Wednesday 23 December 2009

Saturday 19 December 2009


We are back from our visit to various European Xmas markets and able to process orders as per usual. We apologise for our week's absence and hope it hasn't caused any inconvenience.
The first Market we visited was in Arhus (Denmark) followed by Hamburg and then Amsterdam. Hamburg's Christmas market was by far the largest and most interesting. The market place in front of the old town hall was filled with elaborate stalls selling a wide range of crafts, traditional German food and hot wine. 

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Winter Vacation 14th Dec. to 18th Dec.

Just to let you know that we will be unable to process any orders made between the 14th of December and the 18th of December. We will be out of the UK for that week as we are visiting Christmas markets in Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused and appreciate your understanding.

natural clothing, bags, and so on...

Monday 7 December 2009


Over the weekend we visited several craft fairs within the London area with a view to weekend trading from March/April 2010. The particular craft fairs that interest us are Greenwich, Old Spitalfields and Covent Garden's Jubilee Market. Nothing has been decided yet and we will confirm our plans nearer the time. We look forward to having a presence on a fairly regular level, as well as the occasional music festival during the summer season.

Friday 4 December 2009


A current experiment with natural dyes involves using lily pollen. I have tried with a very small quantity of pollen used to colour hemp wool. The final colour was indeed a bright yellow, but the colour was fairly uneven. I am not sure if this uneven colour was the result of not using enough pollen for the amount of hemp wool or just the nature of this dyestuff. I will experiment again in the near future with a larger amount of pollen. Collecting the pollen from lilies is rather time consuming so I imagine the next experiment will also be on either a small garment (i.e. silk shawl) or hemp wool.

Monday 23 November 2009


During the course of the next few days, we will have uploaded our complete selection of crafted glass pendants and hand carved bone pendants.

As you will have read from the previous blog entry, the glass pendants are from Masaya Kuribayashi at GREEN GLASS TOKYO. Just a few of his pieces have already been uploaded and I will continue to upload a few each day, so do please check back from time to time if you are particularly interested in his work.

A small selection of hand carved pendants, made from water buffalo bone, have already been uploaded. These stylized fish hooks and arrowheads have all been attached to either hemp or rayon (sometimes both). I am working with a few types of hemp thread and also experimenting with natural dyes on these threads. So far, just indigo dyed thread has been used in any of the completed pendants.

Tuesday 3 November 2009


Green Glass Tokyo is the name under which Masaya Kuribayashi designs and creates intricate glass pendants and beads. A recent visit to his workshop showed us how he crafts such delicate patterns and shapes from hot coloured glass. It was amazing to watch a skilled craftsman make such a difficult set of procedures look so easy.

A selection of Masaya's work is on show and available for retail at under the product catagory of Tokyo Craft.

Saturday 31 October 2009

Sorazora Online Store

After one month's absence, our online store has re-opened and we are now able to manage orders as per usual. We apologise for closing the store throughout October and highly appreciate your patience and understanding.
Our one month in Japan was a busy period for us as we continue to work on our sister company over there as well as here in the UK. The Japanese festival season runs through October as their winter tends to arrive a little later than ours. Typhoons aside, October remains quite sunny with many clear bright days and fairly cool evenings.

We look forward to your continued support and will be slowly uploading some of our new winter items over the next few days.

Monday 19 October 2009


KAMANDO is a fairly new market held in Kamakura and organised by our good friend Shinji-san. 18th October was the second time for this gathering of over 200 stalls. The weather was perfect, although a little windy on the coast.

Quite a few of our friends made it to Kamakura to set up shop creating a relaxing, yet busy day. Setting up on hard standing without decent weights made for a few scares with the wind picking up in the afternoon. One stall was lifted up by a gust and Makoto's hanging rail with 10 djembes came crashing to the ground! Fortunately no injury was caused to anyone and all of the djembe were saved from damage.

You can see from the following photo that we have removed the roof from the stall, this was because it was acting as a large sail in the sea breeze. KAMANDO is held twice a year, Summer and Autumn, and is worth visiting for anyone who happens to be in Japan during those seasons.

