Home » follow the story » cambodia

From cambodia

A mindful Christmas!

waw_blog_christmasproduct_1

There are so many pressures and marketing ploys coming at us at Christmas time that I often feel overwhelmed with the amount of choice and am tempted to lose the ability to mindfully choose gifts!

We have enjoyed slowly selecting, designing and creating products with gift-giving in mind this year as it has given us opportunity to consider

the maker….

the budget….

.the sustainability…

of the items we offer for sale and gift ourselves!

We can’t wait to use our new ply ornaments in our upcoming market and gift proceeds to NEVERTHIRST in Cambodia.

We envisage our timeless leather stars adorning gifts + being stitched and created into gorgeous Christmas Ornaments in our Riverbend Classes.

Our fabric wrap is a well considered item as a ‘gift that keeps on giving’ and we imagine countless ongoing uses for the luscious layers of charcoal and stone.

Our fabric pages texturally convey a message of love that can be framed and enjoyed as a work of art on your wall.

And oh! The stunning floaty-scarf goodness is highest on my to-gift-list for all its textural loveliness and all the ways we imagine this totable fabric can be used.

If you are looking for soul-filled natural and textural gifts this Christmas, you might like to take a peek in our etsy store. We do so hope you find the perfect gift for a loved one or two in there…..

Martha Street Festival on 25th Nov!

Community gathering is our favourite flavour of the Christmas season.

We are excited to join the Martha Sreet (Camp Hill) Precinct street party this year!

waw_martha_festival2014

Invited by lovely children’s boutique Teenie and Tiny, we will be hosting a simple+elegant craft stall outside their store.

Create one of our gorgeous ply + metallic decorations for ONLY $2!

IMG_3850

This is a special offer for festival attendee’s only – we will have additional decoration pack’s available for sale on the night at their normal recommended retail price and also in our online store..

We custom designed these timeless baubles to adorn your tree or a special gift – join us as we add some seasonal colour. Purchase some additional decorations to custom paint in your own colours or purchase additional paint on the night – these make a wonderful gift!

$1 from every decoration created will be gifted toNEVERTHIRST‘s water projects in Cambodia.

BRISBANE LOCALS! Join us from 5.30-7.30pm on Tuesday 25th November.

Enjoy shopping, dining, entertainment and a little visit from Santa!

IMG_3858

a lovely giveaway for you!

Picture3 640px

It is a beautiful truth that giving is better than receiving.  And so for you, oh lovely friends, we have a giveaway to celebrate the launch of our gorgeous handwoven and naturally dyed scarves.

Would you like one?

Simply subscribe to our blog and leave a comment below by midnight Sunday 16 November.

We’ll gather all the entries in a hat and randomly draw the winner of one of our lightweight scarves.  Now all you have to do is decide what color you like…charcoal or stone?

[ To subscribe to our blog, add your email address in the grey box at the bottom of this page.  If you already subscribe, you don’t need to do it again, just leave us a comment to let us know you’d like to win! }

This competition has now closed…we’ll be announcing the winner oh so soon…

launching our new spring-summer scarves

4 November 2014 392a 640px

IMG_4050 640px

Oh!  We are loving these gorgeous handmade scarves and we are giddy-excited to launch these spring-summer lovelies to you!  We are hoping you will enjoy them as much as we do!

Luscious naturally dyed cotton has been handwoven into the perfect scarf length.  They are beautiful to touch and oh-so-soft around your neck and shoulders.  The weave catches the light and showcases stunning textural goodness.  And the thing we love most about these scarves?  They are gorgeous in their versatility.

To launch this wispy daydream, we’ve chosen two weaves because we use both on an almost-daily basis.

Picture2 640px

Our lightweight scarf, available in charcoal and stone, is an open weave, creating a deliciously light fabric which also provides warmth.   On these warmer spring days it’s not too heavy and hot to wear around your neck, and you can then drape it around your shoulders if you feel chilly.  And its length is perfect for some scarf-tying creativity!  We’ve also used this scarf around our homes – softness on the arm of a couch, fluttering lightly in an airy window space, tucked into a handbag in case it’s needed.

IMG_4083 640px

Our weft+warp scarf is a closer weave, with the different coloured weft and warp threads creating a beautiful woven fabric which provides warmth and functional loveliness.  A sublime rivergum colour, this scarf can double as a summer sarong, table runner, bed runner, couch throw, cushion cover, wall art, or window dressing…there are so many beautiful ways you can use this scarf around your home, and then it’s always ready to grab on your way out the door.

