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Montes & Clark

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Guest Blog post from Kate Clark of Montes & Clark, the design partnership between two friends, Lucy Montes de Oca and Kate Clark. Kate Clark studied embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework and has since taught and published on embroidery and other textile techniques. She makes her own embroidered artwork and lives in Wiltshire with her young family. Lucy Montes de Oca is an environmentalist and writer based in Hackney, London. She has started several enterprises and began this interiors brand with Kate a year ago having spent 3 months travelling in Mexico to source the best textiles. Her interest is in supporting the women in Mexico, insuring a fairtrade partnership and a sustainable business practice. kateatwork-46 There is a cave in the side of a looming mountain in central Mexico where the local craftswomen go. In this cave they light a fire and perform rituals to pray for their eyesight and to induce vivid dreams. These visions are then drawn onto fabric and passed to the local embroidery women to stitch to colourful life. This is the Otomi Indian tribe, and they are rightly proud of this rich tradition of embroidery. rrr It is a living tradition. The designs are not just ancestral symbols but incorporate modern life in all its contradictions. You will see an embroidery of a woman wearing traditional dress finished off with trainers, or a scene of young lovers with a truck parked behind them. The Otomi embroidery features fantastical, mythical creatures half from imagination and half from the local environment. I fell in love with this amazing embroidery during my training at the Royal School of Needlework and since went on to teach Mexican embroidery at the British Museum. When my good friend married a Mexican man, we decided we wanted to bring the very best of this art to British homes. In honour of this living craft we have created a brand which designs embroidered folk pieces with a modern feel. kateatwork-51 We have been amazed at the response during our first year. We have been profiled in the World of Interiors, approached my many independent shops as stockists, and had customers from all over the world. Most interestingly we have found the majority of our customers are men, who love the silhouette, cut-out look of the design against a sleek, minimalist interior. As well as the Otomi embroidery we have enjoyed working with a cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico who produce a very superior quality woven cotton. The women here use the traditional back-strap loom, adored by Frida Khalo, to weave thick cotton cloth the width of their arms. The designs incorporate colours and motifs symbolic to the Mayan culture, such as a corn sheaf for new life. We are working with this cooperative to produce an exciting new range for next spring/summer. Meanwhile we are getting ready for the Christmas season of Fairs and Markets. Next spring we will be excited to unveil our very first pop up shop, hosted ourselves in central London, with a series of cultural events. I will also open the doors of my workshop once a month for an opportunity for customers to come and browse our collections and see me at work. We hope you got a chance to see Montes & Clarke's beautiful stall at our Artisan Christmas fair in London last week. If you didn’t make it – do not fear! We are hosting another Artisan Christmas fair in Bath on the 12 December. artisanchristmasbannerjust-bath    


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