Spring is here with Duchy Eco gardening tools

March 24th, 2010

Spring is here and it time to get planning and planting!

Here at good green gifts we stock Duchy Original Gardening tools from eco pruning shears, trowels and forks to heavy duty (but not too heavy) digging spades and forks.

Duchy Original gardening tools are part of the Prince of Wales’ collection of products that are committed to sustainability.

The wooden handles of these garden tools have been specially designed for comfort and ease and are made from sustainably sourced straight-grained ash sourced from the Duchy of Cornwall estate. This guarantees high quality wood from a renewable source.

 They are then hand barrel waxed – a natural protection method. The tool heads are manufactured in steel by craftsmen and hand polished. All the profits go back into the Prince of Wales’ charities.

So if you are looking for some special and beautiful gardening equipment (and just a little bit posh!) to start your digging, pruning and weeding, then these eco garden tools come highly recommended.

Mohamed Hamid: Master potter

February 15th, 2010

Good Green Gifts is based in a hub of creativity. Downstairs, we have a pottery studio, a book binders, a guitar maker, a jeweller, a screen printer, theatrical wig maker…

However, our focus today is on Mohamed Hamid, a master potter, whose studio is home to many pottery students (some of whom have been working with him for over 20 years). Step inside, and you will normally find three or more students on the wheel or hand building alongside a wide variety of pots, sculptures, cups and bowls all at differing stages of creativity and progress.

Mohamed has been making pots for 30 years, and after college he trained with both Alan Cagier-Smith and Jonathan Chiswell-Jones before setting up his own studio in 1989 with a Crafts council grant.

Mohamed is passionate about his craft and believes that having a piece of beautifully hand made pottery is a life enriching experience, with these objects being enjoyable aesthetically and practically. There is a story behind every hand made pot – the history of the maker, the influences on the potter that have informed the form, the decoration and the glazes used. The history of the training that the potter has undertaken, the experiments with kilns, glazes, clays and the endless trial and error.

Pottery is a relatively eco-friendly practice. The materials are natural, there is little waste, most of the materials are local. Glazes and pigments are all natural although the firing process is the least eco friendly part of the process demanding energy use and some emissions. Buying UK pottery means that you can support crafts people, local economies and can avoid the environmental consequences of mass production and importation.

Mohamed is concerned that due to strict EU and health and safety regulations, pottery is no longer taught in schools. He worries about the impact this will have on the number of truly skilled potters. In addition, due to cheap imports, the UK based ceramics industry is struggling and, if we are not careful these wonderful skills will be lost.

At Good Green Gifts we recognise the importance of supporting skilled crafts men and women, and, as well as Mo, we have a large number of UK potters people making hand made pottery for our gift and wedding lists, as well as the classic Burleigh ware – one of the few remaining UK potteries.

What is Kuba cloth?

February 1st, 2010

Despite its vast potential wealth, the Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world. Years of conflict have created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises leading to extreme poverty, mass homelessness and terrible health, nutrition and education circumstances. Oxfam gives a full report on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

With such extreme problems, supporting people in the Congo through the purchase of Kuba cloth offers a tiny solution to a tiny number of people, yet it offers this handful of Artisans both an income and a way of keeping their traditional crafts alive when so much else has been lost. Our Kuba cloth cushions tell a story, are striking, comfortable but are cushions that give peace of mind, knowing that you are relaxing amidst a sofa full of cushions that have made a difference to other people’s well being.

Kuba cloth is is a plain square of raffia cloth transformed into an amazing and intricate hand made textile with a rich ancient cultural history. An entire social group is involved in the production of the cloth, from gathering the fibers, weaving the cloth, dyeing the decorative strands, to applying the embroidery.

The square of Kuba cloth, the ‘mbal’, is woven by men on a loom while traditionally women decorate the cloth, using local plant dyes to colour the raffia, a needle to weave the raffia through the cloth, and a sharp knife to cut and tuft the raffia. Each square can take a month to complete.

The patterns in Kuba cloth are very traditional, representing aspects of the local geography or traditions.

Our Kuba cloth cushions have been supplied by a two person band – who are buying Kuba cloth directly in the Congo at fair prices, and are then transforming it into cushions. We have seen similar cushions for sale on the Kings Road for over £200 and hope that the money is being returned to the Congo to support communities. This is extremely rare cloth, and makes for the most stunning cushions with an amazing story behind them.