Displayed on one of the prettiest websites I have seen in a while, is an adorable, colourful range of soft toys that have been exquisitely handcrafted by a group of talented artists in Woodstock, Cape Town. Taunina
is a company that produces an enchanting collection of one-of-a-kind collectable teddy bears, bunny rabbits and puppy dogs; each a precious gift designed to be passed down the generations as future heirlooms. Individually crafted, comprising of more than twenty panels, each soft toy takes around four to seven days to complete, in a process that involves hand cutting and stitching together the fabrics, before the intricate appliqué and embroidery is applied to create dainty images such as butterflies, birds and flowers. The fabrics used are selected for the vintage feel they give to the toys, and include iconic Liberty prints, as well as 100% natural fibres with no harmful dyes or colours. The initials of the artists are incorporated into each creation. The toys are delivered in custom-made hatboxes and come with their own passport, a certificate of authenticity that details information about the artist who created it and their wish for the world, the seamstress, the date the toy was created, the toy’s name given by its creator, and unique identification and registration codes.
Taunina is more than just toys; a social enterprise that seeks to bring together art, commerce and greater social awareness for the benefit of the communities it works with. Co-founded in 2011 by Tracey Chiappini-Young, Taunina is an anagram comprising the word ‘Tau’, which means lion, and ‘NINA an acronym that stands for ‘No Income, No Assets’, and conveys the philosophy of giving the artists who work at the company, mainly women from disadvantaged communities, an opportunity to earn an income and provide for their families, enabling them to become ‘lions of their own destinies’. Employees at Taunina are paid above market salaries, following a structure that sees 30% of the business’ profits before tax going to the artists; 20% going to a fund, entitled the Bear Essentials Fund that was set up to pay for needs such as education, housing and healthcare; and 10% going towards productivity-related bonuses.
[Image credits - top, Teddy Bear Detail; bottom, Teddy Bears at Barneys, New York - Taunina]
Globetrotters; the toys have appeared at Barneys, New york, and have now made their way to the iconic department store Selfridges, in London, Birmingham and Manchester, where they have taken centre stage in the store’s legendary displays, just in time for Easter; after which they will still be available to purchase in store. Following the success of the soft toys, a home décor line will be launching in April 2013.
For further information about Taunina and stockist informationvisit: http://taunina.com
The Ohemaa LXI
Cruise the waters of Lake Volta by setting sail in the luxury confines of the Ohemaa LXI
, Ghana's premier private yacht. Ohemaa means queen; a title appropriate for the stately yacht that mixes contemporary luxury with traditional Ghanaian culture; whilst the numerals, LXI represent the year in which the Volta River Project began- 1961. Having undergone renovation and refurbishment, the Ohemaa LXI is now offering its clientele a truly special experience from the moment you step on-board.
Tastefully decorated, the Ohemaa LXI promises a personailsed, relaxing retreat, accommodating up to twenty guests. Ranging from hourly or overnight bookings, each cruise is bespoke, tailored for individuals or groups, and caters for family holidays, romantic getaways, and business meetings should you be thinking of somewhere different to hold your next team-building conference!
[Image credit: top, Interior Lounge; centre; Bedroom; bottom, Deck - The Ohemaa LXI]
The hull is made of fibreglass and was built in 1988 in Germany, then transported to Ghana, where it was fitted with local materials, chosen to reflect the local culture, land and waters that would surround it. Guests on-board the Ohemaa LXI can take in the natural beauty and sights, that comes with life around the Lake. Lake Volta is a source of fishing and irrigation for local farmers, as well as having an important role for ferries and water transportation.
For further information about The Ohemaa LXI and reservations visit: www.ohemaalxi.com
Decléor Voyage – Madagascar Scented Candle
Premium aromatherapy skincare specialists Decléor
introduce a relaxing candle infused with 100% natural essential oils, whose scent and packaging evoke the rich and diverse eco-system found in Madagascar. Tonka Bean, Vetiver, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang, and Grapefruit are combined to create a blissful luxurious fragrance that naturally perfumes your living space whilst contributing to your wellbeing. Free of Palm oil, the Decléor Voyage – Madagascar Scented Candle has a sixty-hour burn time.
Deriving their formulations from nature, Decléor is committed to responsible and sustainable sourcing of the plants used and has set up a project called ASMADA
that works towards the conservation of Madagascar's eco-system and also supporting local communities. To date the project has seen more than 100 000 trees planted in the Masindray Valley; and £4.30 from each candle sold will be donated to ASMADA.
Voyage a Madagascar Candle priced at: £22
For further information about Decléor and to purchase visit: www.decleor.co.uk
For further information about ASMADA visit: www.asmada.org
In the mountainous countryside of the Kingdom of Swaziland a disused cowshed in a former dairy was turned into a candlemaking workshop that has become a local tourist attraction as visitors from all over the world stop by to see the production process, and array of unique candles. Whether round or triangular, animal or fruit; carved or hand painted Swazi Candles
are created and finished by hand meaning no two will be the same.
