Eggshell

Eggshell

Eggshells are one of those typical, true wonders of nature. They protect, feed and give birth to new life. Therefore there’s great and meaningful resemblance with the art of eggshell inlay created by our craftsmen in Vietnam. Using one of Mother Earths most fragile materials, they give birth to incredible works of art.

The art of eggshell inlay originated in China around the time of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). The technique spread from China to Japan via Korea and ultimately became one of Vietnams most well known traditional crafts.

Using eggshell requires the skills of true artisans, who inherited their knowledge from generations of craftsmen and brought it to perfection in order to create the true treasures.

The eggshell is inlaid into one of natures most durable products: lacquer. The combination of these two materials, using centuries-old techniques, result in the most exquisite and original lacquerware crafted by hand today. Eggshell inlay uses (hatched) duck eggs, because of their inherent thickness and whiteness.

The eggshells are cleaned, arranged in a pan and roasted over a bed of hot charcoal. A range of coloration can be achieved: from light mocha to deep chocolate and from burnished gold to ash black.

Contemporary artisans manufacture fiberglass moulds enabling them to create exceptional forms of variable size and scale: enormous planters,
oversized vases and bowls, long tables, chairs, consoles, mirrors, boxes, decorative plates and frames. Each piece of eggshell is glued on to the mould with great attention for it’s effect on the overall design. Multiple layers of lacquer are then applied. The piece is finished with purified beeswax polished to a high gloss.

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Stingray & Parchment

Stingray

Stingrays, phantoms of the deep, have captured the mind and imagination for centuries. They’re large and usually friendly but in precarious situations stingrays can be extremely lethal. Their strong image perfectly represents their skin, which is rough and tough but gorgeous.

Stingray and shark skin is called ‘shagreen’ and was originally used to rub, polish or file. A master leatherworker in the court of Louis XV (Jean-Claude Galluchat) first popularised the use of stingray leather, using it as veneer on a variety of items including sheaths, wig cases, perfume flacons, sewing and snuff boxes.

Later the artisan John Paul Cooper wrote ‘shagreen is possessing some of the qualities of both mother of pearl and leather’. The qualities for which this fine leather is valued are also what make it so difficult to work with. It’s combination of extreme hardness and elastic softness requires great patience and skill to produce flawless products.

Parchment

Writing has always been a form of art, but it’s hard to imagine that the production of writing materials used to be a form of art too. Today we simply grab a pen and a piece of paper but in ancient times it took months, just to produce something to write on: parchment.

Parchment is a thin material made from hide, usually from calf-, sheep- or goatskin and often split. The distinction between leather and parchment is that parchment is limed and not tanned; therefore, it’s very reactive to changes in relative humidity and is not waterproof. Finer-quality parchment is called vellum. Parchment was developed in Pergamon, from which it’s believed the word ‘parchment’ evolved, as a substitute for papyrus.

To make the parchment more aesthetically pleasing or more suitable for the scribes, special treatments are used. Thin pastes of lime, flour, egg whites and milk are rubbed into the skin to make it smooth and white but there are recipes to tint parchment in a variety of colours including purple, indigo, green, red and peach.

Rubbing pumice powder into the flesh side of parchment, while it’s still wet on the frame, is used to make it smooth and to modify the surface to enable inks to penetrate more deeply. Powders and pastes of calcium compounds were also used to help remove grease so the ink would not run.

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Mother of Pearl

Mother of pearl

The worlds oceans are often considered the ultimate source of life: an immense force, which has an effect on the weather, our climate and our life in general. Keeping this in mind it’s not a surprise that this true element of life holds wonderful treasures for us to enjoy. Mother of pearl is certainly one of them.

Mother of pearl is the term for to the reflective substance on the inside of mollusc shell. This substance, known as nacre, is the same as the mollusc uses to coat a foreign particle that made it into it’s mantle, irritating it’s muscular tissue. A pearl is a result of this self-protective process.

The Asians were among the first to cultivate mollusc for the lustrous quality of their inner shells. Once harvested, artisans cut the shells into predetermined shapes with a coping saw to create the most intricate designs.

The cut pieces of Mother of pearl are approximately 2 millimeters thick. Just as individual shapes are first drawn onto the prepared shells, the patterned design is drawn directly onto a mould. The pieces, cut to precision, are glued on the surface pattern.

Once the Mother of pearl has been laid on, layer upon layer of lacquer, then plaster, lacquer, then plaster, is applied successively, until the lacquered surface is equal to the level of the Mother of pearl. Each layer is dried and then rubbed smooth using fine sandpaper and water. A final polished glaze of lacquer finishes the piece.

