The beauty of our woven crafts is not only in their looks but also in their origin. Our artisans work in connection with Mother Nature to find raw materials that are abundant and native to their regions. In a world that is full of plastic, we take great pride in this.
From harvesting to weaving, they also utilize what is available around them to create tools. Modern machinery and chemical treatments have no place in the process of crafting our home goods. Only traditional tools are used, such as machetes, and natural methods are applied to treat materials, such as seeds and leaves for the dyeing process.
Our raw materials consist of grasses and plants found in the Southeast Asian coastal areas. These materials are durable and locals use them to build their own homes and furnishings, too. Learn more about the most common materials below.
Rattan is a vine-like palm native to the tropical jungles of Asia, Malaysia, and China. Most of our baskets are woven out of this durable material by the indigenous Bidayh tribes of Malaysia. The raw material is gathered by the weavers themselves in the jungles of Borneo Island.
Once rattan vines are collected, they are stripped and boiled with natural dyes, then buried in mud and left for up to 2 weeks. Lastly, they are rinsed and sun-dried to prepare for the weaving process. Our Bidayuh Tray, for example, typically takes up to 5 days to make. This includes three days for sourcing and treating the materials, and then another two days or weaving.
Our Inabel Placemats and Brocade Weave Pillow Covers are both made of special custom-made cotton fabric. The making of this unique Inabel fabric is an intricate process that starts from turning cotton fiber into spools of beeswax-brushed yarn, which is then woven together on a handloom.
Cotton is a common material, yet these are woven on ancient handlooms using specific techniques handed down through generations. It takes two weeks just to set up the loom, which produces only about two meters of fabric a day. Each thin cotton thread must be counted and arranged according to color before it is wrapped into the loom. Our cotton Inabel product is made by orphans, elderly artisans and students in a small family-run center located in Ilocos, Philippines.
There are only a few species of bamboo that can be used for weaving. Thankfully, these are abundant in the tropical jungles of the Sarawak region — home to our Indigenous Weavers. Our weavers go into the jungles to gather the raw material themselves, after which the bamboo cane is split into thinner strips to prepare it for weaving. Discover the beauty of this material in our Bamboo Basket.
Often confused with seaweeds, Seagrass is a flowering plant with grass-like leaves that grows underwater. The grass is harvested, dried, and woven into mats, which are then crafted into functional products like bags, wallets, and accessories. In the Philippines, Seagrass is referred to as 'Ticog Grass'.
Once harvested and dried, the fiber keeps its green color but turns tan with age. Its rope texture provides an interesting touch to any design, which is seen in our Iris Tray, Utensil Caddy, Iris Rug and Handwoven Placemats. In addition, our collection of airy, light-weight mats are woven from this material combined with Buri Palm leaves, which are used for embroidery.
The Value of Using Natural Materials
Made by highly skilled artisans using nature's own materials, our products are both beautiful and functional. Our materials of choice have the potential of changing the lives and elevating the livelihoods of remote artisan communities without demanding change in their environment or damaging their land.
Keeping in tune with nature also means our home goods are both environmentally friendly as well as safe for children, as opposed to many of the cheap (and even hazardous) materials commonly used today, such as plastic. From harvest to the shop, the values of connection, integrity, craftsmanship, and impact are woven into each product.