Throughout the Philippines, a country of over 7,000 tropical islands, many families struggle financially due to isolation with limited resources and job opportunities. For centuries, local families have depended upon their surrounding natural resources to overcome the challenges of island living.
What makes these capiz ornaments special?
Native marine mollusks have been a dependable and rapidly renewable source of vital nutrition and income for many island families for generations. The mollusk’s shell lining, known as capiz, has also been a foundational part of Filipino art and culture.
These capiz designs are created by local fair-trade workshops in the Philippines that provide safe jobs with fair wages for women. Every purchase provides income to a woman in an area of extreme poverty.
How does natural capiz shell become wearable art & home décor?
These elegant handcrafted capiz shell ornaments begin at the bottom of the sea surrounding the Philippine Islands. Named for its abundance in the province of Capiz, the capiz shell is the lining of a marine mollusk. Before glass was available in the Philippines, this shell was used to create windows because of its translucent qualities, earning the mollusk its nickname, “windowpane oyster.”
Local divers collect these native mollusks during the summertime when the surrounding coastal waters are clear. Picking each mollusk by hand, they gather them into bamboo baskets before loading them into small fishing boats.
On shore, local women shuck the mollusks for food, before cleaning, drying, sizing, counting, and selling the capiz shell lining to local Artisans. The sale of capiz is often the only source of income for many island families. Artisans like Emelyn transform these shells into wearable art and home décor. Discover Emelyn’s Story of Hope HERE.
They begin by cutting every capiz shell by hand – making each individual ornament special and unique to the Artisan who made it. The capiz shells are baked, soaked in peroxide to enhance the natural pearlized color, and then dried before a protective finish is applied.
From start to finish, these handcrafted natural capiz designs are a labor of love that create opportunities for families in the Philippines to thrive!
Check out all of these amazing designs made by Emelyn and her Artisan community in the Philippines!
Trades of Hope is partnering in the Philippines to provide safe jobs with sustainable wages for women in areas of extreme poverty.
Every purchase of our Capiz Starlight Ornaments provides fair-trade jobs for women in the Philippine Islands.