Mother of pearls unique undulating grain is the result of seasonal fluctuations in a molluscs diet. Darker layers arise during winter months. Lighter layers during warmer summer months.

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Seashell

Seashell

Seashells are the abundant armours of the sea. They protect the extremely vulnerable molluscs, which are living inside it and keep them safe from life-threatening dangers around them. But apart from that, haven’t we all experienced memorable times while

searching seashells? It’s just that that makes seashell one of those typical “feel good” products. They look incredibly beautiful, bring back memories and put a smile on people’s faces.

Seashell have been used as human adornments and jewellery since prehistory. They were used for items such as beads, buttons, brooches, hair combs and rings. Shell necklaces have been found in Stone Age graves as far inland as the Dordogne Valley in France.

Seashell textures and uniqueness make them very decorative and suitable for finishing a variety of objects, like bowls, vases and lamps. Each and every object will shimmer like a treasure of the sea and truly come alive.

There’s a surprising degree of variation in the shape, pattern and ornamentation of seashells. Reason for the exquisite colouring of a given species is not always clear. Sometimes it is for it’s protection, as camouflage against predators. But just as often there doesn’t appear to be any practical reason at all. But one thing is sure: the shells are simply beautiful.

The process of cutting, shaping, grinding and polishing the shells renders them magnificent. Large numbers of seashells in numerous colours and structures can be used to create inlays for mosaics, decorative walls, furniture, vases, boxes and accessories.

Processing seashells is a very hard and difficult task, which can only be carried out by an experienced

specialist. Therefor a craftsperson relies on knowledge passed down from his ancestors and years of interned experience before he can claim mastery of this exceptional craft. No school can teach what these artisans need to know. Practice, patience and passion are key requirements to becoming a true master.

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Stainless Steel

Stainless steel

Stainless steel, as a metal and decorative item, is a true mirror of life. Sometimes it reflects the bright side of life; sometimes it’s ‘glazed’. And what to think of the discrepancy between flexibility and toughness? Stainless steel represents a form of purity that attracts and touches many of us, so maybe having a heart of steels isn’t that bad after all.

Stainless steel is the ultimate form of hardware. It’s robust, strong, ethically correct and easy to maintain. Besides there’s an endless list of possibilities and functionalities it can be used for: stainless steel is incredibly versatile and the look of it can be combined with many types of interior design.

Stainless steel, also known as inox, is an alloy (iron, nickel and a maximum of 1,2 % carbon) with a minimum chromium percentage of 11 to 12 added. Stainless steel doesn’t easily corrode, rust or stain with water like ordinary steel does. Today, adding elements such as titanium and silicon enriches many types of steel.

French metallurgist Pierre Berthier, who noted the resistance against attack by acids and suggested the use in cutlery, first recognized the corrosion resttance of iron-chromium alloys in 1821.

Hammering does curving the stainless steel parts for inlaying on objects. At the end of the inlaying process, the stainless steel is totally brushed or polished.

 

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Bone

Bone

Bones literally are the structure of life. They carry us around and keep us safe from harm. Although bones and skeletons have a strong connection with

death, there are cultures that offer them a second life through works of art and utensils. In a way that’s a beautiful thing: giving birth to something new through the use of such a strong symbol for ‘the end’. And the results are astonishing. Incredible works of art, inlaid or decorated with pieces of bone.

The history of people using bone objects is long and rich. In China for example, as early as during the Hemudu Culture (circa 5000 BC), people used bone items as tools. After noticing the bones’ natural beauty, they started to use bone for decorative purposes as well as utensils.

The bone artwork featured excellent craftsmanship and was exquisitely designed. Inlay, lay-on or a combination of these techniques can be used to create a beautiful effect in level. This makes the bone to transcend the wooden base.

This traditional craft has been further developed in modern times and is traditionally used in fine furniture. Today bone is also applied for interior decoration of modern hotels and high-end residences. For this technique generally buffalo or camel bone is used.

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Petrified Wood

Petrified wood

Fossils are incredibly interesting and, in a way, contain lots of information about an era in a certain region. Petrified wood literally witnessed a piece of history. Keeping in mind just that makes it legitimate to say petrified wood is a material that contains lots of soul.

Petrified wood is pure nature in it’s most ultimate form: fossilized remains of earthly vegetation. In most cases it’s millions of years old. Nowadays scientists are able to significantly speed up the process. Our products however, are the result of millions of years of earthly developments.

The process of turning wood into stone is called permineralization. This means that all organic materials are being replaced by minerals (mostly a silicate, like quartz) while keeping the original structure of the wood.

