From Borneo to Bonny Scotland..
I was thrilled to get my first ever front cover in this month’s Local Life magazine (hitting 700 homes along the Scottish East Coast), which features my Rattan Scalloped Tiffany lampshade in their lovely ‘Inspired illumination’ piece on my business. Thank you Local Life!
‘Sustainably sourced rattan’ is a throwaway line in the article, but I would have loved to highlight in more detail the sustainable approach I take to sourcing all my materials, especially the rattan in this collection.
Why my rattan collection is a sustainable choice
‘Environmental sustainability’ is ‘the ability to maintain an ecological balance in our planet's natural environment and conserve natural resources to support the wellbeing of current and future generations’. Ok, thank you Google for the definition. Sounds ambitious! And what does it really mean when it comes to an independent artisan like me trying to source materials responsibly from halfway across the world?
My Rattan Collection was inspired by a small retro pendant that hung in the bathroom of my childhood home here in East Lothian. Yet I wanted to make sure that we applied 21st century values to the materials I work with so it was important to me that we really did our research on rattan.
Here is what I learnt.
Rattan is an Old-World climbing palm, with over 600 species. 95% of the world’s rattan is grown in the forests of Southeast Asia, predominantly Indonesia (70%), Borneo, Malaysia and the Philippines.
These amazing slender stems (or vines) grow naturally, using trees for support as they climb up into the forest canopy in search of sunlight. The brilliance of this is that because the trees are essential for the vine’s survival, choosing rattan helps to prevent deforestation – the loggers who work that land opt to harvest the rattan ‘canes’ instead of the forest trees for timber.
Rattan is also much easier to harvest and transport and requires simpler tools, so local communities can have a sustainable stake in their forests. And it grows much faster than most tropical wood, which makes it an appealing crop.
We’ve worked hard to find a trusted supplier to provide responsibly harvested rattan for our lampshades. The Borneo government (where we source our rattan) insists on finished products for export to build in more control over the production and protection for the workers. The rattan we receive is woven and then rolled. And then it’s up to me to transform it into something that can light up a room, literally!
I’ll be posting some videos direct from my studio soon to show how I make my lampshades but each rattan design involves precision cutting the panels of rattan from the roll before fixing them around a light antique frame and then hand stitching along the trimmings to ensure the perfect finish.
I love to complement the simple weave of this amazing natural material with vivid fringing and braiding as well as vibrant Liberty fabric trimming to create a lampshade that really pops!
My Rattan Scalloped Tiffany Collection [link to product on website] can hang as a pendant or be used with a lamp base. They come in three fabulous colour ways and in three different sizes. But if you would like your rattan lampshade in a different colour or size, consider my Commission Service, which can help to match any design to your interiors scheme.
I love to talk about rattan (as you can see from this blog!) – if you want to know more about it or are curious about the crafting techniques or my rattan design collection, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
Love, Amanda x
Oh and PS. Rattan isn’t wicker. Rattan is the natural material, whereas ‘wicker’ refers to the end piece, in most cases furniture. The term ‘wicker’ is actually from different languages in Scandinavia. It is believed to come from two words: ‘wika’ which translates roughly as ’to bend’ alongside the word ‘vikker’ which translates to ‘willow’. I’ll stop Googling things now!
Posted on April 06 2023