Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tumblr Tuesday: Ermie

I love these gorgeous finds on Ermie's tumblr site. This California-based textile and clothing designer really has a keen eye for vibrant textures, hues, and artistic details. The flow from image to image is completely captivating and so tactile.

Do not miss Ermie's wearable textile creations via her online shop.

Ermie's Topanga Knit Maxi Dress / 100% organic cotton

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Incubating Now

It is not officially the holidays yet but I will be incubating and posting rather infrequently as I put the finishing touches on several fiber pieces that I am creating for Vogue Knitting Live in January. You can always follow my daily posts on Ecco*Eco's Facebook page as well as checking in with my visual journal, Lost in Fiber. See you here and there when I put my crochet hook down for a breather. I might be eating some cookies, too.

*image via Secret Little Gem

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Under The Mistletoe: Beauty Is In The Crafting Details

A Peruvian artisan proudly displays her embroidered belt made for Annie O.

Pick Up Stitch hand-knit belts by Eleanor DuFault

It is often said that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', and honestly it is also resides in the patient heart and mind of the crafter. I salute all of these artisans and designers for sticking with their craft to make the world a more colorful and uniquely textured place. Whether from a remote mountain top in Bethel, Maine, or the Andean highlands of Peru, there is no denying the satisfaction that comes from seeing your vision come to life. The stories behind these pieces are as inspiring as the end product. That's good (sustainable) value in my opinion.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Support Rural Artisans in India By Shopping Tilonia

Ariel Clay in a handloomed 'wild silk scarf' from Tilonia 

This artisan-crafted, 'wild silk scarf' is made by the Avani cooperative and is available online as part of the Tilonia collection. I wore it to last night's festive Holiday Pop Up Shop and Party at the Gershwin Hotel in NYC.

Avani artisan weaving for the Tilonia collection

Tilonia is a mission-driven, social enterprise aimed at developing the entrepreneurial skills and business capacity of artisan enterprises managed and owned by artisans in rural India. This non-profit was named after the small village of Tilonia, which is home of the Barefoot College. Since 1972, the college has worked to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor by training them to become “Barefoot” professionals. These semi-literate women and men from rural communities become Barefoot solar and water engineers, architects, teachers, midwives and paramedics, thus creating their own solutions to meet basic needs for water, electricity, housing, health, education and income. Tilonia is replicating the “Barefoot” model by developing and working with cooperatives (such as Avani) to train Barefoot e-commerce managers who operate the web-based platform and online store, manage and sustain the enterprise, and enjoy the economic benefit of a successful business operation. 

Ariel visiting the Avani cooperative in rural India

I had the chance to visit Avani last October to spend some time with the local artisans. Avani is a voluntary organization based in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas in northern India, providing employment and educational opportunities to over 475 artisans in these remote mountain villages. The artisans use wild silk, Tibetan sheep wool, and natural dyes to produce elegant, handloomed textiles. Avani is one of only a few cooperatives that manages the whole process of textile production, from working with farmers that grow the silk worm, to dying and weaving the textiles, to then marketing and selling the final product. 

The Tilonia artisan collections feature more than just handloomed, silk scarves – they also offer luxurious block printed home textiles, colorful women’s accessories and gifts reflective of contemporary styles that are respectful of Indian craft traditions. We encourage you to bring the color and spice of India into your home by shopping Tilonia during the holidays. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Under The Mistletoe: Artisan + Designer Handcraft Love

The great thing about writing a blog like Ecco*Eco is the dialogue that I have with amazing artisans and designers who enter my life on a daily basis. I want to lavish these folks with kisses and praise for the great handcraft and design work that they do. 

This my first 'gift guide' installment of unique work by individuals who I want to give thanks to this holiday season. I hope that you enjoy getting to know their thoughtful artistry and resourceful use of materials.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cruelty Free Friday: Share The Black & White Reality of We Animals and Cow Jones Industrials

'Polar bear in captivity at the Toronto Zoo, 2005' 

My amazing friend Donna Oakes of Cow Jones Industrials has a very special in store event tomorrow, Saturday, December 10, as well as an online special thru Tuesday 12/13.

As Donna shared with us: "For those of you who can make it to the shop, there will be the most delicious chocolates ever from Lagusta’s Luscious of New Paltz. Any item that is not already marked down will be 20% off that day with the online sale continuing thru 12/13."

Cow Jones Industrials will also donate 5% of gross proceeds from all sales during the month of December to the We Animals project. "I can’t describe how amazed I am by this project and photographer/activist Jo-Anne McArthur who is also the human subject in the The Ghosts in Our Machine," says Donna.

Jane Goodall’s words about Jo-Anne and her photos say it all: “Powerfully disturbing. These images take us to dark and hidden places visited by only a few determined and courageous individuals like Jo-Anne McArthur. They reveal the secret practices that many people will not want to know about."

Join me in contributing to this inspiring collaborative effort to eliminate cruelty towards animals by shopping at Cow Jones Industrials and fundraising for the We Animals project. Do It For The Ghosts.

Fundudzi Handmade Accessories Celebrate African Textiles and Cultural Preservation

I love the spirit of these accordian-style, handcrafted textiles accessories by Fundudzi designer Craig Jacobs and his team of talented local artisans in South Africa. This award winning designer uses re-inforced, laser cut traditional print fabrics to create one of a kind pieces for wearing as necklaces, bracelets, or cuffs. 

Fundudzi is now available online at JP Selects, and with an outstanding track record at South African Fashion Week and UN climate change events and sustainable fashion exhibitions, this vibrant and environmentally aware label is all about fusing traditional crafting methods with both cultural and ecological preservation measures. Other Fundudzi designs include the use of gorgeous colorful 'Venda' fabrics, sourced from the Limpopo Region where sacred Lake Fundudzi is located. The South African Government is currently reviewing the possibilities for making Lake Fundudzi a World Heritage Site. Craig Jacobs shared the following with us regarding this special fabric from the region: 

Venda cloth (image via Zoe Ann)

"A traditional print called 'seshweshwe' was quite ubiquitous in the late 1990's, and as a design writer then, I started investigating other prints and came up with the Venda print, which I felt was unexplored in our local design vernacular. I wanted to subsequently create a label which straddles traditional techniques and fabrications with a modern twist and fell in love with the Venda cloth and started researching the culture."

Jacket cover of New African Fashion by Helen Jennings. 

With the release of Helen Jennings' book New African Fashion, it is increasingly apparent that African textiles are an intrinsic part of our richly diverse global lexicon and need no longer be viewed as a regional phenomenon or subject to clichĂ©s or fashion stereotypes. Hopefully new fashion labels like Fundudzi will continue to help to redefine these style expressions and the application of new design methods.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beklina Holiday Graphic High Five

There is no question that Beklina is the go to source for stunningly bold graphic separates for the season's holiday parties and unique gift giving. These designs are not only total works of art but investments for a lifetime. Shouldn't everything you wear be worthy of being framed in your own little Fashion Hall of Fame? High five, Beklina. You have rocked it, yet again.