Petrified wood can only come into existence with a lot of patience. The petrifiction of wood is an underground process in which wood is buried under sediment and is initially preserved due to a lack of oxygen, which inhibits aerobic decomposition. Groundwater drips through for a long period of time and deposits minerals in the plants cells. As the plants lignin (a complex polymer of aromatic alcohols and an integral part of the secondary cell walls of plants) and cellulose breakdown, a stone mould forms in it’s place.

Petrified wood is a unique member of the ‘fossil family’. Unlike other types of fossils petrified wood remains a three-dimensional representation of the original. In other words: petrified trees still look like the original tree. Other fossils are more or less impressions or compressions.

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Casting

Metal casting

Metal casting is the result of a molecular process full of contradictions. Created by one of the strongest and most destructive elements on earth: fire. Melting and mixing copper, brass and lead by the use of the disastrous force of fire, allows our craftsmen to mould incredible shapes and forms: decorative jewels.

Metal casting is an ancient craft that origins around approximately 3600 BC. At least that’s the age of the oldest casting in existence, found in Mesopotamia.

In a nutshell, the process of casting begins with the preparation of a mixture of pure beeswax, resin from a tree and groundnut oil. Using a spatula, knife and scarper, this substance is fashioned into the pattern. The surface of this model is coated with layers of various clays to form a completed mould.

An alloy of copper, brass and lead is made. The lead grants malleability, thus facilitating the chiselling and engraving of the pattern. Brass is added to the copper to lower the melting point of the alloy and to add an enduring lustre to the finished product.

This molten alloy is carefully poured into a previously heated mould; once cooled, the mould is broken and the details of the pattern are engraved. The metal surface is smoothed with fine-grade emery paper and finally the piece is brushed with polishing sand and water.

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Horn

Horn

Horn is one of those typical symbols of power and strength. Cattle depend on horn for self-defence against natural enemies or to make clear who has the right to mate. But there’s more than meets the eye. Who looks beyond what maybe the obvious, discovers incredible textures, which can be used for the decoration of a variety of products. Horn is unadulterated beauty provided by mother Nature.

Our collection is made of horns coming from African cattle and domesticated Vietnamese water buffalos. The artisans working with horn are true specialists in creating and working with this material.

Horn is a material is very difficult to process; it’s incredibly strong and hard. This makes it sound obvious that many years of experience and a high level of skills are key ingredients for our craftsmen. Required to create exquisite and incredibly beautiful products, our artisans rely on knowledge passed by their ancestors. They represent over 400 years of tradition, but to reach the status of ‘skilled artisan’ they must work hard to reach this goal.

Horn has been used as human adornment and jewellery for centuries. A wide variety of products, such as table tops, cutlery, side plates and other dishes, lamps, bathroom accessories, tools, blades, combs, buttons and jewellery is known.

To summarize, horn products are very durable, strong, exclusive and incredibly beautiful. The hands of a talented and skillful artisan, which literally give our products a personal touch, have processed each and every inch of horn you’ll find in our collection.

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Silverleaf

Silverleaf

Silver and great achievements are inextricably linked. Gold symbolizes coming in first while silver often holds the maybe even more interesting dramatic euphoria of being second best. It’s clear that mankind always has had special interest in the gleaming jewels of nature. Talks about precious metals, like silver, always raise the antennae.

The art of applying silverleaf to decorative objects, including lacquerware, is known as gilding. ‘silver beating’ is the term for the process of pounding silver into leaves. Nowadays the process of producing silverleaf is largely mechanized but the gilding itself, is done by artisans who realize ‘precious achievements’ on a daily base.

It’s a delicate process. First the surface is primed. Next it’s sized. Individual leaves are laid onto the surface using a gilders tip. This is a fine camel hairbrush set in a thin cardboard folder. The leaf is held to the tip by static electricity generated by gently rubbing the tip against the gilders hair. The slightest breath can send the leaf flying. Once the gilding is complete the leaf-covered surface is burnished to a high lustre using surgical grade cotton.

Wood moulds are the preferred cores for lacquerware, though wickerwork, leather and textile can also be used. The imparted shape bespeaks it’s utility implement, vessel, furniture etc. It’s ornamentation is unique to the creator. Decorative motifs are drawn and transferred by hand on to the receptacle. These are inlaid with silverleaf, Mother of pearl, seashell, and fine powder pigments, according to the specifications of the design. Silver plating is ideally suited to create objects in special colour nuances.

