The Beauty of Sustainable Handmade Artisan Textiles from Marigold Living

Marigold-Living, Textiles, Indian-Block-Prints, Placemats, Linens, Boho, Decor, Tabletop, Tablelinens, decoration, interiors, interior designs

Marigold Living is an independent company sourcing handmade traditional textiles from  India artisans working within a unique model based on fair pricing while valuing the legacy of artistic technique and tradition.

Many of these complex and extraordinary textile techniques and visual handwork traditions are in danger of becoming extinct for myriad reasons such as everyday financial pressures faced by the artisans, changing trends in style, and even the replacement of handmade textiles with new technological printing and embroidery techniques. Inevitably with such automated techniques, there is a loss of intricacy, variation and tradition that can only be passed down from person to person.

Marigold Living founder Shreya Shah explains:

“Traditional practitioners of craft face competition from quicker techniques that result in less inconsistencies and allow for large-scale production. Printing techniques like screen printing and even digital printing, can replicate the “look” of a hand block print, as can power loom weaving versus hand weaving. 

With the proliferation of these modified techniques, there is a meaningful dilution in the aesthetic of the final product in my view, and a slow erosion of the richness one can get in a handmade object made using traditional techniques.”

 

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“Many of these artisan shops are not incentivized to follow the laborious authentic techniques. Instead, driven by global demand for cheaper Indian “handmade” textiles, many artisans have already jumped ship to the larger scale segment of screen printing, and taking short cuts in block printing at lowered prices. I hope to create products for this market using the traditional crafts and traditional designs, updating them without losing the rich underlying cultural aesthetic. “

 

 

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What inspired you to begin this company? 

I have had a long-standing fascination for handicrafts in general from my early life – having grown up in Mumbai and surrounded by exposure to exhibitions, specialty stores, and home-based businesses that carried some of the finest handcrafted saris and home linens. The beauty of heritage textiles was part of our family life, and both my mother and older sister were a big influence on me. We would always seek out unique, regional, specialty saris for my mother’s daily wear, and for social occasions for my sister.

While my education and career have always been in business and finance, the early beginnings of Marigold Living actually happened while I was getting my MBA at NYU in 1995. It was striking to me that there was very limited, if any, availability of high quality textiles or handicrafts from India in the US, so I decided to make that my project for an Entrepreneurship class. Of course, it took several years before I could take on building the business due to my demanding career in finance, but I am excited to have officially launched the brand this past March of 2018.

 

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Any important stories you would like to share about your artisans? 

In my view, the bigger story of artisans in India is their inherent knowledge of techniques – weaving, hand printing, wood block carving, dyeing, embroideries, etc. It always fascinates me as I discover more communities about how esoteric the skills and even the aesthetics are by region and community. They each having their own heritage that is passed down through generations. In our modern-day consumerism, we are quite unaware of the wealth of knowledge that is at the risk of being lost. Similarly, these artisans are also sometimes unaware of their own level of expertise, because they have been making things for their own use for centuries. They are not fully able to capitalize on it, due to lack of exposure and education to make things that would be exciting and beautiful for a modern-day consumer.

 

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Tell us more about the Women Artisans….

The women artisans often work on their craft alongside working in their homes and taking care of their families. For example, my applique line (fine hand stitching of cutouts) is done by women in a remote rural region at the border of India and Pakistan. This community migrated from Pakistan in the 70’s and they all settled in this one region which is still quite underdeveloped the women have been taught to do this applique work by their families over generations.

 

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The work arrangement is flexible, and women work on it at their own pace and get paid per piece completed. The area would require government permission to even visit, but my supplier organizes this work, sending the textiles to them and assigning pieces to women looking for work. The process can take up to 3 months to get an order completed.

 

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And Parsi Embroidery….

I have also visited a small town in Central India where I get my Parsi embroidery done. While my supplier is herself from the Parsi community and is fully knowledgeable about the heritage, today Parsi women do not make the embroidery because it went out of fashion. Luckily, the craft has survived and embroiderers from other regions with embroidery skills are able to recreate the intricate designs. While exploring the local market in this town, my supplier pointed me to shop after shop carrying “shadow work” embroidery designs on saris, which is a more casual local embroidery style. There is a pocket of this artisan community there that does that type of work and I am very keen on cultivating it to make table linens.

 

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Can you tell us a bit about a few of the traditional printing techniques used?

Hand block printing, resist printing and bandhani tie-dye printing are a few of the various techniques I have used so far in my collections. Block printing is the process of hand-stamping elaborate designs engraved on wooden blocks onto cotton or silk fabrics. Resist printing is a technique where patterns are hand block printed on white fabric using a dye-resistant paste (typically made with mud or wax), and then placed in a dye bath. Once the resist is removed, the eye-catching patterns remain in white against a striking colored background.