IMG_4233 640px

We are excited to partner with a community of artisan weavers in rural Cambodia who take raw cotton and dye it using natural plant dyes to create a beautiful palette of subtle, natural colours.  These cotton threads are then handwoven on traditional timber looms by families who have been weaving for generations.  The result is a fabric which we find stunning with its natural imperfections.  Each dye-pot will vary slightly in colour, each length of fabric will be just that bit different depending on who weaves it.  There is nothing uniform or mass produced about these scarves, and that is exactly why we love them.

If you would like some handwoven spring-summer goodness, take a peek in our etsy shop window!

Picture1 640px

a little bit of toe dipping…

4 November 2014 662 640px

There is a lot of nervous-excited around here at the moment.  You know what that feels like, don’t you?  That deep-inside tumble and turn, flip and flutter as you plan, anticipate, dream and dread.  Hope and fear all wound into one that rolls and roils around in your head and dives deep in your heart.

And all this?  All of this for some sweet daydreams that have continually meandered their way into our conversations, floating through ideas and plans, weaving their way into our hearts and our families.  Daydreams we have grabbed with fierce passion but also held  loosely, for while we love to dream, we also know it’s sometimes hard to find those other people who dream the way you do.

So tomorrow we will let these daydreams drift free and share them with you.  Lovely, wispy, handmade daydreams of weaving a little bit of better into this world of ours.  We won’t think less of you if you think tomorrow looks like we’re just trying to sell you some scarves.  We get it, we really do.  But we are a little bit hopeful that maybe you would like to jump onboard this dreamy idea and journey along with us for a while.

Because our hearts are full of so much more than a piece of fabric which looks nice and keeps you warm.

28 December 2013 083b 640px

Seven years ago I met a community of handweavers in Cambodia and the daydreams started to wisp.   I shared their beautiful fabrics with Melissa and slowly, slowly, gently, gently over the years with me in Cambodia and Melissa in Australia,  the daydreams took hope-filled form.  And a year ago Melissa and her family journeyed to Cambodia to see and share in my family’s life, and put pictures on my tales of preserving skills and handwoven and community and income generation and sustainability and environmental responsibility and toil and grind and joy and hope.

28 December 2013 208a 640px

28 December 2013 403 640px

And it’s all of these things which are woven into each scarf, each length of fabric.  Tales of lives which are real, people who laugh and cry and share and hurt.  People who have a shy hope that the work of their hands, the yield of their days will be treasured for its inherent natural beauty and valued for its authenticity of process.  People who work hard so they can eat and learn and live and grow.  People who we seek to honour as we share their handwoven goodness with others.

28 December 2013 206a 640px

We are dipping our toes into the ocean of online selling, tentatively, and like our Cambodian friends a little shyly.  We’re starting small and are happy to tell you this {because we value transparency and authenticity} and we look forward to your response.  We’re hoping that these scarves and this fabric resounds with you deeply as it does us, we’re hoping that you too will find practical ways for this fabric in your days, we’re hoping that you too will value the labour of our friends in Cambodia.  {Hope is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?}

And so we stand, dipping our toes and holding our daydreams on a string like a balloon, ready to let go and see where these wispy dreams float.

We look forward to tomorrow!

Riverbend Christmas Creativity returns!

waw_riv_christmas2014

WE ARE SUPER-EXCITED ABOUT THIS YEAR’S CHRISTMAS CREATIVITY AT RIVERBEND BOOKS, BULIMBA!

With warm tactile leather + fabric alongside sustainable design processes, we are proud to present a fresh new take on Christmas decorating!

Of course, these are first and foremost children’s classes and so we are excited to jump into the wonderful world of artistic inspiration from the famous Alexander Calder on through other screen printing + fibre artists. From this inspiration we have developed skills-based classes that are fresh and contemporary!

For the first time this year, we are offering an ADULT CREATIVITY CLASS and also a PARENT+CHILD CLASS! In these classes, you are able to choose the project you would like to complete – please read the class description carefully and leave your selection in the comments section of your booking.

Take a wander through the classes we have on offer below and click on the title of the class to go to our events page and BOOK NOW – these classes fill very quickly! We hope you enjoy:

29 October 2014 011

WIRE + LEATHER WREATH

Alexander Calder was an American sculptor known as the originator of the mobile, a type of kinetic sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended components which move in response to motor power or air currents. Calder’s stationary sculptures are called stables. He also produced numerous wire figures.

Using inspiration from Calder’s work, we will experiment with the wire medium to form 3D shapes. We will use these twisting+bending techniques to create a unique Christmas-inspired wreath form. Calder also added solid forms to his mobiles for counterbalance. We will look at ways to weave gorgeous leather + fabric leaves into our wreath-sculpture for a truly stunning result! The perfect marriage of art + craft for Christmas!

