HELLO TRAVELERS! Welcome to our blog where you’ll find out more about Tingomo, discover fun DIY projects, learn about world cultures, and get tips on globetrotting with the whole family. You’ll also delve into the artisan traditions behind our Passport Craft Kits (in future posts you can read about the symbolism behind Mexican Huichol Yarn Art, or why Moroccan zellij tile artisans make their art upside-down, or how women in Nepal make paper without using trees) and meet the non-profits we partner with around the world.
IT STARTED WITH A MOSAIC TILE // I started Tingomo as a way to teach people about world cultures through traditional crafts. I got the idea when I was looking for a way to teach my kids and their classmates about Moroccan culture (where I had served as a Peace Corps* volunteer). We read books, looked at pictures, learned our names in Arabic, ate dates, and made drums. But of all the activities we did, the kids most loved making mosaic tile frames with me. I realized that hands-on crafts were a great way to get people making something creative while sparking curiosity and respect for cultures around the globe.
The original craft activity at my daughter’s school when I was teaching the kids about Moroccan culture and the holiday of Ramadan. The kids had to find their name in Arabic letters (which go from right to left) before gluing tiles on their picture frame.
TIN-WHAT? // I started gathering materials to make crafts from other countries I had visited and trying them out with friends and family, and they loved it. I decided to start a business so I could use a portion of sales to support non-profits, but I still needed a name. I knew we would have three goals: promote creativity, teach world cultures, and care for people and the planet. I turned to the places where my husband and I had studied abroad in college: Kathmandu, Nepal and Durban, South Africa. “Tin” is the Nepali word for three, and “gomo” is part of the Zulu word for goals. Tin + gomo = three goals.
CRAFT YOUR OWN WAY // Every kit comes from a country where I personally have spent time. I start by learning about traditional techniques and materials and then adapt them, if necessary, to make the craft more fun for first-timers, or to use sustainable materials. In addition to high-quality materials and easy-to-follow instructions, kits come with a guide booklet to the local geography, language, culture, and crafts, as well as a country “stamp” (sticker) to collect in your Tingomo passport. People of all ages love doing the crafts with us - younger makers have a blast using the materials in more imaginative ways, while older kids and adults enjoy practicing traditional methods and designs.
Some younger crafters proudly hold up their Mexico Yarn Art, made with a lot of creativity and imagination.
A teen crafter tackles the Nepal Paper Lantern with precision.
WE LOVE OUR CUSTOMERS // We love hearing all the ways people use their Tingomo Passport Craft kits. A family therapist uses the crafts to connect with her young clients. She uses the passport to explain that they are going on a journey together, and she has used our Nepal Accordion Book kit to help kids take control of their own stories. Because our kits typically come with materials to make two of the craft, we often hear that parents and kids use Tingomo time as quality time to makes something together, or that two siblings will show off their creative streaks by making their crafts in different ways. Our Mexico Painted Tile or Mexico Yarn Art kits come with traditional designs to try, or can be treated as a blank canvas to express a unique personality. Teachers and homeschoolers also love having a ready-to-go activity that teaches kids geography, world cultures, and builds important character traits like curiosity, respect, and empathy (pssst - we give away a class pack and homeschool pack every month - nominate yourself or someone else here.
Tingomo Passport Craft Kits come with enough materials to make two of the craft, as well as a Tingomo Passport and country stamp, country guide, and a 100% recycled box where you can store your craft or materials.
AT HOME IN LA, VT, AND THE WORLD // Tingomo is based in Woodbury, Vermont, where my family is from, and Los Angeles, California, where I live with my husband, two kiddos, and a clever cat. It’s a true family business: I develop and design our kits, my husband, JK, helps guide our non-profit partnerships and sustainability, and my dad, John, keeps operations and production running smoothly. My mom, Patti, edits our materials and spends extra time with her grandkids when things are busy at Tingomo. And so many friends and family have helped us get started, from testing kits, to volunteering in our booth, to spreading the word - thank you Team Tingomo!
CREATING JOB OPPORTUNITIES // We are gearing up for our first holiday season with the help of a local LA social enterprise, Chrysalis. Chrysalis offers job training and employment to folks who have experienced or are at risk of homelessness. As our staffing partner, they provide us with qualified, dedicated workers and we love meeting fellow Angelenos as we carefully prep and pack kits in the Tingomo studio.
Two of the Tingomo crew working hard hand-stamping boxes and preparing materials in the studio. We love hiring from a non-profit partner that provides job training and opportunity to Angelenos at risk of or transitioning out of homelessness.
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND KITS, THE PERFECT GIFT // Please check out our shop at tingomo.com to browse kits or to sign up for a quarterly subscription so you can travel to four new countries with us throughout the year. Last month's subscription kit, Morocco Painted Mosaic Tiles, arrived with ceramic tiles, acrylic paint, brushes, a wood frame, plaster, and a felt backing. After painting each individual tile, our crafters flip their tiles and assemble their mosaic coaster upside-down, just like real zellij artisans.
Our subscribers recently traveled to Morocco with these Painted Mosaic Tiles. This kit comes with custom tiles that you can paint and then fit together like a puzzle - just like traditional Moroccan artisans.
TRAVEL THE WORLD WITH TINGOMO // We hope you’ll join us on this journey by checking out this blog from time to time, following us on facebook or twitter (@tingomo), and instagram (@tingomocrafts) and telling your friends and family about us. And you can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fair winds and happy travels,
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*Peace Corps is a volunteer program that sends Americans to other countries for two years to bring technical skills and share cultures. By giving people around the world a positive and diverse experience of Americans, volunteers create important friendships between the U.S. and other countries.