Some of our favorite outdoor-safe accessories are crafted from volcanic ash. It’s not just the natural strength and weathered patina of the organic material that we love. It’s also the story of how these hand crafted items came to be and what it means for the artisans who make them. Here is their story.
In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines, producing the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century. The volcano produced high-speed avalanches of hot ash and gas, giant mudflows and a cloud of volcanic ash hundreds of miles across. On the same day, a typhoon struck the island, which mixed with the ash deposits and caused massive lahars. The ash cloud, made up of tiny fragments of pulverized rock, minerals and volcanic glass, covered an area of 48,000 square miles, bringing total darkness to much of the area and producing ashfall in places as far as away as Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.
Fortunately, successful predictions of the eruptions led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving many lives, including several thousand indigenous people who lived in the surrounding forest.
However, the heavy ashfalls and many subsequent lahars severely devastated many communities and villages for years to come, and families who were forced to move could no longer depend on farming to support them. With assistance from the government, many of the evacuees found new employment by working with the very thing that had ruined their lives.
The resettled villagers began to use the abundant volcanic ash to create art, forming pottery, figurines, candle holders and more from the organic ash deposits. And because the annual rains continued to bring new volcanic ash down from the mountain, the artisans had a renewable supply of raw material for their newly established trade.
This truly unique art is a beautiful example of how the people from Mount Pinatubo rose from the ruins and ashes to transform their own lives. And now you know that when you buy an item from us that’s made from volcanic ash, you’re supporting a sustainable living for the many artisans of Mount Pinatubo.
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