skills to Create a Future Track, funded by the Erasmus + 2014-2020 programme, KA2 Strategic Partnerships in the field of Adult education. The guide was designed as a digital tool aimed at passing on to other handcrafters, or would-be handcrafters, the traditions and techniques shared during a series of 13 local workshops, addressed to 15 people per country (10 migrant and 5 local handcrafters), which were arranged in the framework of the MyHandScraft project based on one of its key outputs, the E-Educational Programme. It encompasses the cultural diversity brought by migrant participants and their cultural heritages, and routes it towards inter-cultural dialogue and cross-cultural learning with the host society. In this tool migrants become themselves educators through their direct testimony, stimulating and inspiring others to exploit their skills or to develop new ones.

The guide was created through the innovative methodology of digital storytelling: migrant and local adult handcrafters who participated in the local workshops were encouraged to share their stories throughout the project activities. These testimonies were collected and digitalized in video interviews and tutorials of handicraft products. The result is a digital tool that combines text, images and videos telling the personal stories of local and migrant participants through the handicraft history of the cultures they represent.

The testimonies included in this guide were collected in all partner countries: Italy, UK, Cyprus, Greece and Lithuania.

The guide is structured in four core parts:

My Story

providing an overview of migrant learners’ stories of their affiliation with the cultural heritage and of their integration’s difficulties in a new context;

My Skills

a review of the learning path done, from the self-recognition of the skills already owned to the acquisitions of new ones;

My Hands

a selection of video-tutorials of the handicraft products created together with local handcrafters, with a step-by-step showcase of the process, thus allowing for an easy replication.

My future Track

a summary of some of the future plans made by the involved handcrafters on how to exploit their newly-discovered skills and potential, and the entrepreneurial ideas emerged throughout the process.

Digital Guide for Handcrafters

Download here the guide in printable version.

National Context

The five partner countries of the MyHandScraft project, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Lithuania and the UK are home to very different ancient handicraft traditions. Over the past years, these traditions have often encountered, merged and created synergies with new experiences brought by the arrival of newcomers from different parts of the world. The many new, innovative ideas that result from this mutual sharing and exchange are proof that the valorisation of cultural heritage and the horizontal exchange of knowledge and skills is a privileged means to foster successful intercultural encounters.

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Italy

The local handicraft context in Palermo is very vibrant. Ancient local handicraft traditions have survived in the city center, while at the same time the arrival of newcomers has allowed many other traditions from different parts of the world to merge into the local context. This encounter often gave birth to innovative handicraft entrepreneurial projects, creating work opportunities and giving security to many local and migrant families. ALAB, for example, is a diffused microeconomy network that has requalified the historical centre through the opening of small independent handicraft shops. They aim to promote creative handicraft as a tool for cultural innovation and a fundamental economic and productive resource for the territory, also using the growth in the tourism sector as leverage to relaunch an industry that is more and more oppressed in many urban areas of the world. Many other realities in Palermo share this vision and promote the rebuilding of the handicraft sector from the bottom, in inclusive and innovative ways.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is an island country located off the North-western coast of mainland Europe. The United Kingdom comprises of four geographic and historical parts- England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland- and is home to nearly 64 million people. The UK has an incredibly diverse population, so British traditions have been enriched by the people who settled in or visited the country. Traditional British crafts include pottery, glass and jewellery making, calligraphy, embroidery, basketmaking, blacksmithing and more. Some traditional crafts are disappearing, whilst some are making a comeback. The techniques, designs and materials are slightly changing, as is the population and demographic of the British Isles.

Cyprus

Cyprus is an island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea with a population of 1,1 million people. The country hosts a large number of foreigners. Due to its position located some 170 km off the Lebanese coast and 70 km off the Turkish coast, Cyprus has become an increasingly popular entry point for migrants trying to reach the EU.

The country has a long history in tradition, often influenced by the people who passed through the country over the years. The main handicraft traditions of Cyprus are: embroidery; weaving; woodwork; pottery; metalwork; general handicrafts; leatherwork; costume making and lefkaritiko lace making. The country has developed a systematic revival of traditional folk art on the basis of modern handicrafts, through experimental workshops in the aforementioned handicraft fields. Locals, tourists, foreigners and migrants have the opportunity to explore and experience those handicraft traditions, and contribute in keeping the Cypriot heritage alive.

The Cypriot tradition is strengthened and enriched by foreigners living in the island from countries such as Syria, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Nepal and Egypt. Those countries have a lot of similarities with Cyprus, related to the culture, customs, habits, food etc.

Greece

The recent financial crisis and socio-economic changes of the last ten years that have been taking place in the country, have led to an enhanced stability of the handcraft field. Handcrafters have only recently gained back their professional status. To overcome the financial downturn, many people (especially women) have turned to the handcraft sector growing to a more entrepreneurial attitude. This allowed many locals to overcome unemployment while making the economy thrive.  As the handicraft sector is a huge cultural heritage for the country, the plethora of different handicraft activities allowed individuals to acquire new skills and learn new techniques. Third-country nationals, especially women, bring a variety of sewing, knitting and embroidery skills from their homelands and can combine modern designs with traditions from their countries. There are a lot of immigrant and refugee women who work in the fashion industry in Greece especially on embroidery techniques.

Lithuania

Officially called the Republic of Lithuania, it is a state in the central part of Europe, on the south-eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. At the beginning of 2020, 2.79 million people lived in Lithuania. The largest nation in Lithuania is Lithuanians, they make up more than 86% of the total population. Lithuanians make up the majority of the population in all municipalities, except Vilnius district and Šalčininkai district. The largest national minority in Lithuania is Polish. 

In Lithuania, handicrafts have become very popular, as can be on the Internet, social networks, various fairs and events. The Internet makes it easier for handicraft sellers to find buyers and promote various types of handicrafts.

The most popular handicrafts practiced in the country (either by Lithuanians or by foreigners from countries such as Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Poland) include: knitting, origami, carvings, scraping, decoupage, mosaics, ceramics, painting, soap making, embroidery, crochet, beading, jewellery making.