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#MakersMonth: Bright Wovens

You may have noticed already, but bright colors are kind of our thing. Okay…they’re totally our thing, and we just can’t get enough of the deep vibrant hues and electric shades of the woven baskets, platters, and catchalls that have become staples of our home décor line. But, you may be wondering: how do our artisan partners ensure that the colors come out bright, evenly and richly saturated {and the same!} every time? And how do they hand-weave these intricate beauties in the first place? Keep reading for an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look into the handmade process behind our woven home décor collections!

Our woven products are made by hand out of locally sourced natural fibers: sweetgrass {inshinge in Kinyarwanda}, the straw-like material that forms the base of our baskets, and sisal {imigwegwe}, the soft and stringy fibers of agave plants which are dyed and wrapped around sweetgrass to create the complete and colorful Indego look. 

We partner with five different weaving cooperatives in Rwanda – Imirasire, Covanya, Ibanga, Korebu, and Ingobokaruga – and while each has its own special, secret way of getting the colors just right, there are some general steps they all follow. For starters, the artisans put a big pot of water over firewood and then add salt, oil, and dye, carefully altering quantities depending on the desired hue of their final product.

Once the mixture seems ready, they dip in a small piece of imigwegwe to check for color and make adjustments before pouring in the whole batch. They then stir the sisal with a wooden stick until all the fiber is saturated with dye and ready to be taken out for drying.

Within this process, there is lots of room for improvisation, artistry, and personal touches that make each cooperative’s dyeing process unique (like adjusting water temperatures, dye quantities, and soaking durations.) At the end, however, there’s just one final result: vibrant, well-dyed and consistently-colored fibers that make for beautiful and eye-catching home décor (and jewelry!) pieces.

Once the imigwegwe is dry, the artisans thread a couple of strands through a weaving needle and begin to wrap them around bunches of sweetgrass, molding and adjusting the grass as they go to create the desired shape of our products — a process which often takes 2-3 days {or more} per item! The end results are worth it, though: thick coiled baskets and platters that beautifully blend traditional African crafts with modern pops of color and pattern – from  hot pink swirls, to black and white geometric designs, ruby red diamonds, and more.

So there you have it – the inside scoop on how our products are hand-woven with skill, patience, artistry {and love!} in Rwanda. Pretty cool, right? We certainly think so!

To shop our home décor collections (and to brighten your day - guaranteed!), click here

This post is part of our #MakersMonth — a July-long campaign celebrating the incredible artistry and skill of the master-makers who handcraft our products!  To learn more, click here