Each student will create 1 wreath in this class.

IMG_3841

LEATHER STARS

Oh soft caramel leather you truly make us weak at the knees! Students will engage with the slow art of hand stitching to create these beautiful leather + fabric ornaments or gift tags.

These are a beautiful layered addition to your tree, a hanging garland or a unique handmade gift tag. Students will choose and cut fabric stars from our beautiful selection of handwoven + naturally dyed fabric and accented with vibrant felt in Christmas green to layer behind their leather stars! The sparkling bronze adds a festive touch as the students thread + stitch their fabric soft sculpture together!

Each student will create 3 stars within this class.

29 October 2014 035

PRINT YOUR OWN FABRIC + PAPER WRAP

This year we are excited to announce a class with a sustainable message!

WEAVE+WONDER are proudly offering the gorgeous naturally dyed and handwoven fabric sourced from traditional weaving families in rural Cambodia. As we introduce this gorgeous fabric into the Australian market, we are motived toward sustainable uses for it. We couldn’t think of a better beginning than using custom sized pieces as fabric wrapping for Christmas!

In our printing class, we will learn simple printing, stamping + stencilling techniques and work on pattern repeat in order to create unique designs for our fabric wrapping. We will use humble brown paper also as a ‘test run’ for our fabric pieces but also as useful wrapping in itself!

Students will print 1 large fabric wrapping sheet (can be used as two smaller sheets) as well as significant length of custom printed wrapping paper.

There will be additional fabric wrapping sheets available to purchase in all classes.

the floorboards

495 640px

The floorboards sit high, these smooth cool timbers where bare feet tread softly, where slumber matresses lie enveloped by mosquito nets, where bowls of rice gather and legs tuck under and chopsticked meals are shared.

2 October 2013 056 640px

The floorboards sit high, tall on wooden legs to keep people afloat on the rise and fall of floodwaters, to keep a cool-box of breezes in an oven landscape hot and dry, to keep rain’s tears from sorrowing on daily labours.

The floorboards sit high, softly creaking a slow tune that marks the daily dance of routine, sliver-cracks listening for the soft murmur of nearby coconut palms, throbbing-swaying with feet hard-angry or jostle-playing.

536 640px

The floorboards sit high, framing the oxen with nose-rings pulling the wooden plow, the workers bending low in paddy-waters planting rice babies, the family-large travelling from near and far swinging the harvest scythe.

It is under these floorboards high the weavers place their treasured timber looms. In the dirt dry and hard the arms wind warp threads long and thin, the fingers gently untangle and straighten, the hands guide the shuttle-weft back and forth. Back and forth. There is rhythm and movement and motion. And long pauses while threads are separated, tension adjusted, cotton breaks repaired.

28 December 2013 208a 640px

28 December 2013 640px

And from this web of threads, fabric is birthed, sheets of cotton-colour smooth and naturally imperfect, beautiful and good. It is a long labour, this handweaving of threads, and it is the labour which creates the value. For when you understand the work and the time and the skill each metre requires, you treasure each long length and each tiny skerricky-offcut.

photo 1a640px

They take me back, these woven scarf-threads around my neck, to these villages of rice-farmers and loom-weavers. To the timber boards families nail into homes and the timber tools they work for income. When I close my eyes I can hear the sounds and smell the smells and see the details of these rural Cambodian villages. Where under a house a loom has been worked to create a scarf which soon will be packed in a suitcase and luggaged onto a plane to fly to this land and find new hands to share its textural-loveliness.

There’s a little bit of excited anticipation happening here as we await our first delivery of handwoven and naturally-dyed cotton scarves from Cambodia. Oh so looking forward to sharing these with you!

the fabric of family

photo 800px

Today took a detour in our neatly mapped week.

Melissa and I usually work together three days a week, precious hours gleaned between school drop-off and pick-up, and we fit other makings and doings and blog posts and emails around our families, which usually means working at night.  We deeply appreciate the flexibility WEAVE+WONDER provides, allowing us to take new routes and pit stops in our weeks so we can give to and respond to the needs of our families and friends.

Today was a small detour, a scheduled day of joint creative product development postponed by one of Melissa’s sweet girls home from school needing some slow and quiet mama time.

The creative product development we’re working on this week is all about a fabric foundation.  The beautiful naturally dyed cotton which is handwoven in Cambodia continues to inspire our makings, and as I sit today and mull over the colours, the textures, the weaves, I’m softly sad that I’m not there in that little Cambodian wooden house stacked high with woven wonders and filled with families working together and growing up alongside.

