Category Archives: Home Decor

Elei Fabric from Samoa

So, I had always intended to help people around the world with microloans through an organization like Kiva. But as happens with many good intentions, I never did it. Well I did now. I came across Kiva and saw they are encouraging microloaning to female entrepreneurs right now, in a campaign for International Women’s Day. For only $25, you can help make a difference in a family’s life.

I decided to see if any women were doing the things I like to do, as the path to feed their families and educate their children. I browsed the Arts lending category at Kiva, and found women in Samoa who make fabric! It’s called Elei and they make it with paint, stencils and carved wood patterns! I contributed microloans ASAP. I hope the loans help make the business dreams of these women come true, for themselves and their families.

And that’s when I discovered the art of Elei fabric …

I learned that Elei fabric artisans often make stencils with old X-ray film. The stencil designs make wonderfully bold patterns, like these pillows from JO’LI Elei Designs:

JO'LI ELEI Fabric Pillows

From Samoa’s Elei Crafters & Events website, wouldn’t this tablecloth pattern mix wonderfully with today’s popular bohemian/tropic/jungalicious style?

Elei Fabric Pattern

And oh goodness, if you want to see more pattern deliciousness, click through to A’au-Elei and see more, much more, like this:


A series of photos on Flickr shows you some of the process, from a fabric printing workshop at the Museum of Samoa:

Elei Fabric Printing from Museum of Samoa

The Gift Hutt’s catalog of resort wear on Slideshare gives you an idea of the pretty and very “vacationy” caftans and dresses that can be made with Elei fabric and patterns:

The Gift Hutt Resort Wear Elei Fabrics

The Gift Hutt Elei Fabric Caftan

And now, I’m itching so bad to jump on an airplane for a tropical vacation on a Pacific Island. Of course I would come back with a suitcase loaded with Elei fabrics!

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Global Style: Necklace Displays

In the Marrakech souks, I was drawn to these chunky beaded and silver necklaces — you can see big displays of these everywhere in the souks:

Beaded Necklaces in Marrakech Souks

Yeah, I know it’s hard to focus here, there’s so much to see. It got overwhelming because everywhere you turned, there were scenes like this. I was able to focus and find a few things to buy in this shop, which was my first experience with negotiating in the Marrakech souks. Even though I probably still paid way too much, this man was nice and made the experience fun! It was like bargaining anywhere else, especially in Thailand where they make it a fun game.

Marrakech Souk Shopkeeper

But I didn’t buy any necklaces. Why? I know I wouldn’t ever wear them. Often we see things on vacation that are great in that vacation setting, but when we get back home to our regular lives, these things just don’t fit. The colors don’t go in our house, the style doesn’t go with our everyday work clothes, etc. It’s like getting back to the reality of our lives, versus what we’d like our lives to be when we’re on vacation. Maybe I’d like to be a bohemian babe who wears piles of these necklaces with caftans and I drift barefoot along long sunlit hallways all day, caftan fabric flowing and chunky beads clanking.

That is a magazine shoot. Or an Instagram shoot, more likely nowadays! It is not me or my real life. More likely I’m in a beige office in a basic all-black outfit, responding to email, or reading and highlighting a scientific paper and writing lots of notes in the margins, before I run to the next meeting of the day.

So. Felt like a fantasy just came crashing down there.

So I did not buy chunky beaded necklaces in the Marrakesh souks. But one night there, while at Le Tanjia restaurant, I spotted something. Something on the wall:

Le Tanjia Framed Necklace

My apologies the photo is so bad, but Le Tanjia is lit entirely with pierced metal lanterns so the atmosphere is dark and shadowy, and I may have had several strong mojitos before snapping this!

But you get the idea. Necklaces can be works of art. So why not treat them like works of art? Why not frame them and hang them? You can use shadowboxes for thick beaded necklaces like this. Here’s a few more framed necklaces I found online — this framed look is especially good with tribal necklaces with big style and personalities. These are from Neiman Marcus (left) and Amalthee Creations (right):

Framed Necklaces from Neiman Marcus and Amalthee Creations

Choose simple frames and matting to let the necklace be the visual focus.

You can drape necklaces on a vintage dress form. Put a plain dress or tunic on the dress form so the spotlight is on the necklace. This necklace was sold by Etsy shop MorningDoveDesign:

Necklace on Vintage Dress Form from Etsy Shop MorningDoveDesign

It appears these necklaces have sold, but this Etsy shop has many other beaded necklaces.

