Cane Fields

For most of us in Sri Lanka "Wewaldeniya" evokes a peculiar small village that appears suddenly as you take a sharp bend on the road to Kandy. Lined with small open-air shops with cane products tumbling out on to the roadside, the village ends as abruptly as it begins: at the end of another bend. The translation of the village name, Wewaldeniya, is field of Cane. The village was once famous for every imaginable cane product from baskets, bags, lampshades, chairs, and just about anything possible: All made from cane. Perhaps long before the road-side shops and the crafts arrived, the town was indeed a field of cane. It would make sense for the craftspeople of the village to use a readily available material to make products. It's not uncommon is Sri Lanka for places to be named after something of significance to the place in question. When travelling from Colombo, Wewaldeniya is shortly after "Kadjugama" (Cashew village) and the names and quaint aesthetics would fit comfortably into an Enid Blyton.

However, on recently visiting Wewaldeniya, Isle of Artisans found that fewer shops adorned the street and a large number of the roadside shops remaining in the area were poorly stocked with products, and the shop keepers did not know the suppliers, source, or if the products were even made locally. With great difficulty we identified one artisan who still knew and practiced the craft to make their own products.

Isle of Artisans is working with the cane craftsman to create modern and marketable cane products. We are currently hoping to add more independent cane artisans to this production line and have added one more elderly cane craftsman from Monaragala (Peacock stone).

The two cane craftsmen are working together remotely to increase production and create a collection of distinct cane products. The collections combine skill sets from different artisans in Sri Lanka and also incorporates off cut leather trimmings. We will work with these individuals and groups and reconnect them to a viable market with the aim of reviving the craft and creating viable sources of income for the artisans.

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