United in Craft - The Making of The Utopia Collection
Models @astar.jpegs (L) and @kioksianto with UPINDE tote and JUA bucket Bag
One week on from launching our new luxe summer bag collection and we have been blown away by the response to these beautiful bags. So much so that UPINDE, that fabulous rainbow tote, has just sold out! What is so wonderful about this is that we can now look into placing a second order with the weavers, brazier and leatherworkers to produce another small batch of this popular design. Stay tuned!
Last week we talked about the concepts behind The Utopia Collection - hope, unity and celebration - so this week it feels like time to tell some of the story behind the bags’ production. Basket weaving is naturally the craft that we talk about most at The Basket Room, but leatherwork is another traditional craft we champion, as well as brass work and embroidery.
We have introduced you to the leatherworkers we partner with before; led by the inspirational Isabell. These leatherworkers are the last artisans to finish all our woven bags before they are counted, checked for quality control and packed into the container bound for our HQ in Chipping Norton, UK. It is here that our small leather tabs are cut, embossed with our logo and stitched into our baskets, and where all leather straps and trims are made, cut and attached to our bags.
Details, details... WINGU Mono Checkerboard Stripe Crossbody Bag £75
Anna, Camilla and Isabell show off the bag prototypes in Nairobi
Ruben would create a ‘source model’ of each piece of bag brassware, encase it in the mould and then break the mould in two to free the source model – leaving a cavity in the exact shape of the piece he would then be producing multiple copies of for the bags.
D-rings in construction. The pole on the end (formed when the molten brass was piped into the mould) will be filed away.
The brazier then fixes the two pieces of the mould back together and leaves a small hole to pour the molten metal into, before piping the liquid brass into the heart of the mould and firing the mould over a high heat. Finally, the mould is broken open and each new piece of brassware is filed to precision on a mechanical wheel.
Handcrafted D-rings in beautiful, recycled brass
Confused by all the buckles and beads? Let us talk you through the brassware on one of the bags in the collection. The JUA rainbow bucket bag features recycled brass dog clips (for detaching the braided leather hand strap), D-rings (which the dog clips clip onto) and decorative brass beadwork. Its removable shoulder strap (not pictured) also boasts a handmade recycled brass buckle.
Let us not forget to mention embroidery, too. Every pair of inquisitive eyes on every MOTO tote and HEWA bucket bag was hand stitched by the talented Naironi-based artist Nduta Karikuri, with whom we have worked with for several years now. She is the sole artist who embroidered our first collections of embroidered motif baskets, and the Anthropologie collab face baskets which we now sell online.
MOTO Eyes Tote, £79, with adjustable, handcrafted leather shoulder straps and all recycled brassware as seen with @girlwithbellsandwhistles