We look forward to sharing our remodeled online store with you in May 2014. Below is a preview of our new homepage. Our Berkeley store remains open for visits!
Questions? Please contact us.
We took off from the airport in our 6 seater plane and got a great view of Wewak. It is the capital of the province on the north coast of Papua New Guinea and has a hospital, schools and a port for the region. There was a local fishing fleet as well as large fish factories from China out in the ocean.
Our flight took about an hour and gave us good views of the land that we would be traveling by boat for the next eight days. The Sepik River with all its twists and turns and oxbow lakes was a dominant part of the landscape. It was the end of the dry season but there was enough rain for the land to stay green. The river was at a low level which made travel easier going upstream. .
We met Lesley, our friend and guide, in Wewak and after dinner and catching up on PNG friends we actually had a bed to sleep in. The next morning we were out early at the airport and after weighing in, both our luggage and ourselves, we met our missionary pilot who flew a six seater small plane that could land on small grass runways. He was pleasant and competent like all missionary pilots that we have encountered.
The West Berkeley Design Loop is a group of independent merchants in the southwest quadrant of Berkeley who focus on home improvement design. Friday night from 5 to 7pm the Design Loop is doing a group event focusing on local artists in the area. Twelve different stores will have local artists working in their medium. Vanessa Mellet, whose striking jewelry has long been an essential part of Ethnic Arts will be in the store with her new collection. She will be working on setting rings, finishing earrings and doing the intricate wire wrap of her chains. It is a great time to see her work and talk to her.
The Laos trip began after we left Bangkok with all of the traffic and noise to find the tropical quiet of Luang Prabang. It was first light and the monks were processing down the main street in front of our hotel receiving alms. This is the only food they eat so they are dependent on the sticky rice and other food offered by the kneeling people. Buddhism is an important part of life here with golden orange clad monks in the streets and wats (Buddhist temples) throughout the city.
Boys are expected to spend time in the monasteries, generally during their adolescence and often for several years. Formative years spent in meditation may explain the mellow character of Laotians. Our guide, upon witnessing a tourist’s rant over not having a taxi on time said, “Oh, she is too hot inside. Her balance is all wrong.” He had just spent a week in the monastery meditating after his grandmother’s death.
There is one old intricate silk Suzani that is striking in its harmonious use of color. The floral design fills the space with orange, rust, blue and yellow chain stitch embroidery on a background of black silk. It comes from Uzbekistan, the center of the Turkmen textile tradition. Embroidered Suzanis like this piece and others in the store were an important part of a bride’s dowry. They were then used as decoration in the home.
When Sarah Durling, the antique button jewelry artist, comes back from Northern England we celebrate her return with a trunk show of her new collection of bracelets, earrings, and pendants. This Friday afternoon from 4 to 8 at night we will oh and ah over her new pieces, drink some wine and nibble a bit. Come meet Sarah and hear button stories of discovering buttons and playing with combinations.
The buttons in this bracelet and earrings are porcelain calico from 1880-1920. England and France fought over the copyright of the technique and then America slipped in and produced them for a short time. These buttons are collectable because there was such a limited production.
We have been looking at the extensive collection of textiles at Ethnic Arts and decided to focus on one textile a week and write about its’ beauty and use. Since we changed out our big wall with African textiles we have been seeing African textiles with new eyes. Our first choice for Textile Pick of the moment is a beautiful Yoruba Asoke cloth. It is in natural colors of grey with a narrow band of rich brown. The striking thing about this cloth is the three dimensional quality with an ivory inlay float running from the holes woven into the fabric. The inlay float threads, holes and vertical striping are distinctive features of Yoruba weaving. These cloths are woven by the men in narrow strips and then sewn together to create a cloth of the desired size. Both men and women wear these for ritual occasions.
Our geranium and lavender filled blue flower boxes reflect the color and vibrancy inside the store. Most days there is a David Marsh round table and a couple chairs with the flower boxes to give people a comfortable place to sit outside. Come and sit outside on our warm summer days before wandering through the store.
We come in at first light to wait for the trucker bringing the newest shipment of David Marsh furniture. After three months of talking with David, sending special orders, and thinking of what is missing in the store we eagerly anticipate this shipment. David Marsh arrival date has elements of those long ago pleasurable waits for holidays.
These David holidays come randomly around four times a year and are always dependent on the vagaries of the trucking companies.
At last we start to unwrap the pieces from the shipping blankets and are rewarded with new and creative work from David and his craftspeople. His small reclaimed metal base tables are a delight and those always are a surprise to us since he works with what he finds in his wanderings. Check these out on the web site which has just become more functional.