Friday 16 October 2009


After the Country Festival in Kita-Karuizawa on the Sunday, we had a long drive back down to Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture to open our stall on the Monday at the Keihin Rock Festival. It was the first time in over a year for us to setup stall amoungst familiar stallholder faces within the Japanese festival scene. The weather was considerably warmer than that of the previous day's event up in the mountains and not a single line dancer was in site.

The usual japanese style food stalls were there to give us a taste of what we had been missing. The music lineup was made up of former members of famous Japanese bands from the 70's and 80's who are either solo or have since formed new bands. This drew in crowds of a slightly more mature age.

The 6th Country Festival

Sunday 11th October saw the 6th Country Festival held at Sweetgrass camp site in Kita-Karuizawa. Sweetgrass is one of the top three most popular campsites in Japan. This festival had a very strong country music theme to it which was new for us. Sweetgrass sits in the shadow of volcano Asama, which is constantly on a 24 hour watch as it smoulders away.

The following photo will show you what most of the crowd were wearing. The young lady in the middle was a member of the Tokyo Cowgirls who came up to Kita-Karuizawa to put on a show. The other (not so young) ladies helped make up the line dancers.

Another aspect of this festival that was new to me was having a couple of children assigned to each stall as helpers. Of course, with child labour rules in mind, we let them choose what they wanted to do (not that we had much for them to help us with).


Being back in Japan to open our stall at a few events has been a bit of a logistical challenge regarding the shop's setup. The last typhoon to pass over the Kanto area of Japan was perfectly timed for us, leaving a vast selection of driftwood scattered along the beaches of Chigasaki.

After we had collected all that the five of us could carry back to the van, we set about making the shelves and tables we needed. The natural look of the driftwood blends well with the shop and doesn't need yards of fabric as a tablecloth. Once the four events are over, these pieces of driftwood furniture will become permanent features of Makoto-chan's garden.

Monday 28 September 2009

Autumn Break 29 Sept - 31 Oct

Just to let you all know that we will be unable to process any orders made between the 29th of September and the 31st of October. We will be attending three festivals in Japan. I will endeavour to upload photos and information regarding those festivals and share our experiences.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused and appreciate your understanding.
On our return we will re-open the store and start uploading winter items.

Tuesday 22 September 2009


This year was our first experience of OOTO Festival. The weather was perfect and we didn't see any rain from the moment we arrived 2:00pm Thursday until we left site Monday afternoon.
It was the most relaxing festival we have been to in the UK and one that we hope to attend next year. I am not sure how many people came, but reports ranged between 1500 to 2000 people. The site could have easily held double that number, but the eco-toilets would have shown signs of strain.

It was a good opportunity to meet some familiar faces and also get to know many new faces. Nobu and his crew of Takoyaki and Yakisoba master chefs were a welcome site for us as we haven't had the opportunity to taste traditional Japanese Yakisoba (fried noodles) for quite some time. We hope to meet them again soon.

Our neighbour, Mark, was an expert on wood carving and a great help for anyone who needs practical advice on which woods suit which jobs. He certainly inspired me to use wood a little more for creative projects. The neighbours to our other side (sorry no photograph!) were three ladies who knew how to make a cake. They had so many flavoured cakes ranging from the traditional to more unusual (i.e. Chilli Chocolate Sponge and Chocolate & Aubergine Sponge!)
I think it is safe to say that all who attended the event had a great time and were well entertained by the interesting range of activities on offer. Hope to see you all there next year.

Tuesday 15 September 2009


Out Of The Ordinary Festival will be held this coming weekend at Knockhatch Farm, about 15 miles from Brighton. To view the festivals website for further information, click HERE.

It will be 3 days of family entertainment with a truely eco-friendly theme. All power required for the festival will be either wind, solar or pure plant oil powered. I hope the solar power will be more relied on than the wind. Even the compost toilets have the benefit of using no water or chemicals and a strict zero waste policy will be in force. This festival looks to be one that is attended by like minded festival customers, unlike other events where claims of eco-friendly are made (but this reflects on the organisers and not the punters!)

