Inspired

Hecho A Mano

ABOUT | Aside from being one of my best friends on this planet, Rasheena Taub is a woman who has a profound way with words and rich understanding of the human spirit. In her first guest post on CLOTH & KIND, she shares the story and images of her recent trip to Peru and the loving art of creating mantas textiles by hand, hecho a mano. This fall, Rasheena will launch Kickstand Collections, an online resource for parents seeking more personalized collections of children’s books and souvenirs.KRISTA

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

I blame the elevation for my oversight in grabbing water bottles "con gas" at a small market on our way from the Cusco airport to the Sacred Valley. My nine year-old, who was newly exposed to Sprite, delighted in hydrating with a bit of bubbly. Our tour guide seemed less pleased. After twisting his bottle’s plastic cap off, he poured a healthy sip onto the ground. But then he chugged the rest. “Does it taste ok?” I questioned before committing to mine. “Si. That was for Pachamama.”

It turns out Spanish was not the native language of indigenous Peruvians – Quechua is. And in this ancestral language, Pachamama means “Mother World” or, as we know her, “Mother Earth.” Daily worship of their goddess of harvest and fertility includes this ritual of spilling a small amount of one’s drink onto the floor before drinking the rest -- a personal gesture of gratitude directed at feeding and giving back to the land that takes care of us. I tried not to think about our water bottles piling up in some landfill.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

In the small town of Chinchero where we stopped en route to the Sacred Valley, we learned just how Pachamama and the Peruvians take care of each other. Sundays usher in busloads of tourists to experience the market, but this weekday afternoon our van was the sole vehicle in sight. We felt transported into a centuries-old way of living. Free from tourists, the town itself resembled an unoccupied Epcot country with souvenirs lining storefronts on the cobblestone road. Our tour guide led us to the front door of a local family. When no one answered his repeated knocking, he turned around and tried the neighbor’s house. A wooden arrow overhead had the words “Ayni Ayllu” painted onto it. We lucked upon a cooperative of women who thread traditional culture into their goods and weave their way into the modern world of commerce.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

A man, disrupted from siesta, descended from an upstairs room and greeted us. He then swiftly left us in the care of two women who welcomed us into their courtyard. In its center stood a working loom. As a writer, I am drawn to storytellers. These women understood their history and the importance of it, and they sought to preserve it by mentoring their children and educating tourists like us. They were also artisans, taking great pride in their handiwork and personal expressions of an ancient Andean art. A girl my seven year-old son’s age quietly fed guinea pigs while her mother set up a display of wicker bowls that held her show-and-tell. We were invited to learn how their most important textiles, mantas, are made. Symbolic and functional, mantas are the long weavings that women wear on their backs to carry babies and items such as food.  Distinctions in pattern and color identify the community in which it is created.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

Did I mention yet that Chinchero perches at 9,000 feet? We sipped coca tea and staved off altitude sickness while the women washed dirty sheep’s and alpaca’s wool with soap made from the root of a local plant. This natural detergent is also used as shampoo for their long, braided hair. Lack of oxygen may have something to do with my imagining these women in a detergent commercial where their strands of glistening white wool triumph alongside the unnamed leading detergent and an article of clothing still visibly stained.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

My children loved the next step, which involved spinning the wool into yarn on small toy-like drop-spindles. We’d see women around town that afternoon multi-task as women are prone to do: conversing, walking and spinning wool. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I thought color thread was created in this remote region. Again, they turn to the earth for resources. Hand-gathered natural ingredients such as leaves, corn, flowers, sticks and seeds produce different hues for the dyes. Salt and lemon alter the shades of colors drastically. Even cochineal, a small beetle that lives on the local pear cactus, is crushed to create a red dye. This same pigment adorns women’s lips and cheeks as make-up.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND
Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND
Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

The women boiled water in large, Strega Nona-like vessels and then added the desired dyes. They dipped single-ply yarn into the pots for varying lengths of time. The longer the thread soaked in the dye, the more intense its color. My kids grew bored of the demonstration. My husband refocused them on the tables of mantas, sweaters, dolls and pouches for purchase.  He knows me well enough to know that I was staying put for as long as they’d have me.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

The gorgeous yarns then had to be rinsed and hung to dry, all before being spun again to create thicker ply for weaving. Thankfully, balls of yarn crowded a woven basket near the working loom. We were good to go (not out the door, but toward the loom!). My son remarked that the simple loom, with its two upright poles and cross bar, resembled the top half of a field goal. He was right to be thinking of sports, since the two women tossed the yarn back and forth to thread the loom, creating a reversible textile.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

A weaver’s story, though, is told in most detail on an individual loom. Designs depicting natural elements such as rivers or mountains, stripes of varying thickness and color, and even animal figures emerge from the weaver’s mind. During Incan times, textiles commemorated personal milestones and peaceful offerings while representing basic beliefs and values of their makers. Even now, hundreds of years later, you get the sense that whatever a woman is feeling – whether longing or love or loss, she is expressing this through her choice of color and is identifying with Pachamama’s serenity, strength and survival.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

