Cactus – the man, not the plant


On one of many productive adventures, I visited Bogota, Colombia to snoop around their textile scene. I had just made my first trip to Peru to visit their premier trade show in Lima, Peru Moda and Home, and to explore a bit. While planning this maiden voyage to South America I thought, might as well try to make a more thorough expedition. I contacted a few friends to see if anyone knew anyone, etc….and the gods of hospitality extended their hand to me once again. A friend of the family in Bogota invited me to stay, so I booked an extra leg to my trip, and off I went…..

In Bogota I was advised to take taxi’s carefully, not to be out in the evening on my own, not to have that much cash on me, etc. I was super intrigued by the museums and gardens and parks, but not very confident about exploring freely. But that approach wasn’t going to work all the time. At one point, the generosity and care taken by my host produced an invitation to lunch at the home of a distinguished professor and textile expert, Ricardo Carrizosa. For this trip I took a few buses and a publico, or van, to get to a mall where we had our rendezvous – that was absolutely nowhere on the outskirts of town. Then we drove into the hills to his beautiful home and art studio to have a very charming lunch among his flowers and a brilliant chat surrounded by his cache of folkloric wonders and books. I was schooled in Colombian artesanias – in addition to hearing all about Ricardo’s travels and intrigues!  Alas, it was too dark to take good photos.
IMG_2771 IMG_2780 IMG_2791 IMG_2798 IMG_2803 I admired the mantas antiguas Ricardo had thrown on the sofas – these handwoven beauties were from Peru and I had just picked up a few of the same for myself while in the Sacred Valley. Ricardo had found a veritable treasure trove of these precious heirlooms in Puno, in a little shop on a street just off the main Plaza, with mantas stacked to the ceiling! That sounded like Valhalla to me having just been introduced to these collectibles and already obsessed. He insisted that I get myself there at some point. Never having been to Puno, I wasn’t quite sure I would ever locate it. But there was another clue.. The man to see at the shop was an avid collector of Peruvian handwork of all kinds, maybe a bit of a hoarder even as I was to learn… He went by the name of Cactus – quite a flamboyant character in the town and well loved by all. Ricardo was confident that I would find him if I ever made the trip. I thought, hmmm, sounds farfetched, but…..

 

This is me, a year later in Puno, looking for Cactus, with a nasty bout of altitude sickness that kept me awake for nights.. I’m smiling, but it’s only because I have chewed up coca leaves stuck to my temples. I was instructed by the giggling ladies in the market place to do so because they could tell I had a migraine that was out of control painful. It didn’t work, but it was a fun distraction.

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Saheli Women

I was recently invited to work with a promising NGO based in Jodhpur, India – Saheli Women.  Since their director, Madhu, and I met in the fall,  I’ve been tinkering with product concepts to produce with these ladies. Mirror and embroidery work are their strengths and I am very drawn to both. Why not create an eye pillow or eye mask with embroidered silk? I’m obsessed with the patterns in tile work, at once so fine and imperfect, and have many photos saved from travels around the world. These are a starting point for a simplified embroidery motif.  And as far as mirror work goes, wall hangings are dancing in my head ! More soon……IMG_1352 IMG_1351

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In their own words:

Saheli Women is a nonprofit clothing manufacturer and ethical fashion social enterprise in rural Rajasthan, India. Located in the village of Bhikamkor, Saheli Women employs 20 rural women, providing them with fair wages, health insurance coverage and a safe work environment free from gender, religious and caste discrimination.

Saheli is a subsidiary of IPHD, Institute For Philanthropy and Humanitarian Development (IPHD), a women’s empowerment and rural community development nonprofit based in Jodhpur, India. It manages the Saheli Women production facility for clothing, accessories and homeware out of its community center in Bhikamkor. Additionally, IPHD sponsors the educations of all daughters of Saheli Women members, runs the only female health clinic in the village and delivers workshops on a range of topics including human rights, feminism, menstrual hygiene and health and financial literacy.

 


Mongolian style Booties

I swooned when I saw them the first time ..

