Showcasing breathtaking traditional textiles from all corners of the world, NEST is featuring Bògòlanfini or bogolan (“mud cloth”), a handmade Malian cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud that has experienced a revival in the international design scene, from fashion to fine art to interior design.
Rooted in Mali, this beautiful form of craftsmanship proliferated throughout West Africa, particularly Burkina Faso and Guinea, combining the plentiful natural ingredients of water, earth, sun, and natural dyes.
The fabric is passed through a yellow dye bath, coming from African birch bush, and then sun-dried. Fermented clay, left in the earth for several weeks, is used to create the motifs. Each piece is symbolic, designed for ritualistic use. Once applied, it is again sun-dried, reacting with sunlight to oxidize the base.
Bògòlanfini cloth is rich in cultural significance; becoming a symbol of Malian cultural identity since the 1980’s.
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As a part of our series celebrating master craftsmanship, NEST is featuring the superlative John Neeman Tools, a company whose deep heritage and tradition is flourishing in this high-tech, mechanized age.
Founded by carpenter Jacob and a local village bladesmith, John Neeman Tools is comprised of a crew from Latvia who pass on their deep knowledge of blades and technique from generation to generation, in order to produce the best and most beautiful woodworking tools and knives on earth.
The crew uses a plethora of materials, ranging from 9260 spring steel in their blades (the same material used by samurai swordsmiths for centuries due to its ability to resist snapping and shattering), to locally harvested and kiln dried elm for handles and local high-quality leather cow hide for hand stitched sheaths.
“We use our hands to produce tools that will live on, telling their story in the hands of the craftsmen after us. Each tool we make is born with energy and personality – a love and care that will be felt daily by each craftsman; a resonance from the heart of the tool.
Our traditions of blacksmithing and woodworking walk step by step together. We are uniting our history, traditions and craftsmanship in one ancient craft – tool making.”
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This is a short documentary movie that shows the whole process of how John Neeman Tools are being hand crafted.
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NEST is committed to the tradition of craft and responsible artisan businesses that empower individuals and communities at large.
This week we are featuring New York based jewelry designer Karen Erickson of Erickson Beamon, who celebrates craft in the strictest sense of the word, designing one-of-a-kind, handmade jewelry pieces since the 1980’s. She is also credited with bringing statement jewelry ladled with crystals, pearls and embellishments into vogue and pioneering the concept of the chandelier earring.
“Consumers are getting something larger than themselves when they buy one of my pieces” states Karen with pride, “they feel the love; every single piece comes with a lifetime guarantee, passed on from generation to generation.”
But what is unique and special about Karen is the manner in which she treats her craftsmen, those who so carefully assemble her jewels. “I treat my employee as family; I love them, they are my favorite people in the world.” She ensures their livelihood, as well as the livelihood of their entire families, never sacrificing financial gain for human compassion.
For Karen, her company is an extension of her spiritual self; it is about the production of “beautiful things” made with love and human feeling. Erickson Beamon is thus the embodiment of all she represents, evoking an emotional response that reflects the heart and soul that goes into each and every dazzling creation.
The lovely work of AESA, our favorite jewelry hand-made in New York. AESA is so generously lending skills and knowledge to help provide tools and consultation for our partners in Kenya.
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A few photos from Bali, home of Nest’s newest artisan project.
Natural dying and weaving in Gianyar, Bali
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visiting quilters in the New Mexico mountains (at Penasco, New Mexico)
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Maiyet’s Pre-Fall collection, inspired by artists and artisans.
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