On the afternoon we spent in Chinchero, women gathered to weave in the town’s center and on a patch of grass beside the cobblestone road. Some removed their shoes, made out of recycled tires, and used their toes to hold the yarn. Others worked dutifully on backstrap looms designed for individual use. I envied these creative women for having their community within arm’s reach. Mine is dependent on email, phone calls and care packages. I missed my girlfriends, the ones who value the importance of making something with your hands, who turn hardship into something artful and beautiful, who own their power and use it for a greater good, who get that once you share your story, your few drops of water on the ground, you share yourself with the world, and in doing so, you are sustaining it.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

IMAGE CREDITS | All photographs taken by Rasheena Taub.

Our Style Stories

Inspired: Our Style Stories | CLOTH & KIND

We are seekers of good design - in any form and fashion. We're also big believers in openly sharing the brands, companies, products, blogs, and things we find in our scouting and scavenging so that others can come to love them too. We are quite literally an open book - hence our Little Black Book! One of our latest delights is Hilary Walker's new blog - Our Style Stories. Do you remember Hilary's awesome Show & Tell from a while back? Still adore that incredible vintage screen of hers. Sigh. Needless to say, we are mad about her style and so naturally we're all into the unique perspective that she'll be sharing on her new blog.

In her words… 'Inspired by the many unique ways in which other creatives adorn themselves and their homes, Our Style Stories first found form in a monthly series called “Style Story” on Hilary’s original blog, Hilary Inspired. After much soul-searching and blog regrouping, Hilary chose to retire Hilary Inspired in the Summer of 2013 and relaunch with a new vision and concept focused around the “Style Story” series.'

'A core concept of Our Style Stories is the idea that our personal style and specific backstory are mutually revealing. How we choose to dress, speak, decorate, live, and serve are all wrapped up in the context of our personal style. Some folks have an especially beautiful and interesting way of expressing their style and these are the subjects of Our Style Stories.'

'Beyond the attractive exterior, however, Hilary is very much interested in the inner matters that make creative and successful folks “tick”. What inspires them, challenges them, how have they found their success, and what motivates their art, craft, or calling?'

Inspired: Our Style Stories | CLOTH & KIND

Please stop on by to take a peek and say hello to Hilary! You'll want to put your feet up and stay for a while because if you're like us, a look into the style of other creative minds is endlessly interesting and inspiring. Let us know whatcha think, why don't you?

IMAGE CREDITS | Header by Hilary Walker, Photograph of Hilary by Amanda Marie Lackey of Amanda Marie Portraits and Styling

 

Zak+Fox's Latest Collaboration

Inspired: ZAK+FOX's Latest Collaboration | CLOTH & KIND

Our dear friend, Zak Profera of ZAK+FOX, has launched an exclusive new fabric collection with British furniture retailer Sofa.com and we couldn’t be more thrilled for him. Everything Zak touches has a magical quality and as you can see, this collaboration is no exception…

The limited edition collection is inspired by tradition and travel and includes four patterns in multiple colorways: Basilica, Little River, Cuku and Tibetano.

Printed in New York onto heavyweight Belgian linen, the luxurious fabric is upholstered by hand in Europe and available on any of sofa.com’s sofas and chairs, and as pillows.

Inspired: ZAK+FOX's Latest Collaboration | CLOTH & KIND

Congratulations on an absolutely beautiful collection, Zak!

 

Weathered & Raw

Inspired: Weathered & Raw | CLOTH & KIND

Wild Allium | Feathers & Scissors | Tracks | Mock Orange | Rock & Shell | Sleep

While textiles serve as ongoing inspiration for our projects, the natural world beckons with its siren song and greatly informs our design aesthetic. The fine and exquisite certainly have a place in our interiors but are false idols until softened with the weathered and raw. The balance of high and low coupled with an eclectic patina, one that tells a story, is always what we are after and in the end truly defines our interiors. How do you tell your story?

Fibers Underfoot

Inspired: Fibers Underfoot | CLOTH & KIND

It goes without saying that we are obsessed with textiles but what really turns us on are the artisans behind the handiwork. We had the pleasure of spending yesterday surrounded by gorgeous antique rugs literally up to our ears, and in midst of talented textile artists who painstakingly repair the wear and tear. Although we selected several beautiful rugs to be shipped for interior projects, our favorites, hands down, were the combination of the plaited jute and Moroccan kilim rugs above.

Inspired: Fibers Underfoot | CLOTH & KIND
Inspired: Fibers Underfoot | CLOTH & KIND
Inspired: Fibers Underfoot | CLOTH & KIND
Inspired: Fibers Underfoot | CLOTH & KIND

We are off for another packed day before heading home late this afternoon, so with coffee in hand we are hitting the streets for Studio Four NYC. What's on your agenda for today?

