Explore our Crafts & Artisans
We personally travel the world looking for small community artisans to collaborate with on our own designs. We aim to keep beautiful ancient crafts alive for generations to come with handcrafted lifestyle products for the modern conscious shopper.
The best part of our job is exploring the vast, unknown lands in search of inspiring crafts people. When we find that perfectly humble, awe-inspiring artist, it’s like the days of dust and heat slide from our memory. A choir of angels chimes in harmony and ‘BAM!’, we have an idea. A ‘light-bulb’ moment of how we want to collaborate with the gem that stands before us. We welcome you to explore with us.
Banana Fiber Weaving
The first time we discovered this gorgeous little weaving nest in rural South India, we were simply mesmerized by the nimble fingers weaving banana fiber rope into all manner of products. A small group of women forming a weaving circle, chatting whilst working, rocking babies wrapped in saris and manning a small shop.
The entire studio was painted white with curved concrete walls, which showed off this natural sustainable fiber beautifully. We learned they were a village co-operative and, with the help of a very dedicated leader, they were learning to create some rather modern products from this very ancient technique. It didn’t take long for us to partner up and start creating our own designs for our brand. One of the most adorable things was to find each woman’s name on a piece of paper inserted into each of our Common Texture clutches, our customers receive this name whenever they purchase from us. It’s a connection to your maker.
How is it made? Firstly the fibers from the outer skin of the banana plant stem are dried. Small pieces of dried banana fiber are then twisted and hand rolled into a ball of thin rope that can be used as a natural thread for handicraft. This thread is then given to the women weavers to form our products. No machines are used during this process.
Besides the fiber's natural golden look, we love the fact that banana plants grow easily and don't require additional water to grow. A very sustainable alternative to cotton or silk. Banana fibers are completely biodegradable, yet super resistant and durable. Our tote bag uses 100 meters of rope and takes three whole days of hand knitting to complete.
Our weavers are part of a small cooperative. The focus of the cooperative is improving the living conditions for women and rope makers in the village, as well as education for them and their children. The cooperative has a small studio but the women are also able to work from the comfort of their home, making it easier for them to get work done with children to take care of. Common Texture works directly with the cooperative, we use no middlemen, to make sure all benefits go directly to the cooperative.
“Use me, love me, pass me on.”
Hand Block Printing
One of our favorite places to visit is the block printing studio that we use. It is such an oasis within a crowded Indian city; lush with greenery and gently bustling with inspiring activity, the unmistakable sound of wooden blocks being hit with the back of the hand. Oh, and the delicious sweet chai tea that’s always on hand.
How is it made? Block printing is an art in itself, dating back to 12th century India. It all starts with a piece of wood called a Bunta, a block carved from seasoned teak by highly trained craftsmen. They etch a pattern on to the wood for the woodcarver to create a stamp. To create a finished piece of hand printed fabric, it requires a wood block, a colorist for the natural dye concoction, a master to apply the print expertly to the fabric, and an amazing matriarch who conducts the whole show like a symphony.
It is a slow and beautiful process and we love the result that is created in this zen like atmosphere. Every item in our home decor collection is created this way, hand printed by our skilled block master and our intriguing color master who whips up her potions of vibrancy.
The block printing studio is woman-run and focuses on ethical and organic practices. Besides being fair-trade they work with certified eco-friendly pigment dye and ensure low-waste practices.
We are so happy the studio is able to find some new recruits to learn the skills handed down from the masters. At one point it was looking like this ancient technique might die out some day soon. Thankfully there has been a resurgence in the West and East for this traditional technique, as people shun the chemically driven printing process formed in factories. We turn to block printing as a more natural way to get a unique product.
"Embrace the beauty in the handcrafted."
Natural Fiber Weavers of Malaysia
Sometimes in our travels we come across remote communities that are making exquisite fine woven rattan items, as we found on the West peninsular of Malaysia.
The Temiar women weave with rattan and palm fronds from the Pandanus plants. They live in the jungle and survive on nomadic farming, which makes the rattan they use a sustainable resource. They are at one with nature and understand they should let the jungle regrow whilst they move to another area. It was such a surprise to find these intricate Malay Bangles that seemed to fit perfectly with our design values and natural fiber philosophy. Purchasing the bangles gives these communities a chance to educate their youth and even give them access to medical care. They lead a simple life and creative skills are passed down through generations keeping these traditions alive. Although there was a language barrier, they were some of the most welcoming people we have met.
"There’s nothing like the thrill of walking through the jungle and finding bangles."
Eco-friendly Design & Production
Whenever we design a new product we like it zero waste. A by-product of mass production is the enormous amount of fabric waste resulting from overproduction. Leftovers and surplus fabric end up in landfills or at best in local neighborhoods where fabric sellers try to make a living reselling it.
Products like our Do Good Yoga Mat Bags are created using carefully selected premium quality upcycled fabrics and trimmings in an attempt to reduce that fabric waste.
We believe our customers to be environmentally and socially conscious shoppers and that’s why they choose our products. We ship your orders as eco-friendly as possible, lovingly wrapped in packaging with a second life.
"Eco-friendly goods with clever design and superb quality."
Stitching & Leather Craft
Some of our stitching is outsourced to small local workshops that we have visited personally to make sure the establishments are ethical, friendly and fair places to work.
We also do our fair share of hands-on stitching ourselves. We have our own in-house leathercrafter who creates amazing leather accessories, from the design to the final product. We spend time searching for leather hides that are surplus stock to create our upcycled leather collection; we then use veg dyes and soften the leather for our requirements before cutting each piece applying a zero waste technique.
"Handmade one piece at a time."