All hand made, with loads of inspiration and in the spirit of high craftsmanship. The man who is working with me in NY on development of new designs, sampling, small batch production, etc., made them back in Georgia – ex-Soviet Union – before coming over with his family a few years ago. He studied fashion illustration at art school, and picked up all sorts of other skills as well. I’m talking with him about how to reproduce them! Black ones with grey copper details. Ivory ones with jute and copper and olive, close to the originals. I’m thinking to look for a sole that can stand up to the city. They will be precious, with 40 hours of work at least to each pair. Taking orders !! Write to us at order@nomadicthreadsociety.com with interest if you are swooning, too…..MongolianBooties Lasha


Sustainable Luxury Gifts!

What a pleasure to collaborate with Beautycounter, a truly progressive beauty company with an ethos that matches Nomadic Thread Society’s in many ways. We produced an order of our favorite handwoven alpaca blankets for them to give as gifts to their sales team at a lovely company event at the Santa Barbara Biltmore. Making finely designed, consciously produced gifts is another step towards responsible consumerism – companies, events, weddings, etc., can all make a difference by heading in this direction.


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Metallic Kimonos for Every Evening & Every Party

Nomadic Thread Society is proud to present a series of textiles of our own design. We’ve recently become obsessed with mixing natural with metal fibers. The result is this intriguing, diaphanous weave.
The Metallic Kimono emerges as the perfect “it” piece. It’s one size, multi-seasonal, and weighs nothing. Tuck it away in your handbag before work, and slip it on before an evening out. This signature piece works with infinite outfits ushering you easily from day to night.

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India !

There is so much to say, and yet I am fairly speechless.
A wonder for the spirit and senses, yet utterly confounding to reason..
No use trying to figure it out.
India is a land of infinite beauty and complexity. I shall always return.
What I do want to express clearly is a deep and lasting gratitude for the tremendous hospitality extended to me by colleagues and friends throughout my trip, and beyond. I felt I was held by their generosity as if in the palm of their hands. Never have I meant NAMASTE more than here.

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Join us on Our trip to India!

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Nomadic Thread Society will be traveling to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata throughout the next month..
We’ll be working with master artisans, collaborating with talented designers, foraging through market places, and generally getting a glorious eyeful.
We may even get a little fat on our favorite dishes!
Check out our Instagram for daily inspirations as we go.


Whimsical Woolen Color Strip

We were given this sample strip of colors by some lovely Peruvian weavers on a past trip… Still conjuring handwoven and embroidered pillow shams to cozify spaces in need…

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Looking forward to India

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Jacquard is our newest fascination. Our Spring ’15 collection will feature this eloquent hand craft. India is a great master of this delicate, intricate skill. We are experimenting at the moment with original jacquard designs, derived from our favorite ancient tiles… photographs of which have been collected over a lifetime. While we are in India, we will be working with artists to see if these new motifs can be achieved with jacquard.


Vapor Inspiration

Visual inspiration strikes in the form of subtle vapors- colorful, ethereal, moody, expressive.
We’re a bit obsessed and wanted to share. The artist is Filippo Minelli. Looked into his work, Silence/Shapes, and found that these colored vapors derive from his observation of smoke bombs at protests. Interesting how a smoke bomb can be used to scatter and scare and yet these artful interpretations inspire serenity. Matters of perspective and context, make us think…

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Shooting in Wonderous Andalucia

Truly a land of gypsies and nomads, at once lost in time and full of history…

Welcome to Andalucia, where the Sierra Nevada rises from the vastness and the locals keep things real.
Farms and mountains dominate, along with great Moorish forts and tiny remote villages. There is a powerful charm found in ancient olive groves, where trees are thousands of years old.

Nomadic was invited to shoot our Spring 2015 collection on a dear friend’s land. Said friend was also our talented photographer. The model was a neighbor, beautiful young Davina. Everyone participated, from Ramon, the gardener, who erected our tipi, to Sofia, Davina’s mother, who lovingly prepared our meals.

As always, an authentic, homegrown effort with loads of vision and love.

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D&A Green Room NY + LA

Here’s a little tribute to a community-making, business-incubating trade event, hosted by Designers and Agents twice yearly in New York and Los Angeles. Many and gracious thanks for the opportunity. We could feel the supportive energy of the founders and their team, and surely benefitted from their two thoughtfully produced boutique shows.

