Cambodians are renowned for their generous, humble and kind nature. For those who have been there this reputation rings true throughout the whole country. Hand in hand with this there is an ever-present undertone of grief known only to a country that has seen horror and experienced great loss. It was in the 1970’s that the savage Pol Pot regime brought civil war to Cambodia and still renders its mark with 30% of people living below the poverty line. However, this tragic history does not impede on the spirit of the Cambodian people and it is amazing to see a country building and developing for a positive future.
Now on the tourist trail, economic growth is evident and Cambodia is seeing a turnaround. Cambodians themselves are determined to work towards a more profitable country. Companies such as Craftworks Cambodia are dedicated to this cause by providing fair trade work to disadvantaged Cambodians for their arts, crafts and trades. CC is a company which works towards Cambodia’s growth and development by supporting individual families. Artist Chantha Thoeun and his wife Thearny Kol are a couple employed by the company and they work as jewelers creating beautiful and unique pieces. Chantha talks of his work with CC “I have more freedom and independence. I also have more time to take care of my daughter and son.” With incomes going to support families with babies and children as well as providing Jobs to other workers in the communities in Cambodia, CC’s efforts to build and work towards a strong future are unmistakable.
The types of goods that are created by CC’s artisans are distinctive and beautiful, touched with history. Postwar debris such as bomb casings and bullet shells are handcrafted into stunning, stylish pieces. It seems fitting to draw a parallel with the transformation of the pieces to that of Cambodia’s past as it moves towards a positive future.
One example of this transformation is with the Natural Stone Rings and hammered rings, which begin as found bomb casings and result in high quality, beautiful rings. The rings are bold and distinctive, yet the fine detailing of ‘CAMBODIA’ intricately branded into the inner brass gives the rings femininity. The brass material highlights the natural stone that is the focal point of the piece. The stone has standout style with a flawless finish and comes in a choice of polished black or semi-polished white.
CC also works with materials such as recycled paper and hand-woven silk to produce unique and inspired products, garments and jewelry. The Recycled Tubing Purses as the name denotes are made from recycled tubing creating an edgy and reworked design on a classic purse. The purses are eco friendly and ethically made by home based workers who are living with HIV/AIDS in the community. Every purse is handmade so each one possesses little unique qualities, making it your own. The overall style is chic and eye-catching with bright strips of textured material complementing against the black leather of the purse. The artisans of CC take pride in their work and strive for beauty and quality. Chantha talks of his work with CC,
"‘We will continue to try our best as we are so very pleased to produce jewelry for our customers through Craftworks Cambodia."
All works from Craftworks Cambodia as well as more information on the artisans and their stories can be found on The Craftworks Cambodia.