Into the Woods: Style + Sustainability

By Zoe Helene

Ethically sourced and handmade by earth sensitive artisans who are preserving valuable traditions, these romantic works of art celebrate the colors, textures and shapes of wild woodland species and spaces in late summer and early autumn. The inspiration for this collection is a wooded conservation trail in Western Massachusetts called Rattlesnake Gutter, a spectacular ledge-rock chasm filled with giant boulders left by Ice Age glaciers. Over many thousands of years, trees and other plants have fallen onto the rocks and decomposed, creating just enough soil for new plants to take root, flourish and spread.

SUTRA JEWELRY Natural Diamond Dangler Earrings; $32,000 Luxurious enough for a fairy queen, these inspired earrings feature 30 karats of ethically sourced natural faceted diamonds in forest colors set in 19-karat yellow gold. “There is so much organic beauty in a stone,” says designer Arpita Navlakha. Materials are guaranteed conflict free. (STYLE #: SJE627)

JOHN TILTON Wiggle Jar, $750 John Tilton makes simple yet sophisticated pots with “lots of spirit.” When one of his pots comes out of the kiln, he says, it looks “like it’s been growing for a thousand years in the woods.” This aptly named curvy little goddess pot has plant-inspired nuances achieved with matte crystalline-glazed porcelain, demonstrating Tilton’s rare mastery of a complex craft.

DOLLYBIRD DESIGN Marshland Ring, $175 Katie Johansson is working to “keep the rapidly disappearing lapidary arts alive” by creating collector jewelry for people who value unique handmade pieces. She works with independent miners who hand-cut and polish each stone, unearthing “little pieces of art that only Mother Nature could create.” Flow with the forest’s flora with this collector agate ring celebrating the last days of summer with heavenly swirls of leaf, moss, lichen greens and whispery ivory. Hand bezel set in sterling and bubbly in its cut, this Brazilian agate is a one-of-a-kind gem.

NOVICA Earthen Sky Zapotec Wool Area Rug, $420; Set the scene with the grounding presence of this handmade Zapotec wool area rug, inspired by gentle, calming neutrals found in nature. Artisan Alberto Ruiz Garcia and his wife call this design, with beautiful diamond motifs that exemplify their Zapotec heritage, Cielo Café (“sky coffee” in Spanish). Novica, in association with National Geographic, supports preservation of fine traditional arts and crafts around the world. (4 x 6.5)

CHAN LUU Amazonite Wrap Bracelet, $295 and Gold Mix Beaded Wrap Bracelet, $210.00 Let these two dreamy, handcrafted bracelets wrap around your wrist like friendly forest vines. Through the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), Chan Luu is empowering marginalized women by in areas where economic opportunities are scarce. The organization's motto, “not charity, just work,” aptly describes key drivers of the organization. Production is, “100 percent ethical and with a strong focus on environmental protection,” the organization’s website states. Although the Chan Luu’s signature collection is not technically under their “EFI” line, Chan Luu, who is originally from Vietnam, is proud to employ people from her home country. Chan Luu’s EFI line is crafted by people in both Kenya and Haiti.

MIN CHIU Cathayana Shibori Shawl Inspired by the natural world, this Min Chiu silk Arashi Shibori shawl flows with the flora and fauna of a forest. Each of Chiu’s unique pieces is hand dyed, then pleated and painted using ancient Japanese resist-dyeing techniques.

DEB LITTLE Curious Red Fox Kit Photographer Deb Little captured this image of an adorable two-month-old red fox—the smallest of the wild canine family—that dens in her pasture. “Watching them grow up is always such a treat,” she says.

Humane Society creates awareness campaigns and permanent wildlife sanctuaries to mitigate loss of habitat, a major threat for foxes and other animals. Foxes are hunted and trapped because they’re regarded as nuisances and the fashion fox fur trade still thrives. The Humane Society is also working to stop a barbaric blood sport called “penning,” in which dozens of dogs compete in a confined arena to kill foxes.