 

 

 

 

Bandhani tie-dye printing is where several points in the fabric are tightly tied with thread to create numerous dots, before dipping the fabric into vats of colorful dye. The tied knots are then opened, forming a delightful pattern of white spots against the colored background.

 

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Tell us more about the investment in traditional Indian artwork and the people you work with, and how you support them in the work and lives. 

The handicraft sector forms the second largest source of employment in India after agriculture, with millions of artisans working in it – as the majority of the population in India (~70%) still lives in rural areas. It’s also important to note is that Indian crafts have been world-renowned for centuries, sought after by both aristocrats and common people. This was until the advent of Industrial Revolution, when mechanization changed everything.

The block printers, weavers, embroiderers that I meet in the course of my work are prolific in their work, they have the concentration and the skills required to produce high quality work, all done by hand. These skills are passed down from generation to generation, and the knowledge is deeply ingrained in each artisan community. However, with lack of direction on fashion and keeping it relevant for the modern-day consumer, handicrafts remains a largely disorganized sector that is still operated as a cottage industry. A majority of the artisans do not have the benefit of education either.

 

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Inspiring Contemporary Design – Em Royston’s Miniature Circuses

Sugar tongs, gift ideas, household, decor, unique-tabletop, gifts, Christmas-gifts, housewarming, original-gifts

Bone china tabletop items by designer Em Royston charm and amaze, like these Handy Tongs  inspired by the classic fairground vintage pointing hand so often found on signs.

Hong Kong based design firm Maid in China Design  is the invention of British artist and designer Em Royston. The firm specializes in luxurious stylish fair and circus themed house hold items. The inventive artist and entrepreneur studied design and has made items for brands like Suck UK such as Cross Stitch Map which found itself at both the Tate Modern shop and Urban Outfitters.  This is a contemporary approach to artful tea or coffee breaks. So, if you love all things sideshow, circus, and vintage fair -these unique items are for you. It was a great pleasure to interview Em for this feature!

 

Bone China, Artistic, Decor, Tabletop, Gift Ideas

I have always loved the idea of creating miniature worlds in unexpected places and table top seemed a great place to start. It’s quite a hands-on set that is meant to be shared and enjoyed -that should be quite a joyful experience- sharing a special afternoon tea with someone or chatting over a long breakfast.

 

Tiger-Toast-with-Jam

Toast Rack

What’s your inspiration? Why circus and sideshow themes? 

I love the timelessness of the circus – it has an appeal for all ages and seems so whimsical and magical. For design, I also think it is fascinating as it combines so many different elements and iconic imagery. And the purpose of the circus is entertainment, enjoyment, and surprise – and those are elements that I like my products to embody. I love the vintage posters, fair-ground stalls, amazing huge bell tents – and then it all gets packed away and moves on in these amazing ornate carriages. I think there is so much inspiration to find from that theme, and I’d like to think I’ve just scratched the surface..!

 

porcelain, china, unique sugar bowl, teabag storage, gift ideas, household, decor, unique-tabletop, gifts, Christmas-gifts, housewarming, original-gifts

Sugar Booth

Do you have any designers, artisans, or craftspeople you particularly admire? 

Oh, yes loads! Rebecca Finell has a lovely collection of homeware and fashion accessories – her origami handbags are amazing! I listened to an interview recently and found her story and diverse career really inspiring. Hella Jongerius for her playful work & stitched ceramics. Selletii is a brand that I’ve followed for a while and always enjoy seeing their new collections as they are nicely on that nice fine line between modern art and commercial design.

 

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Mug carousel tea set. Each cup sits in the stand, which spins like a true Merry-Go-Round.

How did you come to begin making table top items? 

It actually all started because I had the idea for the Carousel Tea Set – I loved the idea of making this functional sculpture that could be used as a cup and saucer set, but was also something to have on display that could spin and surprise people.

From the Carousel, it seemed a great chance to develop a collection to be used with that, and the Tiger Toast Rack was my next design. From the stacking circus mugs to the sugar pot disguised as a ticket booth, I’d eventually like to have a whole set that can be used together to create a miniature world, but is also a totally functional tea/ breakfast set.

You live In Hong Kong, tell me why and how you decided to move there, and what artistic culture is like there!!

Yes, I moved here last year! Hong Kong is very geared toward entrepreneurship and I’ve met so many people in the process of working for themselves or starting a company- that’s really pushed me on. The artistic community is fairly small but growing and it feels like an exciting place to be. This coming month I’m exhibiting at a handicraft market and can’t wait to see what else is available from the other innovative designer makers.

