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Ardingly Antiques Fair

A short post from me this morning on Ardingly Antiques Fair, held at the South of England showground near Ardingly, west Sussex, which starts tomorrow, 18th June, for two days.  It’s the largest antiques market in the south east of England  and there is something for everyone, from the serious antique collector to the vintage furniture and textiles enthusiast.  If you are looking for something different for your home, or just enjoy rummaging at markets it’s worth a visit.    A few snapshots (taken on my iPhone so please excuse the quality) from my last visit below:

Textiles

You can usually find a range of antique and vintage European linens and old grain sacks.

 Linen-and-ticking

Vintage European hemp and linen

Welsh-blanketsA selection of vintage Welsh tapestry and traditional check blankets

 

If you are interested in textiles, look out for  Wayward, which is also at Portobello Road market on Fridays, selling vintage haberdashery, trimmings, ribbons, suiting and shirting, and old pattern books.

 

Unusual Finds

I’m not keen on taxidermy but it seems to be popular at the moment and there was a stall with everything from a stoat and a peacock, to a stuffed alsatian and the alligator below.

Taxidermy

Taxidermy

Old Containers And Agricultural Equipment

I’m always on the look out for something other than boring, conventional, pots for the garden and there were lots of interesting old containers at Ardingly: old milk churns, slightly battered round tin containers with handles, glass bottles and jars, all of which make great plant holders.  I found these lovely old ceramic jars on one of the Hungarian stalls.  They aren’t watertight but are perfect for the garden.

 Hungarian-ceramic-jars2

 

 Hungarian ceramic jars

More information on the fair can be found at: http://www.iacf.co.uk/ardingly/.

PET lamps from Studio Alvaro Catalan de Ocon

PET lamps from Studio Alvaro Catalan de Ocon in a cafe in Ibiza

 

These fabulous lamps, made from reused polyethylene teraphthalate (PET) plastic bottles, from Studio Alvaro Catalan de Ocon are on my wishlist.  I came across this clever contemporary design project, which combines the reuse of PET bottles with the traditional weaving skills of Columbia’s displaced artisans to create these amazing light installations, in a roundup of Milan’s furniture fair in World of Interiors.  I love the way that these lamps not only help tackle the problem of plastic bottles contaminating the Colombian Amazon but also utilise the traditional handicraft skills of displaced local weavers and provide them with an income.

Lamp Design And Production

Alvaro Catalan de Ocon, the Spanish product designer behind the project says,”We took advantage of the bottle top to join the electrical components to the lamp shade, the neck as the structure and the body of the bottle as a surface on which to weave. The principle of weaving is reinterpreted and the surface of the bottle is converted into the warp through which the artisan weaves the weft.

Weaving-the-plastic

Weaving the plastic bottles into lampshades

In the same way that the tracking number printed on the bottles neck tells us of its production, where it was bottled and its destined market, the weaving created by the artisan tells us of their tradition by way of its fibres, colours and motifs.”

Alvaro and his team worked with two groups of artisans from the Cauca region of Columbia who had recently been displaced by guerrilla war and were living in difficult circumstances in Bogota.  Both groups are known for their weaving skills, the Eperara-Siapidara use the fibres from the Paja Tetera palm tree for traditional crafts which they then die with natural pigments and the Guambianos from the central mountain range of the Andes weave wool and cotton using symbols and motifs which date back to the Incas.

The Final Product

Weaver-with-light1 Weaver2

Domingo Ullurie and Maria Stella Cuchillo with their finished lamps.

As you can see the lamps take on the patterns and colours of the traditional clothing and each piece is unique.

The-designer-with-lampsThe designer, Alvaro Catalan de Ocon, with a selection of lamps in a range of styles, colours and patterns

PET-lamp-in-situA PET lamp installation in the Eperara Siapidara Courtyard.

If you are in London and want to see the lights, there is an installation on the ground floor of the Conran Shop in Marylebone High Street.  The lamps can be purchased individually or in sets of 3, 6, 12 and 21 and you can choose the individual lamps.  I have my eye on a set as I like the visual mix of colours, styles and patterns and think they would create a real focal point in a room.  The PET lamps website is www.petlamp.org.

Photographs and background information for this blog have been taken from PET lamps press information.

Jewels of the Desert – Indigenous Embroidery Styles

A snapshot of four different embroidery styles from the  region comprising the barren, desert lands of Kutch and Saurashtra in Gujarat to western Rajasthan and the Thar Parkar district of Sind in Pakistan, which has been described as the world’s richest source of indigenous embroidery.  From the bold flamboyant style of the nomadic Rabaris, to the delicate geometric patterns of the Rajput, to the intricate embroidery of the Jats, to the figurative style of the Kanbi, each tribal group passes on its own style, colours, range of stitches and motifs from generation to generation yet each piece is unique.   Each piece was painstakingly embroidered by a prospective bride for her dowry or a mother or wife for her family or her home and each piece reflects not only tribal traditions but also the individual artistic interpretation and abilities of the embroiderer.

Detail-Rabari-dowry-sack

Detail from Nagina in the Maud collection, originally part of a Rabari saddle bag, Kutch, Gujarat

Exotic patterns from the nomadic Rabari camel breeders, cattle herders and shepherds.  Bold, vibrant, designs in pink, orange, blue and green thread featuring abstract motifs, like the stylised parrots in hot pink in the centre.

Detail-small-Rabari-bag

Detail from a Rajput chakla (a square wall hanging), Saurashtra, Gujarat

A subtle geometric style from the Rajputs a ruling cast of farmers and herders.  Their work is characterised by square and diamond patterns, open chain stitch and shisha or abla (pieces of mirrored glass).  I love the mix of colours in this piece which will be available in our store soon.

