Tag Archives: handcrafted

Raff Handbags

Raff Fair Trade Handbags

Raff bags

I had been looking for a small, sturdy, stylish and comfortable leather backpack for ages when I came across the Hugo backpack from Raff.   I was thrilled to discover a contemporary backpack, that can also be worn as a cross body bag, which has been handcrafted using traditional techniques.  Each bag is handmade in India according to Fair Trade principles.  We caught up with Raff’s Creative Head, Rashi Agarwal, to find out more about the brand.

 

Raff bags

How would you describe your brand?

Raff is inspired from the simplicity of minimalism. A contemporary brand but still traditional in the way that the bags are made. We focus on the details and the craftsmanship to provide great quality leather bags which are unique and stand the test of time. Raff supports Fair Trade and we pay fair wages to our craftsmen, which is an integral part of the brand.

Raff bag Maus

What inspired you to start a handcrafted leather bags company?

Leather is something that I love working with as it only gets better with age. After graduating in 2012 from London College of Fashion in Accessory design, with the extensive knowledge of leather bag making under my arsenal, I joined a leading leather handbag company in India as a Product Designer. Working there for two years gave me a good insight into how the leather handbag industry works. During this time I met my now fiance and partner Maurits. Designing and making handbags at home for myself was a hobby. A tote bag that I made (which is now called Maus, named after Maurits)(above) inspired us to develop the range and start our own leather bags company. We wanted to create something that is unique but is still practical and of top quality. We worked hard on the designs and the brand for two years before finally launching Raff in January, 2016.

Why buffalo leather?

Raff handbags are made of natural, vegetable tanned buffalo leather which is one of the strongest hides and provides durability to the bag. It is the perfect leather for hand stitching as it doesn’t stretch over-time. Also, our bags are quite unique in their shapes and it is an important design element. The buffalo leather holds the shape really well even with frequent use.
Raff bags
Raff bags
Raff bags

What makes a Raff bag unique?

Raff’s unique shapes sets it apart from other bags in the market, yet they still blend seamlessly with a modern women’s wardrobe. The handbags are completely handmade and hand stitched using a saddle stitch technique. This painstaking and traditional construction method offers unmatched strength, lasting longer than normal machine stitching. This is not commonly seen in brands at our prices, as it is very time consuming and a dying art. We wanted to bring that to our brand and hence each bag is completely handmade with no use of any machinery. Our leathers are environmentally friendly and harmless to the skin. They are made by artisans in India who are provided fair pricing and healthy living conditions.
Raff handbags
Raff handbags
Raff handbags

Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere. Modern art and architecture are a great source of inspiration. I look for interesting shapes that I could redesign and create into a silhouette for handbags. Raff’s current collection was inspired from a top view image of the Praxis 48 typewriter by Ettore Sottsass and Hans von Klier. I took the negative space and started sketching, which resulted in the design for Maus.

What’s next for Raff?

We are very excited to finally reach out to customers in Europe and are looking to expand our presence there. Currently I am working on designing small leather goods and a few designs for men to add to the range, which is very exciting.
Raff bags
 You can view the Raff collection here.  Raff is offering free shipping in the EU.  For those of you based in the Netherlands you can shop at nl.shopraff.com.  Customers outside the Netherlands can visit shopraff.com to place an order.

Shop Independent This Christmas

shop independent this Christmas

 

Thanks to Lola Hoad of Lola Hoad Design for letting us use her artwork, you can see her lovely Christmas cards and prints here.  I agree with Lola that it is important to shop independent and not just at Christmas but throughout the year.  Admittedly as a small independent online business owner I am biased but I fear that if we don’t our high streets will become the same countrywide.  That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for larger brands but there should be room for the smaller independents, with handcrafted, artisanal products, too and in London, in particular, rising rents are forcing the smaller independent shops out and global brands are taking over.

 

So I am shopping independent this Christmas.  Here are some of my go to independents for gifts:

Christmas-shop-independent

 

Cambridge Imprint, for beautiful printed notebooks, wrapping paper and office accessories.  The printed box files and filing trays just make me want to get organised.

Gift vouchers from Bread Ahead, a bakery in Borough Market, London,which makes the most delicious artisan breads and unbelievably light custard-filled donuts.

Travel sets in beautiful Japanese prints and traditional travel slippers from Keiko Uchida.  The room shoes are perfect for pottering around at home and lightweight for travel.  They have padded arches so are great for anyone who spends the day in heels.

 

 

 

 

 

The Making of a Copper Meditation Bowl

Seventeenth century craftsmanship meets modern design

 

 

Maud-interiors-copper-meditation-bowls

Seventeenth century craftsmanship meets modern design in these copper meditation bowls or urli.  Created by Tambat coppersmiths, as part of an initiative by social enterprise Coppre, each piece is painstakingly handcrafted.  The process is seeded in Tambat tradition and utilises techniques handed down from father to son over generations.

 

There are eight stages in the creation of our best-selling copper meditation bowls, from initially cutting the copper sheeting, to moulding the shape, to the skilled art of beating, buffering and lacquering, to the end result. One of the most complex processes, requiring a high degree of skill, strength, dexterity and keen hand-eye coordination is the beating stage.  Tiny rows of uniform indentations are created using a technique, called ‘Matharkaam, which is carried out using specially profiled beating hammers.  The indentations create a reflective, mirror-like, appearance which radiates light.  You can see the processes involved below:

 

 

 

sheets-of-copper

Sheets of copper

Making a copper meditation bowl

Cutting the copper sheet

Making a copper meditation bowl

The basic shape

making a copper meditation bowl

Heating the circle

making a copper meditation bowl

And cooling it

making a copper meditation bowl

Spinning the first draw to create the bowl shape

the making of a copper meditation bowl

Annealing the copper

the making of a copper meditation bowl

The raw copper meditation bowl (urli)

Beating-the-copper-urli

Beating to create rows of tiny uniform indentations

Buffing

Buffing

Lacquering

Lacquering

the-final-urli

The final copper meditation bowl

The history of the Tambat craftsmen

The Tambat people have been handcrafting copper ware since the seventeenth century.  They originally worked for the Peshwar rulers who were based in Pune, making armour, coins and cannons but with British rule and industrialisation they were forced to turn their attention to making utensils and ceremonial objects for the public.  The community has been declining over the years as alternative metals and plastic have replaced the demand for copper goods and there are now only about 80 Tambat households remaining.

Revitalising a dying craft

Coppre, a dynamic social enterprise, which is supported by Indian NGO, INTACH, has been set up to revitalise this dying craft and improve the livelihoods of the Tambat coppersmiths by introducing modern designs and providing training and marketing.  Copper wares were once considered heirlooms in India and we think that the timeless pieces Coppre and the Tambat craftsmen have created are ones to cherish and pass on.

 

Below, you can see some of the other designs in the range, from nature-inspired seed pod and sunflower tea light holders to copper platters.  Click here to see the entire collection.

 

copper-collection-Maud-interiors

 

Photos of the Tambat craftsmen, Coppre