Thursday, 25 September 2014

O N   t h e   J E W E L   T R A I L

Amber, gold, silver 
wound around,
Tooled, cast, threaded
Jewels to be found..

In hues warm
and silver glow,
beauty to behold
A story to know.

The ancient has always held a special charm for me. Be it architecture, clothing, jewelry, art or craft, most from the by-gone eras seems meticulously detailed, aesthetically charming and well designed. Silver, Amber, motifs, meanings are some things that I find fascinating - and all can be seen in traditional jewels. 

So off we go on a jewel trail to Africa - a vast continent dotted with unique ethnic cultures. Antique African jewelry  encompasses a range of materials and styles. Be it leather, bone, beads, metals like gold, tin & silver, or, stones especially amber, one gets to discover all. Each region's jewelry has a distinct style and if one looks closely, it speaks of the culture, traditions, craft skills & environment of the place it comes from.

Jewelry from Marrakesh is rich - enameled gold coupled with precious stones - in consonance with the lavish architecture & lifestyle of its people. The Masai people make their jewels out of beads & natural fibre, again a connection with their tribal roots. The 'Hamsa' is a recurring motif in North African jewelry. An open palm, believed to defend its wearer from evil, it has been beautifully integrated in various forms of adornments.

Here's a  collection of pieces that I loved and would like to share with our readers today :)

 Image: Left: Berber Hamsa, silver, Morocco; 
 Right: Hamza Pendant, silver, Morocco, early 1900's

 Images (clockwise from left): - Silver shoulder necklace, late 19th cen; - brass earrings, Sudan, 19th cen; - silver earrings

 Image: - Necklace with enamelling

  Images (clockwise from left): - Berber necklace in silver & amber, Morocco; - Pendant, Ethiopia, early 1900's; - Fibulas, silver & enamel, Morocco

 Images: Left: - Necklace, Morocco;    
Right: - Necklace, glass beads & silver, Egypt

 Images: Left: - Wedding necklace, Somalia, silver & amber, late 19th cen;
Right: - amulet pendant necklace, Morocco

 Images: Left: - Necklace, tin w/ gold plating, Ethiopia, 1967;    
Right: - Earrings, brass & glass bead, Sudan, 19th cen

  Images (clockwise from left) all from Morocco: - necklace w/ hand of fatima pendant, gold w/ enamelling; - Earrings, gold & emerald, 19th cen; - Earrings, gold w/ enamelling, 17th cen

 Images: Left: - Necklace, silver, leather & Amber, Ethiopia, mid 18th cen;  
Right: - Telsum beads, silver, Ethiopia

 Image: necklace from Masai people, glass beads & natural fibre

  Images (clockwise from left): - Falcon collar, gold, carnelion, feldspar, Egypt, late 17th cen; - Pendant, gold, Ivory coast, early 20th cen; - Fibulas, gold, Morocco

 Images: Top: Blue faience necklace, Egypt, 664 - 343 BC; 
Below: Collar, faience, Egypt, 1345 BC

Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat  


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Thursday, 18 September 2014

P A P E R – As  S I M P L E  as it gets 

Text: Hina Nitesh

It does not take much to make ordinary special – 
just an innovative mind.

We are surrounded by it throughout our day right from the morning newspaper to the notepad on which we scribble to the white sheet children draw on to the wrap of the take away meal to the brown bag of the local grocer...the list is endless. 
Then why are we talking about it here as if it is special?

Ever wondered how paper is made? Yes there are paper mills but they don't make hand made paper (for obvious enough reasons). So who makes handmade paper and how?

One such person who is our focus today is a lady by the name of Jenny Pinto. She not only makes paper but also turns it into beautiful products. From a well established career in advertising to Jenny Pinto Studios, from Mumbai to Bengaluru, was a long journey for our designer.

As she puts it, 'After 17 years of making TV commercials in Bombay, I decided I wanted to do something that "reconnected" me to the earth.'

The paper affair started when she met someone passionate about recycling paper. The idea seemed interesting to her and she started with designing paper lamps – enjoying the play of light on paper.

The concept of connecting with nature led to her making handmade paper for the creations. The advantage this gave her was that she did not need to depend on others for the supply of raw material for the lamps. Her experiments with handmade paper lead her to use natural materials like banana fibre, mulberry, jute, kora grass etc. And finally zooming onto using banana fibre.

The handmade paper thus made is used for making a range of things like lamps and lights, stationery and home accessories. Of these its the lamps which are breathtakingly beautiful.

Like a magician, she is able to sculpt forms which are difficult to even imagine in her chosen medium – the handmade paper. She realises that the shadows play and important role in a lamp so she creates them deliberately in the form.