 

IMAGE CREDITS | All images taken by Tami Ramsay of CLOTH & KIND

Kelly Wearstler Wallpapers

We've long lusted after the amazing fabrics by Kelly Wearstler for Lee Jofa Groundworks, and so it's no surprise that we are ecstatic about her new line of wallpapers as well. See for yourself... Amazing, no?

Inspired: Kelly Wearstler for Lee Jofa | CLOTH & KIND
Inspired: Kelly Wearstler for Lee Jofa | CLOTH & KIND

70 Years in the Making

Inspired: 70 Years in the Making | Eames Molded Plywood Side Chair | CLOTH & KIND

It’s been more than 70 years since the Eameses began experimenting with molded wood, using their “Kazam! Machine” to press thin sheets of wood veneer against a heated membrane that was inflated by a bicycle pump. As the designers pushed the material as far as it could go, they continued to explore and discover, surrendering to the design process that ultimately led to their Molded Plastic Chair. In its longstanding commitment to the Eameses’ vision of continued exploration, discovery and refinement, Herman Miller introduces the Molded Wood Side Chair. Creating the classic shell chair out of wood was made possible by today’s revolutionary 3-D veneer technology, whereby the wood is sliced into spaghetti-thin strips and then glued back together. The composite’s flexibility allows it to bend, curve and mold into shape, and because the technique reduces the thickness needed for the veneer, the result is an elegant yet strong and durable shell. This is an authentic Eames product by Herman Miller, and is available via Design Within Reach.

We adore this classic chair that blends just as well with mid-century modern as it does with traditional interiors. What's your take on it? Love it or leave it?

IMAGE CREDITS | copy & images via Design Within Reach

Happiness

Inspired: Happiness | CLOTH & KIND

I saw this quote on Twitter yesterday, posted by Asana (which, by the way, is one of the productivity tools that I live by), and it resonated so much with me. It's a work in progress, but I feel like CLOTH & KIND is gradually allowing this statement to be my truth and that makes me fundamentally happy. Does this ring true to you?

IMAGE CREDIT | Background fabric Positano in Kumquat by Amanda Nisbet

India With Ace & Lotta

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I lived in India for a year as a child and am fairly convinced that the entire experience had a rather profound effect on me,  instilling in me that irrational obsession for vibrant textiles with a global aesthetic. I have not been back there since I was in the third grade, but have long dreamed of the day I'd return. Truly, I thought it would happen before I had children but for one reason or another it never did. Michael and I had lots of other wonderful travel adventures during that time, but India wasn't one of them. For the last 5 years, I haven't ventured away from the kids for much longer than a few days at a time, and have always been within a quick plane ride home... nor would I have wanted to. Luckily, CLOTH & KIND has been instrumental in my life by helping to fill that international travel void. It has allowed me to spend my time dreaming about and posting on the very textiles and far-off locations that I hope to one day visit (again). However, I do believe the time has come to make my deep-rooted love of global travel spring back to life.

All of this is to say that when I saw the news of this journey to Jaipur, India with textile extraordinare Lotta Jansdotter and Angela Ritchie's Ace Camps there was this huge light bulb that went off in my head. I could actually do this! The kids are old enough... I have a wonderful and very capable husband and nanny who would easily be able to manage the kids... (I have intentionally not yet thought to how much I'd miss Alex & Tahlia, and for the sake of this fantasy I won't yet go there)... It's kind of the perfect time in CLOTH & KIND's  life cycle as well. The blog has grown into, dare I say, a somewhat well-known & respected design platform and my interior design business is actually more than I could possibly ask for, for which I am beyond grateful. So, yes, the timing is right and stars are aligned.

Now, if only I'm able to a) figure out how in the heck I'm going to pay for this and b) snag one of the coveted 10 spots. I'm already dreaming of the incredibly creative and talented people I'll meet on this trip. Will you be one of them?

The Beauty of Arizona

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I'm fresh back from a blissful week with the family in Scottsdale, AZ. Can I just tell you how much it was needed?! I feel like a new woman, all rested & relaxed. And who wouldn't be with views like this...

But of course, I wouldn't be me if I didn't stop to drool at some of the fabulous design elements along the way. Vacation or not, it's impossible for me to turn off the textile-addicted side of my personality. In particular, the vintage textiles they used to make these stunning pillows from at our resort blew. me. away.

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As wonderful as the break was, I'm happy to be back in the swing of things. Does that sound crazy? This vacation has accomplished all it was supposed to - uninterrupted days with the kids and hubby, decompression time for all of us, a break from the chill temps in Ann Arbor - but I'm not one for sitting still for too long (as you may have guessed).

