Chilean crafts originate from a culture rich in tradition. Using local resources, the people of Chile weave vibrant textiles and rugs, craft unique jewelry, construct musical instruments, fashion beautiful baskets from native reeds and weave dyed horsehair into delicate objects. Children who learn the crafts of Chile gain the skills and knowledge passed from generation to generation by Chilean artisans.
Bubbled-Glass Bead Jewelry
Chilean artisans craft beautiful bubbled-glass jewelry by a process known as glass fusion. Often hand-painted with swirls, the bubbled glass is fired in a kiln to create striking one-of-a-kind colors.
With parents' help, children can create replicas of Chilean bubbled-glass jewelry by buying natural stone or glass beads with attached pendant settings, then stringing cord through the ring loops. Pendant stones are available at craft stores and online jewelry suppliers.
Made from the dried remains of capado cacti, traditional Chilean rainsticks are used in ceremonies to call for rain. The process of crafting a Chilean rainstick consists of removing the bark and interior from a portion of the capado cactus and interweaving cactus spines in the rainstick. Lava pebbles placed inside the rainstick tumble back and forth, creating the sound of rain when the holder turns the rainstick over.
With adult supervision, children can make a homemade rainstick by using a heavy-duty cardboard tube with nails driven through it at intervals and dried beans or rice placed inside. Glue caps fashioned from cardboard on either end of the tube to keep the beans or rice from falling out. (See the Resources section for details on making your own rainstick.)
Homemade maracas make a beautiful and fun Chilean craft for children. Credited for naming the maraca, the Araucanian people populated central Chile and Argentina before the arrival of the Incas and Spaniards. Made of gourds filled with seeds or other objects, maracas produce a smooth, salsa-like rhythm when shaken.
Children can make maracas from dried gourds bought at a craft store or farmer’s market. Cutting a small hole in the gourd opens a space to pour 2 tablespoons of beans inside. A wooden dowel glued into the hole creates the handle of the maraca. Paint gourd maracas and let dry before playing them.
Rapa Nui Red-Feather Headdress
Tall headdresses made of red feathers adorn the heads of Easter Island chiefs. Though not a craft typical of mainland Chile, Chile annexed Easter Island in 1888. Modeling home-crafted headdresses after the Rapa Nui chiefs exposes children to a distinct Polynesian culture governed by Chile.
Children can make Rapa Nui feather headdresses the same way they would make headdresses of the Great Plains Indians of America. Use imitation red feathers or turkey tail feathers and glue them to a triangular base cut from poster board. Attach the headdress to the child’s head by stringing twine through holes in the poster board base.