Category Archives: Weaving

Moroccan Wedding Blankets

Vintage Moroccan wedding blankets, also known as handira or tamizart, have been popular with interior designers and stylists for some time.  The neutral colour palette of the blankets makes them an extremely versatile addition to a bedroom or sitting room.  They add elegance, texture, pattern, glamour and sparkle and can be used in a variety of ways: as a coverlet or footer on a bed, over the back of a sofa or a chair, as a stylish headboard, a casual throw or as a wall hanging.  Have a look at the Pinterest board below for some ideas on how you can use wedding blankets in your home.  Scroll down the Pinterest board with your mouse to see all the images.

Hand Woven By The Mother Of The Bride For Her Wedding Day

There are different types wedding blanket in Morocco.  The cream and white variety comes from the mid Atlas mountains where they are hand-woven by the mother of the bride and her female relatives in preparation for her wedding day. They are woven from local wool and cotton in a natural palette of cream and white and can take several weeks or months to complete.  Each piece is unique and reflects the skill and creativity of the weaver.  Many blankets feature bands of kilim weaving, sometimes concealed by cotton fringing on the front but visible on the back.  These coloured kilim bands often contain talismanic symbols conveying the hopes of the bride’s mother for her future prosperity, fertility and happiness.

 

Each sequin is sewn on by hand.  The sequins form small clusters or rows or both and are said to ward off the evil eye.  It’s also possible that their similarity to small coins is intended to symbolise future wealth.  They also reflect the light whether it’s the light of the fire in the evening or daylight sun.

 

The blankets are worn like capes either over the head or around the shoulders and tied at the neck.  They are traditionally worn by the bride on her journey to her husband’s home.  After the marriage they are used as bed or wall coverings to decorate the marital home.

Our stock of vintage Moroccan wedding blankets is constantly changing but you can see a selection below.

Moroccan wedding blankets

Photos: Kristy Noble and Dave Bullivant

You can see our full range of vintage Moroccan wedding blankets here and our range of cushions from vintage Moroccan wedding blankets here.  We think that as well as adding glamour to your home they would make a wonderful wedding present.

Seeking Africa Exhibition

Seeking Africa: Design/Art Across A Continent Exhibition

Seeking Africa: Design/Art Across A Continent

 

The Seeking Africa exhibition, at Themes and Variations on Westbourne Grove in London, is one of the first exhibitions in the UK to focus on the variety of contemporary design from Africa.  The exhibition has been cleverly curated to give a glimpse of what is happening in different countries via chosen artists.  Themes range from pollution and the effects on the environment, reflected in photography and furniture from recycled oil drums, to story telling through basket weaving.

 

The basket weaving drew my attention as two of the baskets are from a series of three Biography Baskets.  These Biography baskets are part of the Song of the Weaver project, created by three generations of weavers: grandmother, daughter and granddaughter from one family who work for social enterprise, Gone Rural, in Swaziland. Each of the baskets in the series captures the memories of the lives of  the weaver through grasses and objects found on their homesteads.

 

Seeking Africa Exhibition

Seeking Africa Exhibition

The basket above is by Siphiwe Mngometulu, the daughter of the trio, who is the head of her homestead.  Siphiwe left school after falling pregnant and began weaving to support her child.  Together Siphiwe and her husband had six more children building a life together at his homestead.  Then one day her husband sold all their cattle and left.  He did not return for four years.

Siphiwe had to leave her husband’s family homestead but with her income from Gone Rural she was able to start her life again, building a new house and buying animals  but she has yet to regain her herd of cattle.  This is her ultimate dream.  Her husband now visits a few times a year.   Her basket is a visual memoir of her life.  Woven from grasses and collected objects, there are memories embedded in every strand of the basket.  Like the bone, which signifies that Siphiwe is the backbone of her family.  The goat skull and metal disc are reminders of her husband as Siphiwe always slays a goat when he returns home and the disc symbolises her husband’s return by bicycle.  The numerous layers of grasses symbolise the years of Siphiwe’s life (some fertile and some dry).

 

Seeking Africa Exhibition

The basket above is by Bonakele Ngwenya, Siphiwe’s first-born daughter.  Like her mother she left school at 16 when she became pregnant.  She was sad to have to leave school but happy to have a daughter.  Bonakele learnt how to weave from her mother and joined Gone Rural to support her child.  Her basket is very different in style from her mother’s.   The use of pink symbolises her love for her daughter and the metal loops represent her husband’s unstable employment.  The depressed base is her sadness at having to leave school and the zig zag patterns on the top of the basket allude to the style of basket she normally weaves for Gone Rural and her prayer for more work in the future.

seeking africa exhibition

seeking africa exhibition

Another Gone Rural basket, from a different collection, woven from recycled fabric and plastic covered grasses and copper wire.

 

seeking

 

seeking africa exhibition

Also part of the Seeking Africa exhibition were two striking baskets by Beauty Ngxongo from Zululand.  Functional, beautiful and decorative, Zulu baskets are some of the most collectable in the world.  The ones above are tightly woven from ilala palm, so tightly woven that the they are watertight.  I particularly like the earthy mix of colours and striking patterns in these baskets.

 

The Seeking Africa exhibition runs until 16th December but hurry if you want to see everything as the exhibits are for sale and are selling fast. Learn more at Themes and Variations, 231 Westbourne Grove, London.

 

The background information on the Biography Baskets is from Gone Rural.  Find out more about social enterprise Gone Rural here and click here to see our selection of baskets from Gone Rural.

