How Traditional Felt Ornaments are Creating Social Change in Nepal

(Watch this video to learn how to craft traditional felt ornaments that create social change.)

Welcome to Nepal

Nepal is filled with charming rural crafting villages, historic architecture, and timeless landscapes. But Nepal is also home to centuries-old traditions that continue to discriminate, oppress, and exploit women as lower-class citizens. 

Many Nepali women are completely financially dependent and are denied any rights to travel, work, or vote without a male relative’s permission. Vulnerable parents in Nepal’s poorest communities often give their daughters away as child brides or fall prey to false promises from human traffickers, hoping to provide their daughters with better lives.  

Every year, thousands of Nepali women, including underage girls, are trafficked out of the country into adult entertainment industries or sold as slaves without rights, freedoms, or voices. Through simple doable solutionslike creating dignified jobs for women, our Artisan partners are using positive Nepali traditionslike felt crafting, to create social change. 

Using the Artisan techniques passed down by their ancestors, women still create felt mixtures from natural sheep wool, soap, and water.  

Cozy Mitten Ornaments

Our Cozy Mitten Ornaments begin as clumps of natural sheep wool that are dyed festive holiday red, using azo-free dyes, and then pulled by hand into flat even layers that are spread over a thin cloth.

Covering the felt mixture with another thin cloth, Artisans sprinkle soap and water over the fabric and thoroughly rubbing it in.

Tightly rolling up the cloths, they press and roll the mixture with their hands to bond the fibers together.  

To create the festive polka-dot pattern, a final layer of white wool circles is added, and the rolling process is repeated. 

Once each sheet of felt is dry, Artisans hand hammer mitten shapes using a metal die and then sew them together to create pockets for stashing gift cards and other holiday surprises!  

From start to finish, the handcrafting process for one set of Cozy Mitten Ornaments takes Artisans one-and-a-half days to complete.

These ornaments provide dignified work for thirty-eight women and one male Artisan. 

PHOTO: Laxmi, Artisan from Nepal, making our Cozy Mitten Ornaments

Every adorable Puppy Duo Ornament is formed by hand using traditional Nepali felt crafting techniques.

Puppy Duo Ornaments

After drying in the sun, each puppy is stuffed and dressed up for holiday fun with a hand sewn coordinating hat, scarf, and holiday gift – a bone or festive mistletoe! 

These Puppy Duo Ornaments are providing opportunities for the next generation of Nepali women to become independent and pursue their dreams by making it possible for Artisans like Ranjana to go to school! 

When you purchase our Puppy Duo Ornaments and Cozy Mitten Ornaments, you are empowering women who are fighting for social change in Nepal and opening the door for the next generation of Nepali women to enjoy safe, dignified, and meaningful futures by making them less vulnerable to human trafficking. 

Trades of hope is partnering to create social change for women in Nepal.

You can partner to create social change for women in Nepal.

Kathy Thomas
About Kathy Thomas
Kathy Thomas is an inspirational writer with a passion for helping women discover and celebrate their unique gifts and abilities. Kathy is part of the Communication Team at Trades of Hope focusing on Artisan Development.

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