Swazi Candles was established in 1981 and soon began training and employing members of the local community in the art of candle making. The candles are made using a layered technique called millefiore, which is more commonly associated with Italian Murano and Venetian glass, commonly seen in the rare, and highly sought-after African Trade beads that became a popular form of trade currency in North and West Africa; where local varieties were also created. Applying the glass technique to wax has resulted in colourful and uniquely patterned works of art. The candles are formed from a slow burning hard wax outer shell which serves to preserve the designs; whilst the softer inner burns quicker creating a soft illuminating glow as it hollows out leaving behind a space that can be refitted with a tea light or votive to recreate the effect.
Spotting a gap in the market after an unsuccessful search to find modern invitation designs that showcased her vibrant Nigerian heritage prompted designer Ify Ojo to seriously consider creating her own range and led to the founding of Bibi Invitations
; an exquisite range of wedding and special occasion invitations designed to capture the vibrant celebratory spirit of Nigerian, and indeed many African special occasions. The company was officially launched in 2012 by three friends; Ify Ojo and Omena Babalola who are based in Canada, and Chinelo Agazie who is based in the UK.
Whether its layers and textures, or shimmer and shine finished with an indulgent flourish of contrasting ribbon; Bibi Invitations luxurious designs are inspired by traditional African fabrics such as Kente, Aso Oke, and Bogolanfini (Mudcloth); and are organised into three collections. Meaning Peacock in Yoruba, the Okin Signature Collection features intricate die cutting in patterns that echo Swiss lace, Aso Oke and traditional African embroidery enhanced by foil stamping on a range of metallic papers. The Ifeoma Collection is bright and bold inspired by the ever popular Dutch Wax prints; whilst the colourful Abena Collection offers stylish affordability.
Bibi Invitations are customisable, allowing you to personalise your chosen invitation by following a three-step process that involves choosing the card, paper, foil, ribbon and envelope colours from a wide variety of colours and patterns depending on the style chosen... and, if you happen to be planning your special event, or know of some who is then why not take advantage of the exclusive reader offer outlined below.
Bibi Invitations have kindly offered African Daydreams readers 10% of all invitation orders placed from Thursday 2 August 2012 until Thursday 6 September 2012. All you need to do is enter the code - 10Off at the checkout before shipping to get your discount.
Terms and Conditions
• A minimum order of 100 cards or over applies
• The offer applies to all designs across the three Bibi Invitations collections
• The promo code is free to share, to paste online or anywhere else for anyone to use within the allotted time
• Free shipping cost is not included in this promotion
• Production time for the wedding invitations is 6-8 weeks minus the shipping time
Gentlemen of Bacongo
Everytime the 'Gentlemen of Bacongo
' photographic exhibition came to London, I always managed to miss it, so whilst I was in Dakar I finally got to see some images from book; on display as part of a wider exhibition on contemporary African photography entitled 'Africa See You See Me', that was being held at the Goethe Institute, during the Dak'art 2012 Biennale. Since its release in 2009, the book and accompanying exhibition has delighted and captivated audiences across the world, taking them on a fashionable journey through the streets of Bacongo, Brazzville courtesy of the unique and immaculately dressed Sapeur's, whose colourful and flamboyant yet elegantly stylish dress sense has spread beyond the borders of Bacongo to other local and international areas that include Kinshasa, London, Paris and Brussels.
To say the Sapeurs are passionate about clothing would be an understatement; belonging to their exclusive club, La SAPE, 'Le Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes'; comes at a hefty price, with discerning fashion houses including Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier being the suits of choice, reputations are said to be staked on designer brand labels, imitations just won't do, and that includes the accessories. Once dressed in their finery informal contests are held as the Sapeurs of Brazzaville go head to head in a bid to 'out 'Sap' each other!'.
The images in the 'Gentlemen of Bacongo', were snapped by Italian freelance photographer Daniele Tamagni
, who first came across the Sapeur's style in 2007 when he visited Brazzaville; returning a year later to gather the images for the book. Of the Sapeurs' Daniele says, '...they are masters of style, they create their own style...'
...dedicated to the men in our lives as we celebrate Father's Day this weekend...however fashionable they are, or not as the case may be!
Last week the EU announced the potential banning of plastic bags as it outlined proposals to reduce the number of plastic bags used in Europe each year, after a public consultation revealed that more than four billion were thrown away each year. After massive campaign a few years ago lately I have noticed fewer people using the jute and other alternative shopping bags whilst doing their shopping, myself included and so was not surprised to find out that after four years of decline the use of carrier bags in the UK actually rose by 5% in 2010. From clogging up waterways to causing untold environmental damage plastics bags have been on the global agenda for a while, and according to a report on the BBC website
Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Bangladesh and China have already banned very thin plastic bags; Tanzania has banned ultra thin plastic bags; whilst Rwanda and Somalia have banned plastic bags altogether. Shopping still needs to be carried away though, and calls for something sturdy and durable, a factor which for a while saw woven baskets, and branded jute and cotton bags become very popular in the UK. I just love the rounded shape of the handcrafted Bolgatanga woven baskets from Ghana; they have a multitude of uses aside from shopping including doubling up as fruit baskets if you have a smaller size, carrying some of the washing if you have larger ones, storing toys, or taking to the beach.