As a natural fibre, natural dyed clothing and accessories shop, Sorazora is looking forward to this one!

Monday 14 September 2009

Mayor's Thames Festival

The Thames Festival drew to a close at 10pm Sunday 13th after an impressive firework display on the river. It was a long weekend for us as we had a very early start on the Saturday morning to get ready and a late finish on the Sunday. The location was different from any other we had experienced, not only was the London Eye within a stones throw, but also a nice view of Big Ben (Westminster Clock Tower) was a nice touch.

We met many interesting people from various countries and made some new friends within the traders' community. We would like to say a special thank you to Deniz, a customer who kindly agreed to having her photo taken for this blog, pictured below.

Two more new friends who must have a mention are the illustrators Kazuko Morishita (Japan) and Elli Chortara (Greece). They also opened a stall at the festival and each have their own websites. We wish them all the best and hope to see them at another festival in the future.

On a final note, If any of our customers who visited us at the Thames Festival have been unable to find certain items online, please do contact us and let us know. The majority of what we display at festivals is a permanent part of our online store, but there will always be a few items (particularly one-off items) that have not been uploaded.

Wednesday 9 September 2009


Just to let you know that our stall can be found on the Jubilee Lawn in front of The London Eye for this year's Thames Festival. We will both be there all weekend and look forward to opening our stall at such a central London location. Let's hope the weather stays nice for all involved in the festival and those who come to make this one of London's largest events.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Fenn Creek Chillis

Thanks to my friends, Paul and Nick, I had a chance to see their chilli products at the first Chilli Fiesta & Chilli Cook Off held at The Chilli Company in Suffolk on Sat 5th & Sun 6th September.
Not only was this the first event of its kind to be held at the Suffolk chilli farm it was also the first time for the "Naga" boys at Fenn Creek Chillis to sell there wears.
Paul & Nick had a great success, not only in selling chilli plants, but also in tricking me into eating a Trinidad Scorpion chilli.


Batik is something that we are very new to doing at Sorazora.
The name batik comes from the method (originally used in Java) of producing coloured designs on textiles by dyeing them, having first applied wax to the parts to be left undyed. This process can also be refered to as wax-resist dyeing.

I have been using only beeswax whereas many use a blend of beeswax and paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is fairly brittle and produces a lot of crackle. This crackle, either intentional or not, can be reduced by adding the much softer and more pliable beeswax.

There are a few methods for removing the wax after the dyeing process. Because of the nature of natural dyes, I avoid using hot water. I have been ironing out the wax. This is a traditional method of wax removal. The fabric is sandwiched between layers of absorbent paper and the heat is applied by iron to melt out the wax. It is difficult to remove 100% of the wax out and a residue is left behind.

I have found that the best results using natural dyes for batik are the dyes that can be used in a cold/warm dyebath. A hot dyebath would melt the wax on contact.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...


Our continuous search for new colours has resulted in three new shades, each made of blends using indigo. Blackberry soon became a favourite as it is a relatively strong colour and fairly similar to that of "Lac". Lac is a resin that is secreted by an insect (Laccifer Lacca) on the branches of ficus trees in India and surrounding parts of Asia. Blackberry is a bluer purple, which can be obtained from lac if it is over-dyed with indigo. Instead of over-dying, we mixed blackberry and indigo directly in the dyebath to produce a much darker shade than is possible by blackberry alone. The result can be seen in the photo below.

We have been producing light pink from "Majito" (madder root). A very weak solution of this dyestuff was added to a tiny amount of indigo, this resulted in a very soft shade somewhere between beige and kharki.

"Harro" (chebulic myrobolon) is a fruit that we use for yellow / yellow-kharki. The addition of a pinch of indigo brings out the greener side to harro. This experiment was done using left over dyebaths, so the colour pigments left in the bath were mild to say the least.

