Saturday 30 April 2011

Pendants: Betel Nut & Horn

Today's product uploads are these four pendant designs crafted by Atslan.

These unique pendants has been crafted from Areca nuts and one from buffalo horn. The Nepalese name for Areca nuts is 'Supari' although they are often erroneously called 'Betel nut' as it is usually wrapped in betel leaves and sold as 'Paan' to be chewed as a mild stimulant. All of the pendants are complemented by an ornate and fully adjustable macrame cord.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Dyeing With Supari (betel nut)

The Nepalese name for these large seeds is 'supari' although they are often erroneously called 'betel nut'. They are usually seen after meals as a breath freshener (pictured above) and also an important ingredient in 'paan'. The botanical name for the palm that produces these nuts is 'areca catechu'.

It is with the areca nut that we conducted our most recent dyeing experiment. Pictured above is powdered areca, powdering is necessary to obtain the maximum amount of colour. I used equal weights of alum (as a mordant), powdered areca and silk to be dyed (in this case a silk shawl). As you can see from the photo below, the resulting colour is a very pale brown. As with most natural dyes, the colour should be fast as long as care is taken with washing. A neutral detergent and just warm water is perfect for keeping this natural colour.

Another great use for the areca nut is in jewellery. Below you can see the beautiful colours of the nut's woody interior. This natural pattern of cream and brown patches varies from nut to nut, but a wide range of pendants and beads can be carved out.

The photo below shows a sample of some of the completed pendants. I will upload these and other accessories I have made in the coming week or two. If you are interested in other jewellery and leather work I have created for retail within Sorazora, please click here!

Gaunts House Summer Gathering

This year will be the first year for Sorazora to join this August's Summer Gathering at Gaunts House, held from the 11th to the 14th August.

This inspiring and fun event is for all ages and will have a wide variety of workshops and a great musical line-up.

Gaunts House is home to the Richard Glyn Charitable Foundation and hosts a year round calendar of events, training courses, day conferences, workshops and private retreats - all of which are selected on the basis of their ability to provide learning, inspiration and growth.

The Summer Gathering is Gaunts House's annual get-together for all spiritually minded, ecologically motivated and creatively-living people.

Monday 25 April 2011

Lodestar 2011

This year will see the return of Sorazora at Lodestar Festival.

Lodestar is a family festival with a focus on showcasing up and coming talent. Held from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th of September in the beautiful fenlands just outside the village of Lode, this young festival is sure to go from strength to strength.

The organiser, Doug, has long dreamt of staging a festival on the land that his family have worked on for generations. Now his dream is a reality.

For more information on this festival, please visit the website for Lodestar!

Friday 22 April 2011

South Of England Show 2011

We are pleased to announce that Sorazora will be at this year's South Of England Show exhibiting within the EcoVillage.

The EcoVillage gives green and ethical organisations a distinct area to exhibit to huge audiences at big events. Being part of the  EcoVillage has enabled us to engage with a wide range of people, and educate them about our products and services - while also broadening people's awareness of the importance of building a sustainable future together.

The South Of England Show runs from Thursday 9th to Saturday 11th June. This will be our second year to join the show in Ardingly and we are very much looking forward to exhibiting to such a diverse crowd and meeting up with the very friendly and helpful staff at EcoVillage.

Larmer Tree

A festival that is new to us this year is the Larmer Tree Festival. Held at the lush Larmer Tree Gardens, near Salisbury, on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, it runs from the 13th to 17th July.
We are very excited that Sorazora will be joining this year's festival as it is a festival that we have heard many good things about.

It is a family festival that claims to be the perfect escape from it all. Tickets have sold out for the last 16 years and a quick look at what entertainment is on offer will explain why.

It will showcase over 80 diverse artists on 6 different stages, comedy club, 150 free workshops, street theatre and carnival procession. The number of festival customers is limited to an intimate crowd of 4000.

For more information on this great festival, please click here!

WOMAD 2011

We are close to the start of 2011's UK festival season, which means another WOMAD is on the horizon!

We are very pleased to announce that Sorazora will be present at this year's WOMAD, our third consecutive year.
Held in Charlton Park, which is located just outside the historic abbey town of Malmesbury in North Wiltshire. WOMAD will hold a vast array of performances starting from the evening of Thursday 28th July through to late evening on Sunday 31st July.

Not only will you find a great selection of the best world music, but also world food, workshops, site art, world market and of course, the famous human library. With plenty of room for camping, this is a truly family affair and a firm favourite within our festival season. For more information about WOMAD, please click here!

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Fair At The Joust

Our first confirmed event for the 2001 season is something very new and unusual to us at Sorazora. It is an event that we are looking forward to as it has an emphasis on crafts and skills from days gone by.

Fair At The Joust is set in the beautiful grounds of the imposing keep of Castle Hedingham in Essex. Held over Sunday 29 May and Monday 30 May, it will showcase an era of chivalry with a jousting tournament.

History will definitely come alive over the two days with demonstrations from the Norfolk Longbowmen and birds of prey flying displays.

How does Sorazora fit in with this event you may ask yourself! With production methods that have barely changed, our garments will show some of the kinds of fabric that would have been around during the days of jousting. Our entire colour range from natural dyes reflect the way dyeing was done from the very beginning to the mid 19th century. Knight's colourful fabrics would have been organically dyed using roots, barks, leaves and fruit that yield colour. It is our range of designs that brings these time honoured methods into the 21st century, where the importance is now placed on environmental issues.

