Watch this video to learn how our Capiz Snowflake Ornaments are made.
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 mollusks around the coastal regions during the summertime when the water is clear.
Picking each mollusk by hand, they gather them in bamboo baskets before loading them into small fishing boats.
Once the mollusks reach the shore, local women gather them for shucking, cleaning, drying, sizing, counting, and then selling to local Artisans. The sale of capiz shells to Artisans provides sustainable income for many families in coastal villages throughout the Philippine Islands.
Handcrafted in the Philippines
Artisans like Retchel craft these capiz shells into jewelry and home décor like these delicate snowflake-inspired ornaments. They begin by cutting the capiz into custom shapes, either by hand or using a special tool to punch large quantities of consistent sizes.
Each shell is then carefully cleaned and rinsed, once again, to ensure sterilization and enhance the natural color and the appearance of “frosted glass”.
Once dry, the cut shells are bound into metal frames.
Artisans then create the unique and whimsical wire scrolling and solder each individual piece together by hand to create the beautiful snowflake frames.
Each frame is then electroplated to prevent tarnishing.
Finally, Artisans tie golden ribbons on each ornament and package them in sets of three, so you can hang them throughout your holiday home to create an icy winter wonderland.
Keeping Families Together
Fair-trade jewelry and home décor products provide women and families living in isolated communities around the world opportunities to earn income using local renewable materials.
Without these opportunities to earn income, many families will live for generations in extreme poverty.
Even purchases made by local tourists are usually sold at steep discounts and don’t generate enough consistent income to support Artisans and their families year round.
Purchasing the products Artisans create through fair-trade sources makes a lasting positive impact on the lives of families like Retchel’s.
For years, Retchel’s husband has traveled six days every week to provide for their family’s basic needs, leaving Retchel alone to care for their three children.
During these lonely times, Retchel began visiting her friend who handcrafted jewelry from capiz shells.
Retchel, Capiz Jewelry Artisan in the Philippines
Fascinated by the beauty of capiz, she was inspired to learn the craft of binding and finishing capiz jewelry. Her work as a fair-trade Artisan has relieved many of their family’s financial pressures and even allowed them to begin saving toward their dream of starting a business. Retchel is hopeful that soon her husband won’t have to leave them anymore.