TOP: Blackberry and Indigo
MIDDLE: Madder Root and Indigo
BOTTOM: Chebulic Myrobolon and Indigo

Our current range of silk shawls are available at our stall at festivals and events. The online collection is limited to just five colours at present as we have those colours dyed in quantity and hold stock. The expanding range of experimental colours sees just a couple of silk shawls for most of the colours and shades. Due to the dyeing facilities available to us outside of our Nepal dying houses, we can only dye a few shawls at a time. With natural dyes, the only way to produce the same colour on different garments is to dye them at the same time. The fact that the dyebath gets weaker after each dyeing allows us to produces different tones of the same colour, but in smaller quantity.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...

Wednesday 26 August 2009


One of the latest dyestuffs for us to try out was blackberry. Until recently, our knowledge and experience of natural dyeing was basically limited to plants and fruits native to Nepal. This time we only had to travel as far as 100 metres to collect the wild blackberries needed for our dyebath.

Compared to all over dyestuffs, blackberry was by far the most pleasant to work with. This is largely down to the fine sweet fruity smell. Boiling up nettles or some of the Nepali woods produces a strong odour that, although not foul, isn't exactly kind on the senses.

Maybe we collected and boiled too many blackberries or maybe the natural colouring is very strong, either way we managed to produce some strong colours on a few garments before the dyebath lost its power. As per usual, we used alum as a mordant and went through the normal procedures for making the dye. One note of interest is the change of colour that takes place between the fabric being removed from the pan and it having been thoroughly rinsed and ready to dry. The photographs should illustrate this change, which I believe to be caused by oxidisation. I will have to do a little reading up in order to confirm the cause of this colour change. I have experienced greens turn to blues during woad dyeing, which is definitely the result of oxygen reacting with the indigo pigment.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...

Tuesday 25 August 2009


We had long known that nettles can be used for natural dyeing to produce soft shades of yellow, but we had never tried it... until now!
Our target was, as usual, silk shawls. The silk shawls were mordanted with alum in the usual way (although cream of tartar was also added for the first shawl.)
From the photos you will see the process from start to the finished shawls. I have to admit that this was probably the first natural dyestuff that didn't smell so nice when boiling away in the large pan. Blackberries will win the award for sweetest smelling dyestuff!
I selected nettle leaves and stalks as it was easier than picking just the leaves. I am not so sure of what, if any, differences there would have been if we had selected just the leaves.
The resulting colour was not as pleasing as I had expected, but it certainly offers us range of soft tones. There really isn't much else to report as I believe the photos will explain far more details of our experiment.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...

Tuesday 18 August 2009


The 16th August saw the annual LONDON MELA held at Gunnersbury Park in Ealing.
It is a celebration of South Asian culture with different stages showcasing contemporary, classical and new music. Many of the food and craft stalls were of a South Asian theme, but amongst the crowd, a broader mix of international customers were to be found on this sunny Sunday.
This was a free event within walking distance for many, so it was very much a family affair.

Monday 17 August 2009


Dyeing with red cabbage produced a pleasing result. I found that blending the cabbage up in a mixer made it a lot easier to extract the pigment "anthocyanin" from its leaves.

This vegetable's natural colouring is used for food dyes, so I was expecting a strong colour on silk.

The changes in colour at the various stages was quite interesting.
The blended cabbage had been boiled, left to soak overnight then boiled two more times. This left the cabbage a pale blue with the dyebath a strong lilac.

It is best not to expose silk to high temperatures, so the mordanted silk shawls were lowered into a cool dyebath. Making sure they had plenty of room to move freely whilst totally submerged, It started to gently heat the dye bath.

I continued heating until I had reached the desired depth of colour and then rinsed the shawls in a solution of water and "ritha" also known as soapnut. Once dry, a second rinse was done just to make sure that all excess colour had been removed.

The silk shawls had been mordanted in alum some weeks earlier, so it was also interesting to discover that it causes no harm to have a lengthy period of time between mordanting and dyeing.

It is with this dyestuff that I wish to try BATIK on a 55% hemp 45% organic cotton material. I think this dye is strong enough to give cotton a smooth colour, (especially if dyestuff quantity is doubled!)

Natural clothing, bags and so on...