Monochrome Interior Inspiration

Monochrome Interiors And How To Create Them

 

Scandi or monochrome interiors can be difficult to pull off as they can look stark, cold and clinical.  Two Scandinavian designers who nail this look are Danish fashion, interior designer and artist, Marlene Birger and Swedish stylist, make-up artist and founder of boutique, Miloii, Karolina Vertus.  You can see shots from their properties in our Pinterest board above (use the scroll bar on the right hand side to see all the photos).

There are five key elements to monochrome interiors:

1.Pattern

Add patterned rugs, blankets, cushions and throws to break up expanses of one colour.   Stick to a restricted colour palette and don’t be afraid to mix stripes, zig zags, florals and tribal motifs.

2.Global textiles

Thick Beni Ourain rugs, hand-woven runners, striped and patterned blankets, sequinned wedding blankets, throws and piles of assorted cushions all add layers, texture, pattern and warmth.

3.Metallics

Sequinned Moroccan wedding blankets, lassi cups, silver sculptures, candlesticks, contemporary metallic lights, tea light holders, inlaid furniture and metallic tiles all reflect the light and add sparkle.

4.Natural materials

Rustic or global wooden furniture, tribal carvings and wicker baskets all add texture.  I would also add plants to the mix.

5.Artwork

Create a visual feast with bold contemporary artwork or mix and match styles on a gallery wall.

 

Get The Look

monochrome interiorsMonochrome interiors

  1.  Add pattern and texture with our hand-woven Indian Zig Zag runner in black and white, £380
  2. A bold striped blanket, perfect on the bed or thrown over a sofa, Moroccan Pom Pom Blanket Natural Black £183
  3. Kilim Pouf Ayoub, a Beni Ourain pouf, will provide extra seating, pattern and texture to a room, £110
  4. A sophisticated basket with layers of ribbing will add texture, Open Ribbed Basket Black Gogo Christina, £112, shown here on our natural and white Indian Zig Zag runner, £380
  5. A striped blanket will add warmth and pattern, Moroccan Pom Pom Blanket Black Natural, £183
  6. Add a decorative touch with one of our storage baskets, Bonakele Black, £180
  7. These Black and Natural baskets Bonakele, available in three sizes, £34 – £80, add pattern and texture
  8. A traditional Beni Ourain carpet adds pattern, texture and warmth underfoot, £795
  9. Vintage lassi cups add pattern and a silvery shine, (available in a variety of patterns and sizes), £30 – £34
  10. Add sparkle with vintage Moroccan wedding blankets, (shown here Assia) £225 and cushions.

 

If you are a fan of monochrome interiors you can read more on Karonlina Vertus, her apartment and family, in Milk magazine here. Marlene Birger has written two books on her style and properties, you can read more about them and see her artwork here.

 

The Chiapas Collection

The story behind our latest collection of hand woven cushions and runners

I had a bumpy, vomit inducing, eighteen hour bus ride from Tulum on the coast into the Mexican highlands to meet the non-profit organisation, El Camino de los Altos, so I was delighted when I saw their hand woven cushions and runners.  Each piece is exquisitely designed using ancient weaving techniques  combining traditional Mexican artistry with bold contemporary design.

 

Back-strap-loom-weaving

 The Chiapas collection is lovingly hand-made by Mayan women using the traditional pre-Hispanic back-strap loom. Combining contemporary French design influences with ancient Mayan techniques and iconography, the organisation founders work with the craftswomen to design, create and produce the collection using only the highest quality materials.  Each piece is carefully crafted and all embroidery and finishing is done by hand.  It takes on average three days to create a back strap loom woven cushion and seven to create a table/bed runner.

As well as training the weavers and introducing new designs, El Camino De Los Altos also provides a literacy programme for them to learn Spanish and for their children to learn their own indigenous language.   The organisation also supports the artisans with loans for healthcare.

literacy-project-El-Camino

 

I’m very excited to be working with El Camino De Los Altos.  The organisation has succeeded in preserving traditional handicraft skills, whilst improving the lives of the weavers and creating a vibrant, modern collection perfect for the contemporary home.

Abuela striped cushions - Chiapas collection

Meet our Suppliers – Gone Rural baskets

Happy New Year!

 

I hope 2014 is a happy, healthy and prosperous one for you all.

 

To kick off the new year I thought I would start with a blog post on one of our new suppliers, Gone Rural, a social enterprise based in Swaziland producing beautiful baskets.  Our Gone Rural baskets were  inspired by one of the families working with Gone Rural.  Gogo (grandmother) Christina, her daughter Siphiwe and her granddaughter Bonakele all work with traditional materials and techniques passed down from generation to generation to support their families.  Gone Rural has taken an age-old craft, handed down from mother to daughter over generations and introduced innovative new weaving techniques, new materials and colours to create eye-catching, intricately constructed, modern baskets.   From the Gogo Christina open and large ribbed baskets, to the two tone block weave Bonakele baskets and the tactile black fabric and copper wire trays, all of which can be seen here, each handcrafted piece is visually stunning, providing versatile, contemporary storage solutions for the home and a sustainable income for Swazi women.

 

Gone Rural is a social enterprise, founded in the 1970s, which works with over 800 women artisans in 13 groups across Swaziland, from young women to gogos.  The women are self-employed and are provided with home-based work, enabling them to earn a sustainable income whilst still allowing them to carry out traditional duties and care for their families.

Plaiting-the-lutindzi-grass

All materials used to create the baskets are renewable, with the signature lutindzi grass (which is indigenous to Swaziland) sustainably harvested. Waste material from local textile mills is also used in some designs, such as the black and copper trays below, with the fabric strips wrapped around the grass to add another texture and interest to the baskets.

 

Gone-Rural-weavers-and-their-baskets

Purchases help support Gone Rural boMake (meaning women) a not-for-profit organisation providing health, education and empowerment programmes in Swaziland.