We were very luck to find Gouthami for our trip to India. Before she started her own travel company – Travel Another India – she spent 20 years working in social development and had made many great connections with craft people all over India. Gouthami introduced us to so many artisans and we had the pleasure of meeting many President Award winning craft people in remote villages. Here, she shares her knowledge on crafts in India with our readers!
Craft is the second largest employer in rural India after agriculture. In most villages you will find some form of craft – the potter, the weaver, the basket maker. It is still a way of life rather than an art to be practiced for its own sake.
In this picture you see just that. I visited the village of Nuapatna in the state of Odisha in Eastern India with the Tea Collection team.
Nuapatna is famous for its intricate Ikat weaving. In the background you can see the spindles of yarn casually stuck into the pile of sand, while the woman in the picture is wearing a hand-woven ikat sari as she goes about her daily chores.
Mahamaya in front of the piece she submitted for the National Award.
We had the honor of meeting with the very talented kantha artist Mahamaya Sikdar while we were in Kolkata. Mahaymaya is a President’s Award Winner & National Award Winner in her craft. She was in the middle of a move when we visited and graciously took the time to bring all of her kanthas to us so we could see her work. We got to see the incredible detail, hear about her process and discuss how she is helping pass her craft to younger generations.
Everyone knows India is a colorful place, but you don’t quite understand just how colorful until you are there. There is a beauty in the chaos of all these colors flowing around you. There are no neutrals. You don’t realize how plain and muted everyone dresses in your home country until you step foot in India. Men and boys wear pinks and purple without a second thought. Young and old proudly sport bright & bold colors that reflect the bright and joyous spirit of the people wearing them. Because everyone and everything in India is colorful we kept running into these special moments where a person wearing bright yellow would walk into a banana stand and suddenly camouflages into the background. Or when our photographer disappeared into a field of marigolds with his Ikat shirt he bought in Kolkota. We made collages of our trip pictures to try to share with you a little taste of these special moments.
When I first started designing for merchandise, I realized how many products had cute animal designs but weren’t doing anything to spread awareness or give back. Around the same time, I was working with a handful of non-profits who wanted to raise funds by selling products, but they didn’t have the funds or knowledge to design them. (Usually they would just sell a t-shirt with their logo on it, which would only appeal to the audience they already had.) I wanted to bridge that gap by designing product that would appeal to popular markets, but would spread awareness and raise funds for these causes, too. So for the holidays I created four greeting cards for some of my favorite wildlife organizations.
Our visit to the Bauhaus museum and library left us in awe. We were so inspired by Gunta Stölzl’s weaving and beautiful use of color. The watercolor sketches she used to plan out her weaving were especially inspiring. We used them as inspiration for our Berlin cityscape for girl and as print inspiration for our women’s blouse. Gunta Stölzl’s watercolors and Tea Collection’s Berlin Cityscape Graphic Tee. Gunta Stölzl’s watercolors and Tea Collection’s Berlin Cityscape Artwork. Gunta Stölzl’s weaving, photo of Gunta Stölzl’s weaving fabric, photo of Gunta Stölzl, Gunta Stölzl’s watercolor and Tea Collection’s Norderney Silk Blouse
What are you going to do when your little girl grows out of her adorable Pretty Panda Tee?
I thought it’d be fun to turn it into a pretty little teddy bear!
1. Gather your supplies: Tea’s Pretty Panda Tee, old baby socks/stockings, filling, needle, thread, scissors, pins, iron, sewing machine (optional)
2. Iron wrinkles out of shirt.
3. Cut back and front panel out of shirt. Line up graphic on back and front with good sides facing each other. Trim shirt leaving about 1″ around design. Sew around panda keeping about 3/4″ away from edge of graphic. Make sure to not make any of the curves too narrow or she will look funny when you stuff her. Also make sure you don’t accidentally sew into her little flower.
4. Turn her right side in & stuff her to make sure everything looks ok. If not, adjust appropriately. Once she looks like you would like you can trim some of the excess fabric from the inside. Lay your socks or stockings underneath the panda and judge how long you would like them to be. Trim down socks/stockings if there is excess.
5. Stuff the foot of both stockings. Leave of the top of socks without stuffing. Pin feet to bottom of panda. Sew across bottom of panda and feet.
7. I worked with a baby shirt so I did not have much excess fabric near her flower. This left me with an awkward bit of the shirt’s collar sticking out of the top of her head. I hand stitched that part to make it look better. I also took in the bottom edges to make the curve where her body met her feet more gentle.
8. I wanted her feet to feel heavy and for her to have floppy legs so I shoved all the stuffing towards the bottom of the foot and stitched around the top of the stuffing.
9. All done! Now you have a cute little panda with hanging feet.
Here she is with her new friends – Vintage Minnie, Blue Ostrich and Black Bear. They are all envious of Pretty Panda’s stylin’ argyle feet.
Discover the inspiration behind one of our favorite boys tops, the Black Mamba Tee.
Hiss-Hiss make this Black Mamba tee ‘hiss’ own.
Elephants at Thula Thula.
Me on my safari jeep with the Thula Thula staff.
At the end of our South Africa adventures I went to visit Thula Thula – the game reserve owned by Lawrence Anthony, author of the Elephant Whisperer – a book I decided to reread on our trip. The first night I was there – I was literally the only guest. I went to dinner and on the nightly safari drive with the staff and as it turns out, a few of the people from the book I was reading. It was a little scary sleeping in your own little house by yourself with no one else around. I heard a few creatures around my room throughout the night – but just kept telling myself they were only geckos so it was no big deal.
Rhinos at Thula Thula.
Hello, way up there!
The next day in between a morning bush walk and lunch, I went back to my room/cottage to read. I’ve never been especially squeamish around snakes – I watched a lot of crocodile hunter and “knew” how to deal with the poisonous ones. Then I get to the section in the book where one of the staff at Thula Thula gets bit by a black mamba, because he tried to grab it – crocodile hunter style. So then they talk about how you have 30 minutes to get anti venom but they can’t keep it on site because it goes bad too quickly. They have to rush this staff member to the nearest hospital – 45 minutes away. The math is not adding up to me and things aren’t sounding good for this poor guy. It was now time for lunch so I put my book away and glance up at the top of my mosquito net – and what do I see? A smiling black snake looking down at me. Well crap, now I am scared of snakes, or at least this snake. So while still in the safety of my mosquito net I try to get as close as possible to the door of my room. But every move I make the snake follows. I finally get the courage to brave it and leap for the door.
I went and found a ranger. He and the manager came back to my room to identify what kind of snake it was. Obviously, he was no longer in the same spot when they got there. But I wouldn’t let them leave till we found him because logically, I assumed the snake was going to hide in my luggage and wait to make surprise attack back in San Francisco. So we are all looking around my room and finally we spot the snake. But we are all pointing in different directions, because apparently it was a entire family of snakes that was lodging with me.
Well it turned out they were just a friendly black house snakes, so I was safe. But the experience inspired me to design our Black Mamba Tee. Black mambas actually do look quite friendly, so I made him a little scarier so his look better matched his reputation as the “deadliest snake in Africa.” Like what you see here? Check out all our new boys outfits.
A common house snake on your left and a deadly Black Mamba on the right.
Who do you think looks more friendly? The house snake is on the left and the Black Mamba is on the right.