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Glassblowing

Glassblowing

The art of glass blowing looks as easy as blowing soap bubbles. Gifted artisans master the principle of transporting an exact amount of breath through a thin blowpipe in order to create crystal clear and gracious works of art. But as always, things aren’t as easy as they seem. Especially when it comes to the craft of transforming 1130 °C liquid glass into perfect shapes.

Glassblowing is a glass forming technique that involves inflating molten glass into a bubble, with the aid of a blowpipe. A person who blows glass is called a glassblower, glass smith or gaffer. A lamp worker manipulates glass with the use of a torch on a smaller scale, such as in producing precision laboratory glassware out of borosilicate glass.

Glassblowing has been practiced for approximately 5500 years, which makes it one of the oldest crafts we know of. In Mesopotamia archaeologists found pieces of glass that date back to 3500 BC. The well-known blowpipe is a Syrian invention. Around the start of calendar they first succeeded to create a

liquid mass out of sand, chalk and sodium carbonate. The blowpipe was used to craft the desired shapes. The Syrians developed the art of glassblowing and took it to the highest level. Since that time not much has changed.

 

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Semi Precious Stone

Semi precious stone

Gemstones have always been desirable objects for both their energy and beauty. According to some it’s the gem that connects the chain, referring to silver or golden necklaces designed around a gorgeous glistening semi precious stone. No matter your taste, there’s a stone for everyone.

Semi precious stone, or gemstone, is a cut and polished piece of mineral, which is used to make jewellery or other adornments. Besides jewellery, engraved stones and hardstone carvings are major luxury art forms.

Most semi precious stones are hard. Nevertheless some soft minerals are used in jewellery because of their lustre or other physical properties that have a certain aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a stone. Grinding wheels and polishing agents are used to grind, shape and polish rough stones into the desired smooth dome shape.

Stones, which are transparent, are normally faceted; a method that shows the optical properties of the stones interior to its best advantage. Maximizing the reflected light, which is perceived by the viewer as a sparkle, does this.

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Metal Hammering

Metal Hammering

To some the sound of metal being hit sounds meditative. To others it’s an awful noise they can hardly withstand. What’s for sure is that the art of metal hammering has played a great role in both Indian culture and history. The Indians have known the art of hammering metals for nearly 5000 years. This craft tradition withstood the ravages of time and numerous foreign invasions and continues to flourish.

The craft of hammering metals in India revolved around religious beliefs and needs of patrons, royalty and common people. Foreign and domestic trade also influenced it. The first blacksmiths were seen as visionaries who could craft beautifully shaped and useful objects out of very inflexible materials. Because of their skills and talents for working with metals, ancient civilizations gave the master workers predominance over those who lacked these skills. The earliest examples of Indian crafts were found in the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization (approximately 3000 to 1700 BC).

Originally metal was derived from meteorites, which were also considered sacred. For that reason only special objects were made from it. Later it was discovered that metals could be found below the earth’s surface.

Traditionally, Indian craftsmen used different kinds of metal like iron, copper, silver and alloys such as bronze, bell metal and white metal to produce hammered items. Typical items are pots, pans, utensils, photo frames, sculptures of deities, mythological figures and animals. In the field of metal work a variety of styles are seen in different parts of India.

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Lacquer

Lacquer

The grace of nature and incredible works of craftsmanship often need to be conserved. Not keeping decorative items in good shape, by applying a lacquer finish, would simply be a waste of effort by artisans, money from our customers and dramatically decrease lifespan. And sometimes it’s the ultimate finish, required to reach heavenly results.

The raw material of the lacquer is resin from Thitsi trees. These trees must be at least 10 years old before cutting to bleed the resin. It sets by a process called ‘aqua polymerization’, absorbing oxygen to set; placing in a humid environment allows it to absorb more oxygen from the evaporation of the water. Raw Lacquer can be ‘coloured’ by the addition of small amounts of iron oxides, giving a red or black tint, depending on the oxide. Additionally, pigments can be added to make other colours.

Lacquer is applied to seal and protect the object and then decoration like Mother of Pearl or Eggshell is added. Generally, three coats (undercoat, middle-coat, and final coat) are used. Sometimes lacquer is carved. The term ‘lacquerware’ covers a variety of techniques used to decorate wood, metal or other surfaces.

The art of lacquer ornamentation has been practiced for several millennia. It’s said to have originated in China around the second half of the second millennium BC, when it was first used for writing on bamboo slips. During the Shang Dynasty (circa 1600 to 1046 BC) sophisticated techniques in the lacquer process were first developed. Through the ages that followed, the craft of lacquering and creating lacquerware evolved into an art of the highest standard thinkable.