You could go crazy-nutso and pile a whole bunch of necklaces on a small vintage-style dress form that’s sized to display necklaces on a dresser or tabletop:

Necklace Display on Tabletop Dress Form

You could also pile beaded necklaces in bowls. Here’s a pile of old beaded necklaces I spotted in a bowl at the Antique and Garden Fair at Chicago Botanical Gardens:

Beads Piled in a Bowl

For a neutral look, here are strung African beads piled in a rustic industrial bowl that I saw at Randolph Street Market in Chicago years ago:

African Beads in Rustic Industrial Bowl

If these were turquoise, amber or carnelian color beads, the color pop could be really interesting.

If you come back from a vacation with jewelry that you feel doesn’t fit into your regular everyday life, try framing it or piling it in a bowl. Or display it some other way. This way, whenever you look at the jewelry, you can get the vacation fantasy and feeling back in your life, if even for a moment!

I seem to make a Pinterest Board for everything, and I made a board to collect ideas for displaying necklaces. Check it out for more ideas:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Necklace Displays on Pinterest.


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Global Style: Fish Trap Pendant Lights

Please don’t judge this post by its title! If you haven’t heard of “fish trap” lighting before, you might be wondering if this post will be any good. Yes, it sounds weird. But these lights are actually beautiful. And this is a story of a vision to use something in a way that’s very different from its original use.

Fish traps are exactly what you might think they are. They are used to catch fish, and they can be found in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines and India. Here’s what they look like in their natural habitat, as captured by Sir Mart in Penang, Malaysia:

Malaysia Fish Trap by Sir Mart on Flickr

And here they are in our habitat, after you add electrical and hang them as pendant lights. From Côté Maison, a home in Tunisia:

Fish Trip Pendant Light via Cote Maison in Tunisia

Fishing Trap Pendant Light via Cote Maison

The Selby spotted and shared this vintage fishing basket used as a huge pendant light in a Japanese home:

Fishing Basket Pendant Light via The Selby

This trio of fish trap lights was photographed by a traveler at Bumbu Bali restaurant in Malaysia and shared on TripAdvisor:

Fish Trap Lights via TripAdvisor

Not all are really long. Here are some shorter ones, a good size to hang over a dining table:

Fish Trap Pendant Lights

From Architects Kauai, here’s six fish traps made into a dramatic chandelier in a large space in a Hawaiian home:

Kauai Architects FishTrap Chandelier

If you don’t need pendant lights, you can set them on a table or the floor as sculptural objects. Here A Thoughtful Eye shares fishcatcher baskets seen at Oly at High Point in 2012, so maybe now in 2016 we are late to the fish trap party:

Fishcatchers at Oly via A Thoughtful Eye Blog

Fishcatcher Sculpture at Oly via A Thoughtful Eye Blog

If you search for these, they’re also called “fish catchers” and “fishing baskets.” In Indonesia they are called “fish bubu.” These lights may show up in upscale places, but they have humble beginnings. They can be made of bamboo and reeds, and they are loosely woven. Here’s a fish trap being made in Indonesia captured by Petcha2 on Flickr:

Fish Trap Assembly in Indonesia via Petcha2 on Flickr

Here’s a close-up of an Indonesian bubu made of bamboo. As noted in the story, these fishing traps are not made or used much any more for their original purpose of catching fish. They’re more often decorative:

Fish Trap Made of Bamboo via The Star

They have organic shapes and wabi-sabi style imperfections, like these fish traps that are leaning this-a-way and that-a-way:

Wabi Sabi Fishing Baskets

The materials and shapes are good for many decorating styles from global style to beachy and coastal style, natural whites style. They can even be mixed well with modern style.

Sometimes they’re woven of metal, which is a very different look than bamboo and reeds. Maybe more industrial. Also, if you are interested in buying fish trap pendant lights online, be sure to check the measurements. They can get quite large! See the size of this fish trap photographed by Whoa Adventures in Sarawak:

Fish Trap in Sarawak

If you happen to be traveling somewhere and you see a pile of basket-type things with funnel shapes in them, like these found in Italy by Strangetrader, grab some! They make great pendant lights:

Fish traps in Italy via Strangetrader

Here is where you can find them online so you don’t have to travel far. You can buy these fishcatcher lights online from Our Boat House in Vero Beach, Florida:

Fishcatcher Pendant Lights from Our Boat House Shop

I’ve also found fish traps on eBay, but quite expensive, like $800 including shipping from Asia. Another option is to look for a similar style, like “woven pendants” or “basket lamps” like these from Modish Store:

Woven Abaca Lights from Modish Store

And these basket cloche lamps also from Modish Store:

Basket Cloche Lights from Modish Store

I made a whole board of fishing traps and pendant lights on Pinterest:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Fishing Basket Lights on Pinterest.

As you may have noticed lately, I’m posting less often now but when I do, I’ll try to share lots of good stuff in a post for you!

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