This week in particular is going to be a great one on the blog, with two new columns from guest editors debuting - Curated, by Tami Ramsay (who you already know from her stunningly beautiful Anatomy of Flora column here on CLOTH & KIND) and Deconstructed Kitchen, by my incredibly talented photographer and passionate home chef friend, Bonnie Berry. Art and Food. I mean, really, what could be better? I'm also quite excited to share some new Show & Tell with you. The accomplished interior design duo, Andy & Cara from Ore Studios, will be here to show us their favorite textile-based design items in their homes. So check back frequently this week... Lots going on and I want to hear what you think about it all!

PHOTO CREDITS | All photos taken by moi, via Instagram. Follow along, why don't cha?

OFANTIQUE

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Every once in a while I stumble across a company that is doing such unique and beautiful things with textiles that my breath is taken away. Something tells me you are going to feel the very same way about ofANTIQUE.

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Birth Bag

Yoga Mat Bag

ofANTIQUE is the brainchild of a creative and talented woman named Rita, and was born during a voyage to South East Asia that she took with her children. While in Thailand she discovered a wonderful world of antique textiles made by the sublimely talented hill-tribe women whose cultures are rich with the ancient traditions of textile production. The result is a stunningly beautiful selection of handmade bags and garments made using original antique textiles. You can also choose your own vintage textile from Rita's stash to create a custom bag of your choice.

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Happy shopping.

Amy Sklar

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I was just introduced to Amy Sklar by a friend of mine and was instantly enchanted with her incredible design aesthetic. Her recent installation at Woven Accents in LA, especially, had me drooling. Amy shared some insight on this project with me...

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"The Woven Accents showroom is such a great place, they recently moved into a beautiful expansive gallery space across from the Pacific Design Center, and started inviting designers that they have worked with in the past to curate the front area using their incredible rugs as backdrops."

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"A fantastic rug can sometimes be the most important (and sometimes costliest) element in a room, so I really felt like a kid in a candy shop!!! They gave me free rein with their inventory, and I was able to collaborate with one of my favorite furniture showrooms in LA called Lawson-Fenning. That combined with items I had collected over the years, and kids collections from Little Nest and Bla Bla Kids, we were off and running."

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"Abraham Moradzadeh and his son Sam have such a great eye, and the collection in the showroom is really, I think, one of the best in LA." - Amy Sklar, Amy Sklar Design Inc. 

Meg Callahan

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I get really super excited when I find talented people reinterpreting old art forms. Meg Callahan is a perfect example. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design where she discovered her interest in the value of the handmade, as is evident in the beautiful quilts she's designing and producing. They are timeless and still manage to look totally fresh and modern in spirit. So, so good, don't you agree?

The Bed at Hotel San Jose

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Austin, TX is such a happening town. I had the pleasure of staying at the Hotel San Jose last night. It's in the midst of the uber-hip SoCo (South Congress) district, and in and of itself this hotel is brimming with coolness. It has a kind of secret-garden-meets-bo-ho-chic vibe. There's a laid back outdoor patio which was the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine at 5 o'clock. It even has old school bikes available to take out for a cruise. But the best part for me, hands down, was the bed. It was made up with super crisp white sheets and a block printed duvet cover that was just gorgeous in its simplicity. And it was oh-so-comfortable. I just love a hotel with a good bed. So, do tell - where is your favorite hotel bed?

Design Duel

I was so honored to be asked to participate in today's Design Duel over at Hello, Splendor, the blog that belongs to Beth & Carolina of the esteemed Pulp Design Studios. Hilary Walker, who you know from yesterday's Show & Tell, freelances over at Pulp and put the post together. I think it turned out just beautifully, so thank you to Beth, Carolina & Hilary! Ironically, Mimi Thorisson, from the delicious food blog Manager, and I chose very similar items - we must be kindred spirits. I adore her selections and would be honored to sit at her table any day of the week... especially if she's cooking. When I was searching for the items that I wanted to include in the Design Duel post, I found so many amazing table linens and napkin rings that I was inspired to put this together to share a few more ideas for your holiday tables. And, might I add that Barneys New York was the source for all of these beautiful pieces... I'm really loving their home selections lately.

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ONE napkin + ring | TWO napkin + ring | THREE napkin + ring | FOUR napkin + ring | FIVE napkin + ring

So which pair do you like best? I can't decide myself. But come to think of it, how beautiful would a table be that was set with one of each of these? Paired with simple white plates to unify everything... Hmmmm.

P.S. Be sure to check out the Pinterest board I created for the Design Duel post.

Shades of Grey

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ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I'm currently in the throes of reading 50 Shades of Grey... blushing even as I write this!

Since I'm so, ahem, "involved" with Christian Grey right now, I couldn't help but think about how his amazing Seattle home must look. Couldn't you see one of these gorgeous grey tiles in his kitchen or one of his bathrooms? Yes, please.