I believe not only in supporting small businesses, I also believe in focusing consumer-based decisions around thoughtfully made items. Items with a story - an origin that you can actually know. A face you can see. Many artists today struggle to stay small. They struggle against the temptations of doing things easier, like instead of hand-making they might buy a laser cutting machine or start casting all of their jewelry. They might stop painting and go digital because prints are easier. It's always great to grow and think outside the box and to consider how to be efficient with how you work so in the end your profits are enough to sustain you.
With that in mind, I would like to put forward a few products that I really like, and that might fit the bill of what I just wrote.
MUDRENKO - handmade ceramics from the Ukraine
One of my favorites is "African Bird Guinea Fowl" - the artist's collection is very much inspired by nature, which is apparent throughout. It's really beautiful.
MBUNDY - handmade pottery from the US
I took a ceramics course in college and I loved it. I've always been a fan of vintage pottery, mottled glaze techniques, and that crazy richness you can achieve... pottery truly is an art and it's a very tactile experience. The gratification you get at each stage of the process is immeasurable.
What I like so much about Meg's style is the marriage of that vintage feel that blends so nicely with the sharp edges and geometric designs in her tribal line. Here are two of my top picks!
So I've studied A LOT of different things in school - one of my longer jaunts was 2.5 years at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Textile Development. I had no idea textiles were so scientific but yes! textiles today are designed to withstand fire, liquid, extreme cold, wind, you name it. Of course we're speaking of performance fibers. But for as long as humans have worn cloth, weaving has existed. We're very lucky today to have the opportunity and access to learn about and enjoy traditionally made fabrics from all over the globe. In fact once might say that it's very trendy at the moment to own re-purposed pillows, blankets, bags, etc... as well as to buy via collectives which manage production and ensure that rural villages who make these new yet traditional products are treated fairly and receive the monetary benefits of their hard work. Importantly, collectives like these help to sustain these traditions which might otherwise be lost. With lesser demand, it's no longer appealing to hand the trade down generation by generation so we need to consider these things when we look for globally handmade textiles.
FAIRLY WORN - based in Switzerland
This small company is owned by Valerie & Bettina. They travel the globe in search of vintage textiles and African products. They also work with a collective in Bangladesh that makes their stunning kantha quilts. These are products I can get behind - and I really respect the extra work that these two women take to ensure that their passion is combined with local activism in support of tradespeople.
Two picks from me:
Rustic Kantha Placemats in old rose and Vintage Hemp Purse - made with Hmong hemp and indigo fabrics. If you're interested in textiles, there are so many things you can learn about techniques just by reading a bit further than product care instructions. Kantha is a technique of embroidery from South Asia, primarily Bangladesh, where old sari fabrics are sewn together and the end result is a colorful quilted texture fabric with visible stitching. The below place mat is a beautiful example. As for the Hmong handbag, Hmong refers to a group of villages in the mountains running from China to Vietnam. Here villagers produce their own hemp textiles and dye them with natural materials, including indigo. Many farmers used to repair their work clothing by applying a patch over the worn area and sewing it in a method called "boro" which you can see on the backside of the handbag.
COM ART - based in Portugal
Christina makes beautiful, crisp, richly textural art. Maybe that's a mouthful but there's something so primitive about her work and I dream of buying a piece or two for my home. Fortunately she also sells smaller format originals and prints which are quite affordable and they make GREAT GIFTS!
70 x 100 abstract on paper - this would be my first choice.
So that's it for today.
None of these shops have Black Friday sales that I can see - they're not necessarily cheap either. But isn't it more interesting to buy less, but buy more at the same time. Instead of an empty, manufactured print from IKEA or pottery from Anthropologie, why not small production - story-based - hand crafted - non-sell out commercialism driven art?
Think about it.