Living On The Edge...

Silk Merchant - Santorini

Fira, Santorini

I'm not sure if it is because of all of the white washed buildings, but all of the colours, no matter which way you turn, look so vivid. The stark white against the endless blue sky, with the Aegean Sea against the raw landscape ...I think the sun even shines brighter????

Sitting on my balcony, eating sweet baklava, (that I buy and consume by the kilo)` and drinking pale pomegranate tea, the smells, the all seems to enhance the experience.  Views, food, sunshine, is good!!!

And of course there is shopping.  Even in a market that sees it's fair share of tourism, I can still appreciate the fine silver jewelry, and the delicate lace. The lace, handmade on the island and seen blowing in the wind to dry after being dyed by hand.

As a Silk Merchant, I have discovered a greater appreciation for small artisan endeavours and the attempt by artists, purists and lovers of beauty, to sustain the art and craftsmanship of fashion.  Therefore, I applaud and seek to support these artists in the most practical way that I can.....I shop!!!!  At great personal expense to myself, I try to do my bit for the art of fashion.  I pack my Oasis Handbag, with delicate earrings, a gorgeous strappy lace top, fine silver chains, and head home.  It seems to have been a fine days work.

Of course at this point I need to mention that life as a Silk Merchant is not all easy going. To get to the shopping market, to the gorgeous little boutiques, to the baklava bakery and to all of the wonderful smelling tavernas, I must traverse a difficult path which includes hundreds of steps and much stopping to breathe and take in the view. But once I have purchased all of my little goodies, the road all down hill and at the end of the path, I am back to my balcony, chair, baklava and view!!! 

Life is great!!!

The Baby Taj

Agra, India

How amazing that 400 years ago, artisans of many different creative forums, created this wonderful piece of art.  Even the way that the colours are consistent within each pattern and are designed to reflect both the sun and the moon highlight the incredible creative talents that have existed throughout history.

At The Silk Merchant, we love to celebrate the creative genius and the skilful talents of craftsman, creators and visionaries.  Not only do these artisans create beauty in their own time, but they continue to inspire beauty throughout the generations.  Often we in the modern world assume that we are inventing something new, but we, at The Silk Merchant, recognise unashamedly, that we are inspired by artists of old, to blend the old with the new, the traditional with the contemporary.  Our Silk Merchant signature handbag, The Merchant, was directly inspired from the design and architecture of "The Baby Taj". 

How fortunate that in our modern world, that we are able to travel and lay down new memories based on a world created for us,  in a time long ago...

Artisans At Work

Delwara Village, Rajasthan

Travelling in India is full of surprises, challenges and immense rewards.  As we travel for The Silk Merchant, this is no exception.  

Delwara Village is situated about 30km from Udaipur. This pretty village located within a tranquil rural valley sits quaintly dwarfed by the amazing Devigahr Fort, built in 1576.  

While staying in the Fort, which has now be converted to a beautiful hotel, we were able to spend time wandering through the village admiring the artisans at work in their homes. We sat on the floor with the silversmith as he crafted us a simple but beautiful silver bracelet.  We wandered and admired the paintings and murals on the walls at the entrance to homes. Paintings that told the story of an upcoming wedding or a story of grief in memory of a deceased loved one. We were welcomed with open arms to a village celebration, which although we were separated by language and cultural barriers were able to connect with amazing men and women ... to share ideals, cultural norms and experiences that are what makes the Road that we at The Silk Merchant travel, so inspiring.  It goes without saying, that the colours and the designs that we saw added another layer to our creativity.  We were able to "inhale" creative ideals that are embedded in this world and then take their experiences, their history, along with their skills and share it further abroad.  Isn't this why we at The Silk Merchant travel.  Why we bring and share artistic pieces as well as ideas from far and wide? 

At The Silk Merchant, each of our Handbag designs reflect each and every experience that we continue to collect along our journey.  Each silk scarf reflects a colour or an idea or a moment in time.  As I look at this photo of one of the village pottery artisans, the colour of her sari, the wrinkles on her hands, the smile on her face all reflect the years of imagination and craftsmanship at her fingertips.  Each loving article that she hand crafts, dyes and fires is testament to not only her life, but the history and culture of her village and the new experiences she is yet to share.  We are just so fortunate to be able to share this along with her! 