'My inspiration', she says, 'is nature. Stone,bark, the desert, the sea, parched earth, the forest canopy,the forest floor...'

Apart from the lamp itself, what would catch your eye is the stand. Fashioned out of stone or wood or metal or bamboo, they are just perfect for the creations.

Jenny also gives back to the society working with NGOs and for women empowerment. She teaches them basic techniques and start them with designs. She then leaves them to explore their own creative potential and goes back if they need help.

It is a visual delight to browse through Jenny's creations which are available at various stores including The Purple Turtles in Banglore and Transforme in Mumbai.

Jenny Pinto is an inspiration who goes onto show that if you can dream it you can achieve it.

Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat

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Saturday, 13 September 2014

B Y   t h e   W A T E R

All of us have a dream home - a home that is reflective of our experiences, aspirations; a place where we can be at rest, at peace with ourselves and the world; a space that inspires and invigorates us. 

This dream home can be the part of a busy city, a sleepy town, by the riverside or nestled deep in the mountains...Riverside cities, or, settlements evolved around canals offer a unique opportunity for mainstream life, 'by the water'. Paris, Venice, Amsterdam - all these beautiful cosmopolitan cities derive their unique architectural character from the water that flows through them.

We bring to you today water side living - a floating Dutch residence 'ParkArk'; a picture of serenity and in complete harmony with its surroundings.

Sited next to a seventeenth century park in Utrecht, Netherlands, the house looks as much a part of the canal as of the green. This 'houseboat' designed by BYTR Architects is copper and timber clad and is accessible by a footbridge.

Spacious, light filled interiors finished in complementing wooden & white accents make for a cosy, modern living space surrounded by  stunning views.

The client brief specified a boat for a home which afforded privacy while allowing views of the park. Added to this a 'full experience of living and floating on the water'. 

The boat's dimensions are governed by the Port Authority's bye-laws; the design and internal layout are a result of the unique requirements of designing on water, including maintaining structural balance.

An external staircase leading to a vegetated roof makes the house blend in completely with its surrounds. 
In the park or on the terrace? It's the same!

Images: BYTR architects 

Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat  

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Monday, 8 September 2014

T A L K I N G   T H R E A D S - I 

 P H U L K A R I

Text: Hina Nitesh
We in India are fortunate to have a rich and diverse tradition of handicrafts. Be it ceramics or wood work or metal work or something as simple as embroidery, there is a mind boggling variety from distinct regions. We at OTDB have decided to introduce to you the different embroidery styles from all over the country.

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I would define embroidery as the art of painting with colored threads. It is not just about decorating a piece of cloth, there are entire stories painted on the cloth. Despite being done in particular ways, it bears the personality of its maker and in that sense is akin to painting on the canvas.

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Phulkari, my theme for today's post is the traditional needle work from Punjab and the region around it. The term finds its origins in phul meaning flower and kari meaning craft. Traditionally this form of embroidery was practised by the rural women with geometric patterns and motifs inspired from nature and everyday life.

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Darning stitch with horizontal or vertical or diagonal stitches is the basic stitch used in this craft. A single strand of silk floss is used for creating the patterns. What is interesting is the way shades are created – by changing the direction of the stitch, the variation in shades is achieved while using the same color thread.

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Crafts and the wedding ceremonies in our country are interlinked and Phulkari is no different. It would interest the readers to know that the work on Phulkari trousseau for the bride would start off from the day she was born! However it was not made just for wedding, but for important milestones in a woman's life. Apart from the wedding, a woman would be gifted a Phulkari to be worn when she stepped out of the house for the first time after giving birth and her body would be wrapped in one when she died. Traditionally there was no concept of selling the craft – it was made by the women to be used by the family and the extended family.

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Phulkari was done on cotton (khaddar) cloth on the rough side. Most of the times, the pattern was not drawn on the cloth but the woman doing the embroidery would keep a count of the stitches.

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Like most other traditional craft forms, Phulkari too is fading away slowly. There are few who practice this time consuming art form. An attempt to revive the form is made with the introduction of machines. What used to be done with hands once is now being done on machine and has become more affordable. But the dilution has resulted in a great loss to the rich crafts heritage of our country.
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I am saddened to see such beautiful craft forms fading into history. What is needed to revive such a craft form? Popularizing it on a global stage would probably be the right approach. For this it would it would need a new definition in terms of cloth on which done or colours used or new patterns. Some designers are integrating it with other materials like Phulkari on Mangalgiri saris. Another approach is to give it a contemporary definition. Many designers and entrepreneurs are involved in this and the result is some really beautiful products in which Phulkari has been done for value addition. If more such people come forward, the craft can definitely be taken to newer heights.

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Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat 
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