Jat3

Detail from the bodice of a Jat choli (traditional backless blouse), Kutch, Gujarat

Abstract florals and geometric patterns are characteristic of Jat embroidery, known for its intricacy and density.  The embroidery is set out in a grid like structure with rows of round or pear shaped shisha or abla (mirrored glass work) and the pattern will typically cover the fabric.

Ganesh-chakla-Kanbir

Detail from a Kanbi chakla (wall hanging), Saurashtra, Gujarat

Figurative embroidery from the Kanbi, a farming caste.  The Kanbi is known for its wall hangings depicting images of Ganesh, the elephant- headed God, the remover of obstacles to happiness.  This piece will be available in the Maud collection soon.

We would love to hear what you think about these different styles.

Jewels of the desert – the Maud collection

There is a story behind each of the products in our launch collection so today I thought I would talk about our vintage, hand embroidered cushions and wall hangings, aptly described as “Jewels of the desert” because of the striking contrast between the vivid colours and the arid, desert region they originate from.  I came across this vibrant, intricate, embroidery two years ago whilst travelling in India and as I adore textiles and am passionate about design and colour I fell in love with them and was compelled to return to India to find out more about them.

I travelled to the dusty, barren, Kutch desert bordering Pakistan, a region where for generations embroidery has been an integral part of daily life for indigenous women.  Women were responsible for embroidering clothing for both domestic and ceremonial use.  It was customary to produce richly embellished pieces as part of a young women’s dowry and items would include clothing for the bride and groom, wedding shawls, quilt covers, wall hangings, small bags for tobacco and other products and saddle bags and other trappings for the livestock.

Traditionally girls would start embroidering items for their dowries from as young as six years old using stitches, symbols and motifs handed down from mother to daughter over generations and incorporating them into their own unique designs.  When you look at the embroidery in detail and see the complexity of the stitches you can appreciate that some of the pieces have taken months and sometimes longer to produce.

 

Saloni, fragments of ceremonial costumes

 

 

 

I was amazed by the diversity of embroidery styles and the range of colour combinations and I will talk about this in a later blog but briefly this is due to the fact that each indigenous group has its own style of embroidery, ranging from the geometric pieces of the semi nomadic camel breeding Jats, to the flamboyant open chain stitch embroidery of the nomadic Rabaris.  The embroidery serves more than a domestic purpose; it is a visual expression of cultural identity.  It is possible to determine the tribe, religion and social status of an individual from the style of embroidery a person is wearing.

Included here are two different styles of  dowry embroidery, the one above  is my favourite wall hanging, Saloni, which comprises sections of intricately embroidered ceremonial clothing using gold and silver  thread combined with pinks and blues.  The piece below, is Naguni, a piece of Rabari embroidery which was originally half of a saddle bag.

Naguni, Rabari embroiderySadly these intricate hand embroidered pieces are becoming rare.  Progress brings change and improved transportation, migration to cities for work, access to modern media combined with the introduction of synthetic fabrics like polyester and cheap ready-to-wear clothing have all contributed to the decline in traditional indigenous embroidery.  Economic hardship has forced women to work on cheap, mass produced imitations for the tourist trade for subsistence wages and some tribes, like the Rabaris, have banned dowry embroidery because the quantity of items demanded and the expense and time to produce them became too onerous on families.  Fortunately there are several NGOs working in the region trying to preserve this unique art form.

Launch Competition – Win A Luxury Copper Tea Light Holder

Welcome to our blog,

As I write this post we are all bleary eyed and suffering from sleep deprivation here at Maud HQ.  We’ve been burning the midnight oil for a good few days now trying to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and get the shopping cart to function prior to launch.  Hopefully, by the time you read this, all will be resolved but please do email us and let us know if you spot any gremlins.

This is the first posting of what I hope will be weekly postings on the stories behind the handicrafts in our launch collection, including interviews with some of the artisans and NGOs we work with, travel, textiles, interiors, markets and things that catch my eye along the way.  To start off we want to celebrate the launch of Maud interiors by offering you the chance to win one of these fabulous handmade copper tea light holders.

 

Newsidetealight

These  nature inspired copper pods are made by the Tambat coppersmiths in Maharashtra, India.  We love the combination of contemporary design and traditional handicraft skills.  They give off a warm golden glow when lit and reflect the light on the outside due to tiny indentations which create a mirror-like appearance.  These indentations are made by profiled beating hammers, there are different hammers for different copper products, and this technique ,known as matharkaam, is the distinguishing feature of the Tambat coppersmiths.  It is a highly skilled craft requiring strength, dexterity and keen hand-foot-eye coordination.

The Tambat people have been handcrafting copper ware since the seventeenth century.  They originally worked for the Peshwar rulers making armour, coins and cannons but with industrialisation and British laws they were forced to turn their attention to providing utensils and ceremonial objects for the public.  The community has been declining over the years:  in the 1970s there were 800 households and now there are only about 80 – 100 households remaining.   Fortunately INTACH, an Indian NGO, has created a social enterprise to introduce contemporary designs, skills development and marketing support to revive this traditional craft and these wonderful copper pods are just part of that initiative.  We have more copper products from the Tambat community coming soon so pop back to the site to find out what’s new, sign up for our newsletter in the footer below, or check out our Facebook page for updates.

In the meantime, here is how you can win our launch giveaway.  All you have to do is like, share and comment over on our Maud interiors Facebook page and tell us why you deserve a Copper Pod tea light holder.  The winner will be announced on the blog on Thursday 16th May 2013.  Good luck!