Lightweight and usually available in a vibrant array of colours, the baskets take their name from the Bolgatanga region in Ghana and were originally created without handles, used as storage containers, before being adapted to carry items to and from the market. Bolgatanga is said to be the crafts centre of Northern Ghana with the largest producers of straw goods in the country. Bolgatanga baskets are made using elephant grass, a straw also known as 'Veta Vera' as well as palm and reed and can take up to three days to prepare. The Bolgatanga Basket Weavers Co-operative Club
established in 1995, is one of the main producers in Ghana with nearly 1000 weavers most of whom are women. The baskets have become quite popular across the globe as practical yet stylish alternatives to plastic bags, so if not visiting Ghana in person you can always find several places to purchase them both on and offline.
Additional information sourced from:
Prices vary: £17-£34/ USD$15-USD$42 / AUD$15-AUD$38
For further information about the Bolgatanga Basket Weavers Club visit: http://bbwcc.orgTo purchase Bolgatanga baskets visit:www.akomaskincare.co.uk
Creating textile-stamping blocks for use on fabrics as well as paper, Oshiwa
is a carving workshop based in Namibia. Established in 1994 by by Anita Brandt, the stamps are the creations of Kavango woodcarvers; Paulus Mutunda, Dhumba Joseph, and Joseph Kanwa who originally started out by producing hand-carved photo frames before turning to the textile printing blocks. Meticulously hand-carved the designs are based on whatever the artist feels compelled to carve at that moment, and each stamp bears the name of the carver written in pencil along the side or on the back.
The stamps are available as individuals or as part of a complementary set and there are many designs to choose from; and although most of the designs are one-of-a-kind running themes do occur, such as geometric patterns that are great for creating borders and stylised depictions of local flora and fauna. The stamps are made from African Wawa wood, which comes from Ghana. Wawa wood is soft and pliable making it perfect for carving the intricate details; the wood is treated and comes from certified sources controlled by the Forestry Department of Ghana. Textile stamping reminds me of my 'O' and 'A' Level art classes where I would get lost for hours experimenting with fabric designs, and uses for Oshiwa's stamps goes beyond the obvious, press them into clay or soap to add unique designs to your creations, frame them to hang on the wall, use them as decorative accents to edge a mirror, or even inlay into table, door or wall surfaces protected with a glass overlay if need be. And if getting to grips with stamp making proves a bit too much, then Oshiwa also produces beautifully printed finished textiles for retail.
Sadly, the economic downturn has taken its toll forcing a slowdown of production due to too many unsold stamps having accumulated, a situation that has seen the carvers having to look for other sources of income away from the Oshiwa workshop. Oshiwa has managed to secure a partnership with Rayela
, an American-based company, which sells the stamps through an Etsy site, however despite this the workshop in Namibia still has its ongoing maintenance costs that includes, promotion, production and development factors, which can eat into profits.
...you could have fun with these stamps and once done frame them as a reminder of your artistic endeavours.
Additional information sourced from:
Prices on the Etsy store range from: £1.94-£72.29/USD$3-USD$112
To contact Oshiwa visit: www.oshiwa.com
To find out more about Oshiwa Stamps and to purchase visit: www.etsy.com
US Rep is Rayela Art: www.rayela.com
No words necessary with this sentimental card that captures the spirit of love. Using felt, the card is handcrafted by Harare based company Shumba Inc
, whose cute and quirky products I have featured before here
Additional details:For further information about Shumba Inc and to order visit: www.shumbainc.com
Miller Harris/Le Touessrok
In search of some sun and relaxation and a break is out of reach at the minute then let a limited edition Miller Harris’ candle bring that holiday feeling to you. Inspired by the landscape and local spices of Mauritius, perfumer Lyn Harris of luxury British company Miller Harris
has teamed up with Le Touessrok
, one of Mauritius' most elegant resorts, to create a fragrance and scented candle, entitled ‘Cardamon Sucre’. The fragrance is only available to purchase directly from the resort, however the candle can be purchased from Miller Harris stores, as well as the hotel if you are lucky enough to visit. Conducting research for the scent, Lyn's first view of Mauritius from the airplane when coming in to land was of the sugar cane plantations triggering ideas for the resulting scent, which contains lemongrass, sweet cardamom and bergamot notes.
[Image source: Miller Harris Cardamon Sucre Candle - Red Online]
…bring the holiday feeling home with the aromatic fragrance of Mauritius
Cardamon Sucre candle is priced at: £36
For further information about Miller Harris visit: www.millerharris.com
For further information about Le Touessrok visit: www.letouessrokresort.com