The beautiful brushes that we sell at reste are made by Swedish company Iris Hantverk. The company has a very interesting story to tell, one which gives 'hand made' a new meaning.
Iris Hantverk has strong ties with the visually impaired organisation in Sweden. The core of the business is the brush binding manufacturing at Sandsborgsvägen, Enskede – here five visually impaired craftsmen from different cultures make brushes according to an old Swedish tradition. The company also works with visually impaired craftsmen in Estonia who also have a history strongly connected to the visual impairments movement.
In the late 1800s a successful brush binding industry grew in Sweden. In 1870, Dr. Axel Beskov took the initiative of founding the Manilla School - a workhouse for visually impaired craftsmen in Stockholm. Initially there were nine people, most of them lived at the workhouse. The salary was 75 percent of product sales. Part of that went to pay the accommodation. Work began at 6am and didn't end until late in the evening.
In 1889 a group of visually impaired craftsmen founded a political independent organization, "De Blindas Förening", whose purpose was to encourage, the otherwise much isolated group of visually impaired artisans, to actively participate in society in different social contexts such as musical events and lectures, but primarily to work for equal rights and achieve a living wage.
In 1902 DBF decided that materials for brush binding and basket making would be purchased collectively in order to reduce prices and be sold to the visually impaired craftsmen for purchase price. In 1906 a property was bought on Majorsgatan 12, it accommodated a number of functions: office and library, brush binding factory, warehouse for raw materials, sales of raw material and a shop. These undertakings made the foundation for what Iris hantverk is today.
Iris Hantverk continues to supply individual artisans across the country with raw materials.
"We care much for the craftsmen and the survival of the brush binding manufactory. We believe that many like us appreciate the feeling and quality of a hand drawn brush made of natural materials. "
Photos & story courtesy of Iris Hantverk