Childcare outside the home is a relatively new concept for Cambodians and is slowly growing in popularity in the larger cities.  But for the most part, children grow up intertwined participators in their family’s income generation.

19 October 2013 281 800px

For some babies it’s sleeping in a hammock slung between the handles of a garbage recycling cart, swinging over the dusty roads as their parent collects rubbish all day to earn a few dollars.  For some toddlers it’s learning to walk in the street-front of their small home partitioned into a shop selling instant noodles and shampoo sachets and Coke bottles filled with petrol.  For some school children it’s helping their mother sell vegetables each day at her market stall.  For some teenagers it’s fishing the waters or harvesting the rice.

6 October 2013 543 800px

For the weaving families who spend their days working the loom, weaving the cloth, winding the threads [ on bicycle-wheel spinners ], their children too are woven into their labours.  Snoozing in a hammock, playing with spools of colour, helping tend fires below the pots of dye, and maybe one day starting to learn the techniques and the skills and the creative artistry from their weaving parents and grandparents.

28 December 2013 158 b&w

It’s a very different way of living and working and growing to what is familiar in Australia, and I love how both have informed our family ways.  It has helped us realise a compartmentalised life may be a little more controlled, a little more ordered, a little neater, but it may also miss out on the creativity and learning and connectedness that can come from the messy, the disordered, and those unscheduled detours in your week.

the start of the thread

28 December 2013 137a 800px

Every story has a beginning.  A place where, when you unravel all  that is woven and tangled, you find the start of the thread.

This is the start of the thread, the start of this story.  A tale of people I met in Cambodia in early 2008, good and honest and beautiful and humble and hardworking and creative people, whose lives and livelihoods wove in and out of the six years of days I lived in Cambodia.

This is a narrative written on pages of fabric, raw and natural and authentic fabric, that ignited in me a creative response that would both spark and glow, scald and burn in my Cambodia years.  This is the fabric we use in much of our WEAVE+WONDER creating, making that flows from our tactile response to its natural beauty.

And so the thread starts…

My feet were bare on the worn smooth timber floorboards, shoes left at the door as is Cambodia’s custom, keeping outside’s dirt outside.  The light stayed outside too, the small barred windows only dimly illuminating this house of dark timber walls and floors.  But what I could see was shelves filling one wall of this house stacked high with rolls and folds of fabric.  Beautifully imperfect handwoven cotton textures.  Muted botanical colours.  Loose wefts escaped from their warps.  Colours over and under making stripes and checks.

376 800px

In this land of bright patterns and vibrant colours, polyester and cheap brand knock-offs, the treasures held by this little house sitting quietly unannounced on a dusty Phnom Penh street made my creative heart sing.  And to meet and connect with people whose days were filled with the rhythmic labour of dyeing and weaving, creating fabrics using nature’s colour-pot and time-old weaving techniques on timber looms smoothed by years of busy hands, was a gift.

This is a small community built on big ideas.  It is the passion-hope of a beautiful family from South Korea, who wanted to work alongside Cambodians to empower and teach, equip and nurture.  When they arrived in Cambodia they weren’t sure what this would look like, and took time slow to consider the needs of the people and the sustainability of options.  This couple, a pilot and a teacher/artist, connected with weaving communities in rural Cambodia and became determined to help preserve and stimulate traditional weaving skills which were in danger of being lost by mass production, low wages, and a younger generation moving to the city to seek secure employment.

28 December 2013 092 800px

When a dear friend introduced me to them in 2008, this couple had gathered around them in the city a small community of people learning together the technicalities of weaving, the art of natural dyeing, and the realities of establishing a sustainable business model.  They lived together, worked together, grew together, struggled together.  They worked with families from rural weaving villages, supplying them with the long skeins of cotton dyed in pots of boil-colour, visiting them regularly to mentor and monitor, and returning months later to purchase the rolls of fabric.

It was this fabric, these rolls of fabric, that sparked my creativity.  But it was the people, the beautiful Cambodians and their Korean mentors, who softly spoke to my heart.

To know those who toil and labour to make and create is a gift of authenticity. 

Handmade is stamped with integrity and purpose when you know the reasons undergirding the making.

These were important lessons I tucked away and held close in the coming chapters of this story.

390 800px

[ Grateful thanks to Melissa for inviting me to be part of WEAVE+WONDER, and encouraging me to share this story.  There will be more threads to follow on another day when the remembering comes quietly… ]