We were contacted by the organisation Mesteshukar ButiQ that recently started working with the development, manufacturing, and distribution of Roma crafts products as an initiative to map, develop and maintain some of the traditional crafts of the Romanian Roma. In the summer of 2014 we traveled around Romania to visit several different artisans that MBQ are working with.
In the winter and throughout the year of 2015 we have been to Romania several times to work together with Maria who is working with Hazel weaving, Zoli who is working with wicker weaving and Victor who is working with copper.
Travelling around in Romania, drinking Palinka, traditionally made in the beautiful Copper distillery units of the Roma, eating cookies and being warmly welcomed in every home we came to visit. Saying no thanks to sugar in the coffee, and driving a Skoda Fabia with an oval wheel, – we managed to come up with some products. Both with Maria and Zoli we have been focusing more on utility items like baskets that can be sold directly by Mesteshukar ButiQ. And with Victor who is working with a more exclusive material and extremely refined technique we have done a small series of very well crafted copper stools and tables fitted together just like the traditional distillery units.
When talking to Maria, Victor and Zoli about the future of their crafts they paint a sad picture. From new generations that are not willing to take over the craft, to a market flooded by cheaper products produced elsewhere. But they all agree that the work of Mesteshukar ButiQ is good and might be part of a solution to make their craft viable and interesting once again.