Extracurricular highlights included:
Mashti Malone’s ice cream shop in LA.
A visit with Oscar, the super cutie pup, who immediately claimed a one-of-a-kind Pisac Manta.
The wild container gardening display at a Bergamot Arts Center Sunday afternoon dance party.

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Back at the LA show, we met Edie Pereira of Specialty Dry Goods and picked up her gorgeous leather satchel. It reminds us of our Basil Racuk Indigo Ombre Paper Bag for it’s deconstructed beauty. We traded one of our ZigZag Ikat Bed Covers with Mandy Kordal of Kordal Knitwear for an eclectic fall “it” sweater of hers. Anita Arze designs an incredibly comfortable and stylish harem pant set which we were happy to trade for a Shibori Kaftan of ours.
Special thanks to Sanae of Sanae Intoxicants for her hospitality around town.

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birds, studs, and stones

Just back from another inspiring Peruvian buying trip. No altitude sickness this time, leaving me with plenty of energy to check out the beautiful colors, monumental scenery, and artful tribal elements…

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spring summer 2014 collection ** joshua tree shoot

The first thing we were told when we arrived at our shoot location and four-day-home this past October was; “Check your shoes for scorpions. Oh yeah, and check under the sheets, too!” The next thing that happened was grilling under the stars and a delicious bottle of red. We spent that first evening in Yucca Valley chatting with our host, Tracey Fischer, in her mid-century modern, high desert house. (www.highdeserthouse.com)
We spent the next three days up at dawn and down at midnight, working every hour in the sublime desert landscape. Our usual two-person crew had grown to three. Michael Stratton joined us as photographer.
Yikes! Joshua Tree National Park was closed due to the government shutdown… Miraculously, the neighbors have acres of precisely the same desert terrain, filled with our prickly J-tree friends, and elegant, massive boulders.
We had sunburns and giggles, cracked lips and gallons of water, but no scorpion ambushes in the end.
Here are some behind the scenes shots…


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That’s what the locals call Guatemala.
This past September, I attended a trade show in Antigua – a jewel of a colonial town, all
cobblestones polished with age, giant wooden doors, lush hidden courtyards, and very antique churches looking poetic in total ruins. Antigua has a live volcano for a neighbor: Pacaya regularly puffs small bursts of ash into the air, a phenomenon which in rainy season is best observed in the morning, when there are a few hours of visible sky.. completely enchanting.

The show was held at a beautiful hotel, a refurbished monastery with magical historic grounds and luxuriant spaces. Artisans and small producers from all over central America were present. I met with 5 different opportunities to collaborate in Guatemala and Nicaragua, and I have already begun with elegant, hand carved, wooden bead necklaces, hand woven rugs and belts featuring a smart contemporary sensibility, and hand woven blankets from brightly colored, artful typical textiles..

I will go back.

And I will certainly make time to return to lake Atitlan, where I enjoyed my traveler’s day off! I hung out at a secluded lakeside boutique hotel all morning, chilling and occasionally hurling myself into “the bellybutton of the world,” as the native Mayans sometimes refer to the lake. A truly peaceful, majestic landscape and rich piece of culture to dip into.


our shoot in tulum!

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On location in Tulum, Mexico in January 2013…
With a team of two happy, beach going, every-hat-wearing, Nomadic ladies!

The team consists of Nicole Gulotta and Jessi Highet; Nicole behind the camera and Jessi on camera. We handled absolutely everything; pre-production, location scouting, prepping, styling, shooting, modeling, editing, etc, etc, etc.. We absolutely had a lot of fun…
Next time we hope to head down with a full, proper crew!
We stayed at Yoga Shala, hung out at Uno Astrolodge, ate at El Tabano, and drank at Casa Jaguar. On our last day, after passing out accidentally on the beach next to a pile of towels, we were able to score a private yoga lesson with the loveliest and lightest of yoga teachers. We were guided to dance like Indian goddesses, in poses we’d never done before, in the windswept, oceanfront, yoga palapa at Shambala Petit Hotel— the perfect end to our adventure!