So are we surprised?...yes!  Some of our 'best" ideas have come from totally unexpected places.

Are we challenged?....yes!  Travelling in India is not for the fainthearted.

But the rewards are immense!!!  The people, the colours, the food, the hospitality, the inspiration and the list goes on.....

Urban Oasis

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Each of us at The Silk Merchant love to travel.  Whether it be the dusty road, a busy metropolis or a deserted beach, we embrace it. Our style evolves through the different environments, people and experiences that we are exposed to.  Each of these elements contribute to who we are and what we create.  An essential element of our creative journey, is the physical and social journey that we engage.  However, to absorb fully these encounters, as Silk Merchant travellers, we need a respite. It is during these times, that most of our thoughts become concrete or take shape.  Not during our times of busyness, but our times of rest.

We need an oasis even in the midst of lovable chaos. A place to replenish our soul, cool our senses and inhale the smells, languages, food and vibe of each culture and subculture that we visit.  A glimpse of a simple turquoise pool or a long cool drink can allow us to enjoy a moment of quiet.  To rest.  Enjoying this moment of peace is not idleness, but is a valuable moment to listen to the murmur of the water, to watch the movement of clouds or to observe the quiet conversation and laughter of friends sharing life together.  It is by no means a waste of time.

After a busy day searching whatever form of marketplace we may find ourselves, this time for us is vital.  

Our secret hideaway.  A place to imagine. New designs.  New ideas. The Silk Merchant story continues.




Room With A View

Red Fort, Agra, India

In the distance you will probably recognise one of the most famous architectural creations in the world ...The Taj Mahal.

As I stand here as a Silk Merchant, to view this great wonder, I possibly stand in the very same spot that the Emperor Shah Jahan himself stood in his final days, under house arrest. After being deposed and imprisoned by his son in Agra Fort, he spent his last 8 years with this view from the window in his room to look directly across at the masterpiece that he commissioned...The Taj Mahal.

Planning commenced in 1632 and with the completed estimated cost in today's value, of nearly US$900 million, Jahan memorialised his great love for his third wife by building her this majestic resting place after her death. 

In the construction and design of this marble and jeweled creation, over 20,000 artisans and craftsman were sourced from Persia, Europe and the Ottoman Empire and working for up to 20 years to complete. Over 1000 elephants were used to transport building materials including rare gems, gold, jasper, jade, crystal and marble from all spheres of The Silk Road, as far away as Arabia and China.

What started off as a memorial to a love story, ended according to myth and legend, in tragedy and betrayal.  It is claimed that with the completion of The Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, authorised mutilations, dismemberments and death of the artisans and architects employed to complete the Taj Mahal in an effort to deter any replication or recreation of the design and beauty crafted. What a price to pay for the skill and talent that these craftsman possessed!

How does love, creativity, artistry and beauty eventuate into death and tragedy? As we at The Silk Merchant travel, we are inspired not only by the beauty, the colour and the majesty, but also by the sacrifice and commitment to projects bigger than ourselves. While we celebrate the creation of our scarves and handbags and incorporate into our design, the colours and patterns that we experience along the way, we are reminded of the craftsmen and women throughout history that we have taken for granted, and what they may have sacrificed to contribute to the beauty and inspiration that we now enjoy.  That is why, we at The Silk Merchant are committed to fostering the dying art of organic silk making.  To underpinning and supporting this traditional craft that is thousands of years old and that originates from a simple silkworm into the creation and design of contemporary pieces of art.

All in the name of love, creativity and beauty.

The Road to Jaisalmer

Charba Village, Jodhpur Province  

One of the best things about travelling for The Silk Merchant is the interesting characters you meet along the way. Once you get off the beaten track, you meet the real people who love to stop and share and of course love any photo opportunity.  They become part of your support team...making you feel at home wherever you are in the world. Before you know it, you are being adopted into the family and breaking bread with the new "rellies".

Who would think that our handsome goat herder would be an inspiration for handbags and scarves. Or that his colour combination would inspire Silk Merchant style. As women there's no way that we are not thinking of fashion, even at a time like this.  We love the turban!

Even as we head off to our next destination...a date with some camels...we are trying to work out how to tie our newly acquired turbans, so that they make a fashion statement.

Could this be a new addition to The Silk Merchant accessory range?