Lacquer was applied to various decorative items, utensils and even architecture. By the 15th century lacquerware, decorated and enriched with silver and gold inlays, had
assumed a royal status in the Chinese Imperial household. The people
followed suit. Lacquerwork became a fashion and conquered large parts of the globe.

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Selenite Stone

Selenite stone

From respected ancient cultures to modern society it’s believed, and sometimes even proven, that the moon has great effect on life on earth. Think about the change from low to high tide for example. Keeping that in mind it’s not a big surprise that the ancient Greek named Selenite stone after the reflecting friend, high up in the sky.

Selenite, which means moonstone, is a transparent crystal (mineral) of which the old Greek believed it waxed and waned with the moon, like the tide. This had a lot to do with the moonlight effect from cleavage surfaces. Selenite is a variety of Gypsum that occurs in transparent crystals or crystalline masses.

There are four crystalline varieties of mineral gypsum that branch together to form selenite. Selenite is often colourless with a vitreous or pearly lustre. They are found as pure white, translucent rock, with defined striations.

Before extraction from the mines, selenite is very warm because the thermal hot water temperature is approximately 50°C (122°F). Amazingly, once extracted from the mines, it’s very cool to touch and has a luminescent lunar quality.

Selenite crystals are one of the more powerful healing stones. The vibration of Selenite is very high but also very calming so it’s excellent for clarity, understanding and concentration, as well as keeping specific areas of a room clear of unwanted energy. It can also be used to form a protection grid in the home in order to literally turn your house into a safe place. Selenite itself doesn’t need to be cleaned.

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Woodcraving

Woodcarving

Off all crafts mankind has ever mastered, woodworking can be seen as one of the most pure, honest and essential: the elegance of perfect irregular shapes provided by Mother Nature taken to a higher level by the craftsmanship of skilled artisans.

It’s no surprise that woodworking is one of humankind’s oldest skills. It is even older than originally speculated. In 2001, Spanish archaeologists, digging in the desert sands of Tanzania, recovered flint tools worn to an extent that could only result from heavy-duty activity, namely: woodcarving. These findings date back to 3000 BC.

What may be a surprise is that most common wood furniture-making techniques and tools used today date from that period, including carving, the dowel, mortise and tenon joints; the adze, chisel, saw, awl, and bow drill. Other techniques, such as the dovetail joint, halving joints and shoulder miters, were introduced a 1000 years later, around 2000 BC.

Our craftsmen prefer the use of Acacia wood; a light hardwood favoured for its fine grain and natural flame like design or surface pattern. Because it takes a high polish it is often used for ornamental purposes. The Acacia, also known as a thorn tree or wattle, is a fast growing tree that flourishes even in poor soil.

But, great results can only be achieved thanks to the dedication of skilled and talented artisans. They anticipate such variations and justly account for them in order to maximize the strength and utility of the finished product. Wood is a gorgeous, highly versatile material, lending itself to all kinds of treatments but it is definitely the craftsman that brings the best out of a piece of timber.

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Fine Iron

Fine Iron

Wirework, or tinkery, is a unique concept of solid and relatively cheap materials being transformed into gracious and sometimes complex eyecatchers. This form of craftsmanship, which turns expressionless iron wire into elegant pieces of fine art, is part of

Slovak folk and dates back to the late 17th century. The craft originated among people living in the infertile mountainous area of the country’s northwest region. As with any folk art, tinkery originally is a utilitarian enterprise.

Tinkers travelled the countryside repairing earthenware by embedding it with handcrafted wire nets. Soon they started producing household utensils and rudimentary farm tools. Hammered, drawn, coiled, pulled and cut, these unique handcrafted wirework objects were not only functional but also aesthetically beautiful.

A local phenomenon, born of economic necessity, spread throughout Western Europe to Northern Africa, Asia and the Americas. By the mid to late 19th century, tinkery loomed large as a popular art.

As happened to many forms of craftsmanship, industrialization temporarily overshadowed interest. By the mid-20th century wirework was considered a thing of the past. Luckily views changed. Today there’s a strong market for fine iron wirework. While the wire is no longer hand drawn, the work itself is entirely carried out by hand.  Each piece bears the signature of the steady hand and eye that formed it. True craftsmanship.

A skilled and experienced tinker can craft what can be imagined. Baskets, bottle racks, serving dishes, plant stands, trivets, tables, fixtures, lamps, large, small, ornate, austere. The tinker manipulates the pliant material, turning, twisting, and weaving the flexible strands into a firmly fixed form. The process is slow and exacting. The result: material form unlike any other.

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