Meet The Makers
This is Dang Thi Nam (opposite) as you can see she is very shy and was not that keen on us taking her photo! But its still a great photo and shows all the seagrass baskets being set out in the sun in Vietnam to dry. Although of course there are more modern ways of drying materials the sun is the best, the most eco friendly and the cheapest. Seagrass is a very eco friendly and biodegradable. All these baskets are woven by hand by Dang Thi and her artisan colleagues at the factory we use in Vietnam. The belly baskets are made by a process called locally Koi Zap. Tis is when natural sea grass fibres are softened and flattened and woven by hand without a mould.
This charismatic lady opposite is Do Thi Tu. (I wish I was that photogenic!)
We also use a braided technique to make seagrass things. This is called Koi Zak locally. This is when the seagrass fibres are braided into long strings. Koi Zak can use shorter fibres as the plait binds them. The braids are then sown together into a shape. We use this for the coasters and place mats 20SS117 20SS118.
This is Dev, (top opposite) he works in one of our Northern India wood factories. Dev is carving a 10SS61 wall panel in the photo which is made of a wood composite.The bottom photos opposite is Kuldeep he is carving a 14SS73 heart wall panel which is also made of a wood composite.
Opposite is Raees (again he was not to keen on the paps). Raees is a ceramic artisan. Here he is sanding any rough areas on our ceramic pieces. The pieces are then washed thoroughly using cotton cloth and plain water, before they're dipped in the required glaze solution. Then are dried in open air under the sun for a day before firing kilns & are baked at temperatures up to 1200 degrees.The main raw material clay is the exact mix is a trade secret! Clay solution is poured into the mold. Moulded pieces are taken out after the settling time in the mould & kept to dry at room temperature for a day. At this stage the designs are cut into each piece by hand using a cutter similar to a cookie cutter.
The very very chic lady opposite is Phool Pato Devi. She works in the factory which makes the recycled cotton range. Phool Pato is seen here making the yarn from the recycled threads.
Opposite - This is the warping process, where the warp is managed onto the machines. All wooden traditional hand driven machines. Not a big metal computerised system
This is Nguyen Thi Hoa (opposite). She is moving newly dried seagrass to the weavers and painters. The
seagrass behind her his all drying in the sun
outside the factory. We use two additional manufacturing processes in addition to the Koi Zap mentioned above. Nguyen is carrying split seagrass which can then be used for Koi Sein After harvesting and processing the seagrass properly, our artisans split the reeds into thin fibres, the longest will be coiled with recycled plastic strings in a wooden frame. The frame is used as a jig and once removed will leave your basket. this is the process we use to make the snake charmer basket 20SS105.
This gentleman is Pham Van Luyen. This is actually carrying water hyacinth for another client. But behind him you can see our bamboo bowls drying in the sun. Bamboo is a fast-growing plane ton earth. It is naturally mould and mildew resistant, naturally anti bacterial and odour resistant and it's stronger than most hardwoods. Bamboo needs no pesticides to grow, therefore it is the eco-friendly choice with low environmental impact. Properly cared for, quality bamboo bowls can last a lifetime.
90% of our wood products are made from mango wood. Mango wood is fundamentally the by-product of an already thriving industry: Mango fruit. Unlike the oaks of North America which take 50-100 years to mature, mango trees mature quickly; reaching 80-100 feet in around 15 years. Once the trees get too tall to easily harvest the fruit or stop bearing fruit altogether, they are harvested for timber and a new generation of trees is planted.
The wood that we make our collection from was previously burnt or left to break down naturally not only provides extra income to mango farmers, but provides us with an affordable material that’s easy to work with. Opposite Varun is doing the initial cutting for 5AW74 the angel wing decorations and Adi doing the detail carving of 8SS04 the mango wood filigree hearts.
Opposite are the hands of Irshad. he makes papier mache decorations to be hand painted by his colleagues. The reason I have shown Irshad instead of the perhaps more glamorous painters is this the part which is age old recycling. Old newspaper is soaked for days in water, mixed with a rice straw mixture and shaped in a mould. It is then coated in glue, rubbed and smoothed with a lump of clay and coated many times with layers of old newspaper. Sanded and final painted by hand by Bashir (opposite) or one of his colleagues. When I first went to India, highly skilled tasks like the painting were mainly done by men like Bashir. But I am pleased to say that there is now more and more women in the painting rooms.
Phool then loads the bobbins (opposite) ready for the weavers.
The 4 photos above show Pawl Kumar the master waver and his team weaving in the middle two photos and larger fabrics to be cut into different items in the last photo. .