For more information about this event or the many other events held at the castle, please visit their webpages through this link.

Monday 18 April 2011


Today's new product upload are these fun beanbags. They can either be used singularly as hacky sacks or in quantity as juggling balls. To view this product's page, please click

These organic crocheted beanbags are available to buy in sets of three or singularly and in a choice of natural fibres. Both Himalayan Nettle (pictured above) and Wild Nepali Hemp (pictured below) yarns have been harvested, retted and handspun by the craftspeople of remote Nepalese villages.

The natural seed filling (pictured below) gives them a firm texture and an ideal weight that would suit both advanced jugglers and beginners alike.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Natural Button Selection

Today's final new product upload are these beautiful handcrafted buttons. To view the product page, please click here!

These natural undyed buttons have been handcrafted from coconut shell, bamboo and peach stone. They are an ideal choice for natural fibre clothing. With four styles to choose from, the small coconut buttons come in a sets of 6, the medium coconut and peach stone are in sets of 5 and the bamboo buttons come in a set of four. The peach stone buttons vary in size, but average 23mm in length.

Hemp & Nettle Cordage

Today's first new product upload is an organic choice of Himalayan nettle or wild Nepali hemp cordage!

These undyed cordages have been harvested and spun by the craftspeople of Nepal's remote villages. Coming in lengths of 25m, they are perfect for heavy use in the garden and tent or yurt construction.

The above photo shows the 100% wild Nepali hemp cordage, a perfect choice for the environmentally conscious gardener. To view this product's page, please click here!

The photo below shows the 100% Himalayan nettle cordage. The soft, flexible and strong fibre make this ideal for a wide range of secure lashing. To view this product's page, please click here!

Monday 11 April 2011

Nepalese Silk

The photo above shows two varieties of cocoon. The bright yellow colour of the cocoon on the right is totally natural, but yields less fibre than the white cocoon. Each cocoon is made from one long continuous fibre, the white producing between 1000 to 1500 metres and the yellow only producing around 600 metres.

Our silk products, most notably our silk scarves, are produced in India and imported into Nepal. This is a situation that we are hoping to change with the help of Tej (an instructor of silk production). Tej works for a government-run silk factory in Banepa, just outside Kathmandu and also produces silk yarn at his home.

Spinning the silk fibres by hand is a time consuming task, especially if you wish to maintain the same quality and size of yarn. Our use of silk allows for the silk worm to be removed from the cocoon, whereas other forms of yarn production require an undamaged cocoon to be boiled before unravelling.
One of the many aspects of silk production that Tej teaches to remote villagers is how to prepare silk for long term storage. The above photo shows the cocoon being loosened in water then stretched onto a wooden frame. Upto 250 cocoons can be spread onto the frame and left to dry. Many of the remote villagers tend to supply Tej with cocoons in the natural state after cutting open the cocoon to remove the silkworm.

The above photo shows Kiran, our dyeing master, and Tej, the silk expert, discussing the finer details of silk fibre.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Button Production

Buttons are an important part of most garments and we want to make sure that the materials we use and production methods fit with our business ethos. We want to use sustainable natural materials, such as coconut shell, bamboo and peach stone. We do also use buffalo bone and buffalo horn, but try to keep the use of those materials to a minimum as it would be a shame for vegetarians if they appreciated our garments, but could not wear them due to a single button.

The above photo shows a worker shaping a horn button on a lathe and below shows workers carving intricate designs into each button. Electricity is vital for the operation of all the machinery, so a large generator is a neccessary evil to cover the many hours of scheduled powercuts.

This factory has been in business for over ten years and is probably one of the most organised factories I have seen here. It is with the same factory that we produce all of our paper tags and cards, other crafts available through this factory are various kinds of metalwork. Because of the professionalism of Surjaman (the manager) and the warm, friendly environment created by the staff (currently over 120 people are employed here!) we hope for a long and successful business relationship!!

Friday 1 April 2011

Supari Nut Pendant

Supari nuts (Nepalese name) can be commonly found in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia and parts of East Afica. It is also commonly known as betel nut as it is often chewed wrapped in betel leaves and sold as Paan. The botanical name for the palm that produces these nuts is areca catechu.

My interest in supari is strictly for its beauty and potential use for jewellery. In its dried state, it is easier to carve and shape than bone or horn and offers a unique  combination of natural brown and ivory patterns. Two sizes of the nut can be found here in Nepal, the smaller of the two I will craft into beads with the largest providing enough material for a fair sized pendant. The photo below shows a pendant that I crafted for our 2011 collection's photoshoot. In the coming months I will work more with this nut and the results will be available to view through our online shop.

The areca nut is not a true nut but rather a drupe. In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a stone. In the ripe fruit the husk becomes yellow or orange and, as it dries, the fruit inside hardens to a wood-like consistency.

Areca nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant, causing a mild hot sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness, although the effects vary from person to person. The effect of chewing betel and the nut is relatively mild and could be compared to drinking a cup of coffee. In my experience, drinking coffee will always come before chewing areca nuts!