The "rag doll" project: circular Portuguese crafts and traditions ready to cross borders

Ó Boneco logo
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Project elaborated in partnership
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Centro Social de Ermesinde
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The Ó Boneco (literally "rag doll" in Portuguese) project was born out of a desire to design a tailor-made training combining handicrafts and the traditions of the municipality of Valongo in Portugal. The project, organised by the Centro Social de Ermesinde (Ermesinde Social Centre), was intended for unemployed people and young people at risk of social exclusion.

In the course of the training project a family of rag dolls representing local customs and traditions - among them the miner, the paperboy, the washerwoman, the sharpener, the harvester, the baker, the fishmonger, etc. - were made out of recycled materials, in the name of circular economy. The sets were made with recycled wooden boxes, and decorated with old photographs of the region and the country. The first dolls were conceived by experienced artisans, followed by young people eager to learn. 

The particularity of handiwork lies in the fact that it is exclusive, unrepeatable and timeless. There are no two identical dolls.

Main results

The project is still ongoing. The aim now is to present and disseminate it and take the dolls “beyond borders” in order to promote this handicraft, its environmentally sustainable raw material, popular culture and handiwork in crafts shops and tourist points of interest.

Its key words are:

  • Learning, growth and work: 6 unemployed women (between 20 and 55 years of age) now involved
  • Collaborative partnership with Faculty of Economics in Porto (Economics and Social Policy),  SOGRAPE Group and Porto Cálem (for wooden boxes)
  • Economy and social development: volunteers of the European Solidarity Corps promoting the project on digital/social networks etc.; support by CLDS4G Program
  • Circular economy: all materials used for the dolls are waste coming from local companies.