 

Bone China, Christmas Gifts, China, Porcelain, Unique-coffee-cups, Teacups, Handmade, Gift-Ideas, Circus, Animal Cups, Black-and-white-porcelain, Luxury-gifts, unique-gifts

Circus Stack Mug Set

 

Learn more about Em and her designs at Maid in China Design, or follow her on Instagram.

Coffee Service….Yes Please! Pretty Coffee Makers + Sets

 

 

crate-and-barrel

Perfection in presentation -beautiful coffee styling by Crate + Barrel

 

I love coffee, and my favorite morning ritual is drinking a cup of cafe au lait -my husband makes it for me every morning, an act of love and perhaps self protection as well.

 

 

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Nonetheless despite this loveliness, I have been thinking I want to prettify my afternoon coffee break. Things can get pretty hectic here at the beach house slash homeschool center slash writing office slash crazy kids jumping up and down.

So what way will I go, ultra modern matte Scandinavian style or Italian high modern? Or so pretty I cannot stop staring. I don’t know yet if it will be one or another or both but here are some pretty things.

 

via travis s warren @ tumblr.jpg

Via Tumblr -Oh hey there, yes keep it coming darling.

 

 

 

coffee services, tabletop ideas

 

16.05.14.Mjolk5679-thumbc.jpg Luca Nichetto Sucabaruca Coffee Set, Kihara Ceramics, Mjolk

 

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My heartfelt journey …. I want a beautiful coffee maker that is not fully aluminum -these are hard to find. The noble search goes on….Let’s start with the coffee maker, I love these cool ones from Rigby + Mac.

 

Alžběta Pilařová .jpgPhotographer Alžběta Pilařová

 

This is kind of how my table would look but not as picturesque. It’s like a tumbled dream, flowers, books, toys and delicious treats plus a coffee to delight.



 

What’s your favorite espresso coffee? ♥

 

 

Amazing Kids Dinnerware + Table Top Ideas

tabletop, Bloomingville, dishes, plates, kids-tableware, style, design, kids-decor, interiors

Nanna Design, Bloomingville Mini

 

We finally graduated from our collection of super cute vintage plastic plates + bowels and we are ready to use porcelain plates! I wanted to get something that would appeal to grade-school age kids,  but can be used into the teen years. And I wanted to avoid cartoons and Disney Princesses etc.

We have used a combo of single vintage plates in coordinating colors, and discovered Jim Ward’s (JimBobArt) amazing line of plates with humorous and illustrative style plates, RiceDK and so many great sets, enjoy the beautiful selection!

 

 

Jim-Bob-Art-UK, tabletop, Bloomingville, dishes, plates, kids-tableware, style, design, kids-decor, interiors

The Sandwich Defender Plate, Jim Bob Art

 

 

 

kids dinnerware upcycled the storybook rabbit via etsy

The Storybook Rabbit Shop

 

The Storybook Rabbit Shop on Etsy has great paintings on vintage dishes, like this wonderful rabbit plate above,  and while they run high in terms of pricing, they are just so charming, and make amazing gifts! And the Australian based artisan makes custom orders!

 

via BHLDN Weddings

BHLDN

 

If you chose vintage places I suggest hand washing so the finish does not come off and expose your kids to any toxic paint etc. Do not use cracked plates, and feel free to combine vintage pieces with usually pricey sale items single pieces from department stores, thrift or outlets.

I recently curated an amazing collection of animal themed plates for one little boy, each sources sourced from thrift stores or sales at retailers (where only odd numbers of plates are on sale) so this approach can be used for any taste.

 

 

orchow Spode Woodland Hunting Dog Dinnerware via Horchow

Spode Plate Set via Horchow

 

 

Rockett-St-George, tabletop, dishes, plates, kids-tableware, style, design, kids-decor, interiors

Rockett St. George

 

 

Wee-Gallery, porcelain, ceramics, tabletop, dishes, plates, kids-tableware, style, design, kids-decor, interiors

Wee Gallery

 

 

EBONY via Sketch Inc

Ebony Line, Sketch Inc.

 

 

RICEDK

Rice DK

 

 

 

Biobu Ekobo Plates

Biobu (Bamboo fiber plates)

 

 

 

lapincintron

Lapin Citron

 

 

Rice a:s dk Melamine Sailor Stripe Print

Rice DK

 

via kindzoblij nl

Kindzoblij

#howtodecorate #kidsdinnerware #creativetabletopdec0r