Clonette dolls

The first time I came across Clonette dolls was about four years ago in Cape Town…
I always regreted not having bought one of these lovely dolls! These plastic dolls, where first produced in Ghana during colonial times inspired by traditional, African dolls that were carved out of wood. The Clonette doll was the first mass-produced doll in Africa and is still very popular nowdays.
Our little girl got her own Clonette doll from friends for Christmas this year and I decided to borrow it for a bit… I decided to work together with an amazing woodcarver, Blessing who I will feature on this blog soon… I asked him to transfer the Clonette doll back into what she originally came from: a wooden doll - with this amazing result!!!And this is just the beginning… The idea is to do all sorts off different things with her, with one of them turning her into a lampstand for the NOUSH lampshades.


The Tartan Trend 2013


I have to say I’m actually a little bit embarassed that up until yesterday I didn’t realize how big the Tartan Trend is at the moment - although my main inspiration the last couple of months has been the tartan shopper / travel bags.
After my friend from the Netherlands sent me pictures of Phoebe Philo of Celine’s Tartan range, I started researching it on the net… For hours I have been reading all sorts of articles, blog posts and discussion platforms, all of them in the first place discussing the same tartan print I work with (from the shopperbags).
It really intrigued me how people talk about the pattern… There were people saying that they find it inappropiate for “haute couture” to use a pattern that is, in the first place, associated with being poor. I have to tell you that I do so not agree on that…
I have to confess that I’m not a very big fan of tartan in general - but this particular tartan used on the plastic shopperbags is one I really LOVE! Mainly because to me it always seems connected to a story… I have seen people all over the world using them in all sort of different ways! I myself used them to move a lot of my belongings from the Netherlands to South Africa… A lot of people seem to carry their whole lives in them.
I think it is a wonderful thing that people who don’t necessarily have a lot of money are able to afford these incredibley strong bags with a fantastic pattern and that Haute Couture honours that same pattern; it is there for absolutley everyone!


Bertinah Khumalo

NOUSH would not have been what it is right now without Bertinah Khumalo, also known as MmaKhumalo.
She is an extremly talanted crafts women who I toltally adore in the first place because of her amzing eye, but also because of her honesty and power!
Together with her two daughters, son and two grandchilderen who she all supports, she lives in the deep-rural Umzinyathi District - one of South Africa’s poorest disctricts. She has also lost one daughter and a grandchild.
As a small girl MmaKhumalo learned how to do all sorts of different craft, from beadwork to weaving and wirework - just by watching her Mother do it. She now works closely togther with her own daugther Mpume, who clearly has got her mothers talent for craft!

The embroidery on recycled cornsacks is something no one ever taught MmaKhumalo… She just started doing it to kill some time, unaware of the amazing tecnique she discovered. Together she and I, are still exploring all the different possibilties and they seem endless.
It was a wonderful present that Lidewij Edelkoort decided to select our cushion covers for the Memphis Meets Africa Exhibition at the Design Indaba at the beginning of this year.

Langazela cushions at Memphis Meets Africa exibition curated by Lidewij Edelkoort.
Langazela cushions at Memphis Meets Africa exibition curated by Lidewij Edelkoort.

These cushion covers were developed for the NGO Africa!Ignite


I LOVE Basotho Blankets!

The very first time I saw Basotho Blankets, I was out in Isandlwana: deep rural KwaZulu Natal. It was winter and freezing cold and the blankets were hung over big aloes to dry in the bleached sun! The blankets were like beautiful bright flowers in a desolate dry landscape… When I saw them close up they turned out to be even more impressive, with their absolutely stunning patterns and embedded history! I will probably talk about the Blankets on this blog frequently since they became a huge source of inspiration for me.

The Basotho blankets we have at home are so loved that I always try to find a way to have them visible where possible… As a bedspread, or as a ‘throw’ on the couch. Even in summer I was still trying to show my favoutire parts of the blankets, by folding them into a cushion shape on the couch and that is when I decided “why not turn them into cushions!”
I also love to see what others create out of the blankets, I’m clearly not the only one who loves them so much :)

Basotho blanket dress by Thabo Makhetha.


Sindiso Khumalo

One of the last projects I was involved in as a product designer at the NGO Africa!Ignite was a collaboration with London based SA fashion designer Sindiso Khumalo. I helped develop embroidered panels inspired by Sindiso’s fabric designs and these were then made by the amazing Bertinah Khumalo. The panels came out amazing and were used for her latest collection!


Tartan Bags

I would love to share with you: “Why the Tartan?!”

I have always loved the tartan pattern on these bags that you see people use all over the world,
especially here in Africa where people sometimes seem to carry their whole lives in them!
They are extremly strong and relatively inexpensive but therefore then not made with much care in the details.

Louis Vuitton made an amazing variation to the bags, when they used the same tartan pattern but woven with leather - stunning but also crazy expensive of course!

I decided to use the actual bags, but in a novel way …
They turn out to have the perfect grid to embroider on and by giving them a 100% cotton lining, changing the size and adding a bright, traditional zulu ribbon detailing, they become wonderful funky acessoirs.

I was thrilled that House and Leisure liked my variation to the bag so much that they decided to make it their favourite for a day :)

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Hi there! Welcome to the NOUSH blog. Here we will share with you what inspires us, catches our eye, makes our hearts skip a beat … And above all we will frequently feature the amazing craftswomen that we colaborate with. We hope you enjoy reading and look forward to your comments …