About Our Eco-Friendly Materials
Arcadia Home's earth-friendly designs are comprised mainly of five unique materials—glass, ceramic, alpaca, hand felted wool, and recycled cotton.
Most of our designs are hand-crafted by artisans in India, Peru, and Guatemala. The handmade process creates individual variations, making each piece truly unique.
Arcadia Home’s beautiful reverse painted mirror boxes and trays are hand painted in Peru by an artisan collective that operates under fair trade principles. The technique is a Renaissance glass art brought by Spaniards to Peru during the colonial period. Peruvian artisans mastered the technique and are today renowned for the attention to detail and quality of craftsmanship on display in these hand painted pieces.
The art of reverse glass painting takes time, patience, and precision. The artist paints the design on the underside of the glass, such that when the mirror is flipped, the design shows through. As paint dries very slowly on glass, each layer of paint, and every step in the process, is time-consuming and must be meticulously monitored.
Our mirror pieces come in a variety of designs and colors, and complement a wide range of decor. Arcadia Home is proud to be working with this artisan group, as the partnership underscores our wholehearted support of fair trade principles and artisan collaboration.
Arcadia Home has recently begun a collaboration with a family-run artisan workshop that operates near Antigua, Guatemala. With them, we have created a new line of colorful ornaments that are made of clay. This family workshop has been in production since the 1940s, for five generations. In creating clay figurines, they are preserving the long tradition of terracotta and ceramic craftsmanship that has been crucial to the development of Mesoamerica since prehistory. They continue their work despite the proliferation of plastic ornaments in the local market.
While this workshop continues to this day to produce the traditional products that the family is known for, including bird ornaments, it has also emerged as a primary force in the Guatemala handmade scene, motivating artisans throughout the region to innovate in design and technology. These artisans also set an important example in their region through their commitment to upholding fair trade principles.
For the past few years, Arcadia Home has had a fruitful relationship with a Fair Trade group in Peru in creating a line of hand knit items made of an alpaca blend. Alpaca is a natural fiber that comes from the world’s oldest domesticated animal. For thousands of years, alpacas have been bred exclusively for their coats, which produce some of the most luxurious fiber in the world.
But these lovely animals do much more than provide communities with a source for material to make clothing. They also give small family farmers a steady source of income and fabulous gardening fertilizer. The alpaca is one of the few herd animals that do not damage the terrain they graze on. The alpaca's two-toed feet are soft pads protected on the top and sides by toenails. Unlike hard hooves, they leave the terrain undamaged. As they graze, they only eat the top of the grass, rather than uprooting it as many other animals do.
The more we learn about this amazing animal and the marvelous women who knit our products the more enthusiastic we become about our work with them. Stay tuned for more great alpaca products—including additions to our popular line of cat and dog breed ornaments!
Our unique eco-friendly felt designs are hand felted, hand appliquéd and made from 100% sustainable wool. They are lovingly created by a group of artisans in India’s Rajasthan state.
Handmade felt has been used for hundreds of years as simple floor coverings in traditional Indian homes. The art of felt making started to die out not so long ago as demand for felt floor coverings dropped due to the widespread availability of inexpensive Chinese rugs. The lack of consistent demand for this traditional art caused many artisans to seek other occupations and to migrate to urban areas, away from their villages, homes and families. However, a small group of artisans continued to preserve the knowledge and the tradition of felt making. By partnering with Arcadia Home, an entire new income stream for the artisans was established and continues today. In addition to helping create a full time livelihood for the artisans making the felt, we are also helping to support the sheepherders and the seamstresses. The women who sew the appliqué are able to work from their homes a few hours a day giving them income that they tend to spend on the health and education of their children thereby extending the benefit to the entire community.
We are very proud that after we began working with our artisan partners in Rajasthan, they were recognized by the Government of India and awarded the honor of "Best Innovation in Crafts for International Markets" based on the Christmas items they produced for us that are so popular in the United States.
Arcadia Home's sustainable recycled cotton products are created using cotton salvaged from the apparel industry in India. The items are made from "khadda" - the unbleached hand spun rags left over from garment industry production. No harsh chemicals or dyes are used in processing the material and the 100% cotton products are water-resistant and handmade.
By crafting designs from recycled cotton, a new industry has sprung up in an area where urban sprawl has edged out once plentiful jobs in the traditional farming community. With any available farmland now being used to construct housing, farming no longer provides a livelihood for most of the local population. Instead of having to travel to another place for work these workers are trained to make our products and are able to live and work in the same community as their forbearers using a new skill and providing for their families.