THE STORY OF VINTAGE Antique Entomology Print, $19.95 Martine Zajacek rescues and rebirths antique and vintage printed illustrations into framed collector’s items. “Every item has a story to tell,” she says. “Who made it? Who owned it? How did it happen to cross my path?” The most important question, Zajacek adds, is “why have you fallen in love with it?” This pretty print is just one of many interesting and beautiful choices. The Butterfly Book, Plate VIII, by W.J. Holland, 1898

DOLLYBIRD DESIGN 1975 Ring, $325 Katie Johansson is working to “keep the rapidly disappearing lapidary arts alive” by creating collector jewelry for people who value unique handmade pieces. She works with independent miners who hand-cut and polish each stone, unearthing “little pieces of art that only Mother Nature could create.” This retro chic collector’s ring made of hand bezel set sterling and jasper commemorates 1970s pop culture. The rich range of red fox browns and tree bark beiges was on trend yesterday, is again today and will remain a favored look tomorrow.

DWIGHT DAVIDSON Scroll Greenman Tile, $70 Inspired by architectural ornamentation on buildings in New York City and Paris, Dwight Davison said the scroll motif on this tile reminds him of “the curling bark of a tree.” The artist describes his enchanting bah relief tile series as an exploration of “a visual archetype of men more closely connected to nature” and a “more sensitive image of being male.”

THE FAERIE MARKET Fiber Art Luna Moths, $155 each Elizabeth Withey’s studio is full of color and life, “with a bit of a folklore and faerie world twist.” Moths symbolize soul transformation, so if you’ve been looking for a meaningful way to shape-shift treasured bits of textiles, beads and bobbles, this might be your answer. Withey is happy to customize using items from customer’s collections and welcomes challenging requests in making her one-of-a-kind whimsical bling for sunhats and such.

NATURE'S IMAGE BY DESIGN Frog Prince Photographer Anita Miller is both a listener and a storyteller. “Through the camera’s lens, subjects reveal themselves,” she says. This chilled-out frog immersed in a luxurious bath of vivid, confetti-like water plants “held my attention for hours,” she says.

Save the Frogs! is helping to protect frogs and other wildlife by constructing wetland sanctuaries. Almost one-third of the world's amphibian species are on the brink of extinction, and the leading cause of population decline is habitat destruction. Most wetlands in the United States have either been destroyed or modified.

TOMMY JACKSON Carico Lake Turquoise Cuff, $900 This cuff bracelet with stamped designs incorporates exceptional Carico Lake turquoise with rare moss green colors and depth set in swirling silver. Tommy Jackson, a full-blooded Navajo Indian from Arizona who learned silversmithing from his parents, merges traditional Navajo designs with contemporary aesthetics. His pieces are in collections across the globe. Jackson gives back to his community by teaching children Navajo history and cultural arts, and many of his former students have become accomplished jewelry makers.

ANNE + ANNA Moss Green Trapezoid Ikat Clutch, $98 Anne Saguil and Anna Ayuyao help preserve the native cultural arts of the Philippines through their line of ethical accessories. Local artisans handcraft this rich moss-green hard shell clutch using indigenous materials such as Abaca ikat fabric, Kamagong wood and mother of pearl.

HEATHER HALL Late Summer Woodland Plaid Blanket, $750 Contemporary fiber artist Heather Hall’s wearable art has visual depth and sensitivity. Using top-quality, locally sourced natural materials and found and donated remnants, Hall takes her time with each fine felted piece, “passing on the pleasure of slow, understated, timeless luxury.” Felting is one of the earliest textile techniques, dating back 8,000 years. Merino wool felted into cotton/silk voile with merino wool yarn crochet edging.

