Above: Allison and Claudia launching their new range of aprons at Etain Hickey Collections
Cocoa Husk Designs, Clonakilty Chocolate’s little sister, has just introduced to West Cork a new range of beautiful textiles using batiks and hessians that are inspired by chocolate and West Africa. The handmade aprons, napkins and meditation cushions echo the colours and textures of Ghana and are guaranteed to bring the memory of sunshine into your wintery Irish home.
The batik fabrics used by Cocoa Husk are imported from Global Mamas, a Fairtrade cooperative from the region in Ghana where Clonakilty Chocolate sources its cocoa beans. Because there are only two cocoa harvests a year, small industries such as fabric production are vital to provide a source of income for cocoa farmers and their families in the off season. Batik plays a large part in West African culture – batiks of a unique colour and pattern are often used as company or school uniforms and expertise in dying batiks has been passed down from generation to generation.
Clonakilty Chocolate’s chief cocoa roaster and winnower (the process of removing the cocoa bean from the husk), studied fashion design and saw an opportunity to use her skills to bring another West African ‘treat for the senses’ to West Cork, this time a visual treat. Claudia transforms the batiks and hessians in her home studio in Clonakilty, which is just around the corner from the chocolate factory.
Cocoa Husk Designs was officially launched last month at Etain Hickey Collections, where well-wishers were invited to also try some warming tea, stout, soaps and lip balms – all made using cocoa husks left over from chocolate production. Clonakilty Chocolate’s Allison Roberts has discovered new ways of using the husk so that none of the cocoa farmers labour goes to waste; she has created an anti-oxidant-rich tea and has supplied brewers Black’s of Kinsale with husks to flavour a special and limited edition of their beer. Allison is also sharing husks with Robyn Allen, who uses them in her new range of soaps and lip balms.
Cocoa Husk products are available wherever you see Clonakilty Chocolate in local markets, from clonakiltychocolate.com and at Etain Hickey Collections, Clonakilty. The aprons are priced at €42 and would make the perfect gift for a keen cook or baker this Christmas.