Friday, January 31, 2014

A Collection of Altars

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This year's Lunar New Year celebrations and articles reminded me of the of altars and offering bowls I have in the shop. A relatively small collection, these finely-crafted altars have wonderfully detailed carvings and gorgeous patinas and textures. It gives us a glimpse to where these treasured objects have traveled. Each one worn away differently by age and time, they are now all truly one-of-a-kind.

The rarest altar and one of my absolute favorites is the Buddhist Shrine shown above. Almost all Buddhist homes in Burma contain a hpaya-zin, a small shrine placed on the eastern wall of the house. These shrines house an image of the Buddha where members of the household perform their daily devotions. Made of thickly lacquered and gilded wood, this shrine contains a tooled reflective tin interior with “jewels” which are pieces of cut glass. I have two shrines, one which went directly into my personal collection. The other shrine will be available through The Loaded Trunk soon (if you sign up for our email list, I'll let you know when that happens!).

The form of these brass Burmese Ceremonial Bowls follows that of monks' alms begging bowls. The interiors have beautiful patinas that have developed over the last 75 to 150 years. Relief work is hand chased and detailed with scenes from Burmese folklore. It seems likely that these bowls were made to be used on an altar before an image of Buddha. They were meant to hold water and thus flowers and would have stood to either side of the image.

This Buddhist Spirit House is another work of art that that is a unique "only one." A representation of a home or temple, spirit houses are typically found in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma. They are placed in auspicious places in the home and provide shelter to spirits who need to appeased with offerings. I love the symmetry and detailed carvings, a statement piece with so much architectural interest. This currently isn't available in the shop, but please email me if you're interested in more details and pricing.

Sorry, this piece has been sold. No longer available.

Finally, these stone architectural artifacts, recycled from old buildings, were salvaged from the ruins of old houses in India. No two are alike. They are weighty, rustic and fantastic. Lean them in a favorite corner of a book shelf or place one in your garden. Quite large, they're sculptural and unique; their inset nooks make an ideal spot to create an devotional altar of your own. The piece shown above with the blues, greens, and stone and rust tones is no longer available. See the other three right here.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fabric Collar - Do It!

Sewing Kantha Fabric Collars with Santina Cessor
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This week's DIY post was by Santina Cessor, the talent behind the Threads, a blog about sewing and fashion. Santina only started sewing about a year ago, but she was a quick learner and started doing custom alterations on vintage clothes for friends and clients. I asked Santina to take some of the scrap fabric I've been collecting and make us something easy and useful. Keep reading for a step-by-step how-to of how to make a fabric collar. Santina chose to work with one of our vintage kanthas.

DIY Fabric Collar
by Santina Cessor

A simple accessory can update any outfit. You might pile on bracelets, earrings, necklaces or even a scarf, but have you thought about adding collar? Collars, Peter Pan collars in particular,  have been a fun fashion trend we've seen everywhere – high-end runway looks, ready-to-wear-fashion, DIY.

Creating your own collar is simple and can be completed with just a few tools.


  • Cutting Board
  • Scissors or Rotary Cutter
  • Paper
  • ½ Yard fabric
  • Thread (matching or contrast)
  • Ribbon

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1. Create your collar pattern on paper similar to the one above. Be sure to measure your neck to confirm the curve is large enough. Click here for a free printable pattern by Sewing Like Mad.

2. Fold fabric in half and place pattern atop it along the fold. Then pin in place.

3. Carefully cut fabric along the pattern. Repeat step 2 & 3. You should end up with two pieces.

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4.  Place pieces right side together and pin.

5. Set up your sewing machine for straight stitch, or thread your needle for hand stitching. You’ll need a standard foot and edge foot.

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6. Sew along the curves end to end leaving a ¼” seam allowance. When finished turn fabric right side out and iron.

7. On the open end gather ¼” on each side and fold over towards each other, then pin in place. Sew along the edge with edge foot and leave 1”on each end.

8. Push ribbon into 1” opening then fold ¼” seams toward ribbon, pin together. Fold ribbon to the back and stitch together.

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The nice thing about collars is that you can quickly change your look by switching out the ribbon. Change the color palette and slip in a hot pink or black ribbon. Add some texture by trying lace. Swap in a luxurious silk ribbon. Or pin it demurely with a jeweled brooch. The collar offers many, many different looks that can change just about any outfit.

Have fun trying out this new look and we'd love to see what YOU come up with. Also, in case you missed it, see our gift bag DIY with #fabricscraps right here.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year + Our Look Book

The Loaded Trunk 2014 ISSU Look Book
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With the start of every year, there's the clean-slate feeling that allows us to dream about doing more and being better – at work, at home, with family, friends. Each year seems to fly by in a flash because we're all so busy, busy, busy. For 2014, I'm going to slow it down and appreciate achievements from last year instead of zooming ahead to figure out what I'm doing next.

One of my proudest achievements from 2013 is the publication of my first-ever digital catalogue for The Loaded Trunk. I often received emails from designers asking for a catalogue so I put it on my to-do list. Months would go by, I'd get more emails and then it would be shelved again. Not exactly business savvy. Working with my team, I finally made it a priority and am so happy to share it with you.

Although catalogues showcase the exact same items on the website, it's helpful to see things with other things for reference to scale and just as importantly, for style inspiration. Links are active and will take you directly to the item you're browsing. You can see the catalogue in its entirety here.

Below are some of my favorite spreads from the catalogue. All photography with additional styling by Sharon Gottula.

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