DAVID HURWITZ ORIGINALS Vermont Maple Taffy Mirror, $1,085 Vermont based artist David Hurwitz likes how the “high-style feel is softened by the natural wood grain” in this fluid wall mirror. Hurwitz welcomes custom sizes and color orders, including woods by request. This one is carved from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sustainably harvested Vermont sugar maple. Photo: Jack Rowell

DANIEL MAHER STAINED GLASS Sunshine Through Leaves Autonomous hanging window composed of serving plates, wine bottle bottoms, stemware bottoms and faceted stained glass jewels. The background is a variety of textured handblown glass, and the border is composed of several different patterns of pale lavender Depression glass serving plates. Nurtured by a passion for preserving the works of the past. And driven by a vision to create new works that reflect our lives today — and into the future.

LUKE GARDNIER NZ Flower Jade Maori Infinity Twist; $398; Luke Gardiner of the Mountain Jade group carved this romantic pendant in a traditional design of the Maori, indigenous people of New Zealand. This traditional design symbolizes the eternal bonding of two souls “through friendship and love.” Flowering jade, a rare stone found only in New Zealand, is prized for its spectacular, flora-like textures and colors.

ROBERT BERDAN Turkey Tail Polypore Turkey Tail Polypore (Trametes versicolor) are medicinal mushrooms found all over the world in color combinations that look like a turkey’s tail feathers. The mushrooms have been used medicinally for hundreds of years in Europe, Asia and North America, and records dating to China’s Ming Dynasty describe how to brew Turkey Tail into a medicinal tea.

LOTTA STENSSON Silk Saladin Poncho, $219 (left) and Salmon Batik Maxi Poncho, $335 (right) Soak in the last days of summer sunshine in a handcrafted poncho then tuck it into your carry-on for your mid-winter warm-weather retreat. Lotta Stensson incorporates hand-embroidery techniques, batik and specialty hand-drawn prints into her elegantly exotic beach essentials and has developed her own hand-carved wooden blocks for printing on semi-sheer silk fabric. Her feminine and sexy bohemian silhouettes add easy-wear glamor to any traveler’s wardrobe.

PEGGIE WILCOX Currents Artisan Basket, $1,300 Peggie Wilcox’s exquisite works of art incorporate Native American, European willow and contemporary basket-making traditions. Wilcox sees “the seasonal rituals of gathering and processing” her plant materials as “an integral part of every basket” she makes. This graceful basket was hand woven using all-natural color plant materials, including Western red cedar inner bark stakes, rush twining, iris leaves and maidenhair fern stems.

AMY NGUYEN 3D Wrap, $950 Wrap yourself in the earthy embrace of this one-of-a-kind kinetic “artwear” sculpture by textile artist Amy Nguyen. Nguyen sees every piece she makes as both sculptural and functional. “On the body, this cloth becomes the most intimate art,” she says. This piece, which seems to embody the spirit of a healthy tree or a forest-dwelling nymph, takes more than 30 hours to make using heat-set shibori, hand stitching, water and pressure on metallic polyester organza from Nguyen’s vast collection of salvaged fabrics.

SELDA OKUTAN Owl Puhu Ring, $355 Artist and environmentalist Selda Okutan works in Turkey, where the owl symbolizes the arts. Okutan uses recycled precious metals whenever possible and avoids materials from unknown sources.

TESLER + MENDELOVITCH Great Ebony Clutch, $720 The textile design team of Tesler + Mendelovitch incubates and creates never-before-seen materials for its high-quality, custom-made functional art. With the launch of “wearable wood” limited-production clutch purses, constructed with the finest quality salvaged ebony, Tesler + Mendelovitch has transformed wood into a surprisingly lightweight new textile. Their goal is “to produce timeless pieces that we hope will be relevant for a long time,” says Orli Tesler. “Designing something with a very long shelf life is what sustainability means to us.”


About The Author

Zoe Helene is a Multidisciplinary Artist and Environmental Activist who is building a global network of sustainability trailblazers called Cosmic Sister . As Sustainability Correspondent, Zoe works tirelessly to help communicate messages of hope, conscious living, and informed pro-activism to a wide audience.




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