Travel Log

School Days February 19 2015


After our time in Peru, I realized how much I took for granted when I was young - being dropped off at school every morning and having the privilege to learn without being hungry. I was shocked to learn that a majority of elementary age children in Peru walk 2-3 hours with their siblings ONE WAY to get to school. The high altitude in Peru is unforgiving; it literally takes your breath away on even a leisurely walk. I can’t imagine being 6 and walking 2-3 hours down a mountain to get to school.

Thankfully, the Nutrition for Change Program (supported by Peruvian Hearts) gives children the nutrition they need to help them concentrate in school. By supplying them with a healthy lunch and a multivitamin, Peruvian Hearts is helping eliminate malnutrition among school children and improving overall attendance and achievement.

Education is one of the best ways to break the cycle of poverty, but sometimes just having school available isn’t enough. Almost 1/3 of Peru’s population lives below the poverty line, and without nutrition and education the next generation this will likely stay the same.

 


Design Process January 08 2015

We recently took a trip to China and India to see how artisans all over the world are making jewelry. We explored more than our feet could bare and came home inspired by the intricate process of bringing designs to life.

Every piece of Matterial Fix jewelry starts as wax, using an ancient technique called "Lost Wax Casting". Lost-wax is a process by which a duplicate metal sculpture is cast from an original wax sculpture. This process can be used with any material that can burn, melt, or evaporate to leave a mould cavity that molten metal can flow through and eventually harden. 



We got to take part in the process from beginning to endWatching the Lattice Earrings design taking shape, we sorted through the library of raw castings and prepared them for the plating department. After the stones are set and the ear wires are added, the earrings are prepared for shipping, and of course, eventually, shopping!  

I never dreamed that a trip to Peru to serve with our charity partner Peruvian Hearts would spur on more ideas and realities we had the chance to witness in person. Creativity is contagious. What are you doing with the talents you have to tell a story, give back, and change the world around you?

Uncommon Landscapes July 25 2014

In Peru, the blue sky is so beautiful that we’d sometimes let time pass and simply stare at it, trying to take it in. Other times we’d set out to explore the local landmarks in the Sacred Valley, and would come upon the most striking and uncommon scenes. Our two favorites were the agricultural terraces of Moray and the “Salineras de Maras”.


 

The terraces at moray, a kind of natural green house, were once used to grow crops at an altitude they typically wouldn’t grow. This way, the crop that usually grew in the more tropical parts of Peru could be grown in the mountains. As food lovers, let us just say that we respect their taste for variety.


 

As for the salt mines, about 3,000 small pools roughly 5 square meters each, we thought we’d come across a random but massive patch of snow. Instead, we got the chance to watch the local workers fill pools with natural spring salt from the area and then, simply, add water. We were told that once the water evaporated, each pool would be filled with salt 4 inches in height, ready for tasting.


 

If we came away knowing anything about the Incans, it’s that they were undeniable innovators.


Peruvian Promise July 08 2014

Food is a universal language, and on the first night we met the girls of Peruvian Promise, we quickly found out that cooking is as well. One of the girls, Flor Nelida, is studying culinary arts at a local institute, so she naturally took the lead in preparing dinner that night.

 

 

Flor took us to a market where she decided what she wanted to make that night for everyone (all the Peruvian Promise girls and us!) When we made it back to the Peruvian Promise apartment to meet the rest of the girls, she made sous chefs out of all of us and we spent the rest of the night bonding over food and laughter. 

What we love most about Peruvian Promise (the Girls’ Leadership and Empowerment Program of Peruvian Hearts) is that sense of confidence they instill in the girls through education. The girls come from families who can’t afford to send them to post-secondary school and who haven’t been educated themselves. Peruvian Promise offers them educational opportunities as well as mentorships to prepare them for their chosen careers.

 

Peruvian Promise gives them the chance to change their futures. That night, we witnessed it happening, and we’re so excited that we get to play a part in that change.

 

 


Elevation March 21 2014

One thing I love about traveling is the sense of adventure I get from getting outside my day-to-day life and challenging my comfort zone.

That’s what happened when I (terribly prone to carsickness) decided to get into a taxi in Peru’s Sacred Valley to drive up a mountain road that seemed to wind endlessly and way too close for comfort to the cliff’s edge.

My destination was worth it; we arrived at 13,000 feet of elevation to the school we came for, and even though the school looked like any other we’d seen, there was nothing else around for miles. I found out that many of the children walked 2 hours from their homes to get there, and that the meal they got at school was sometimes the only meal they got for the day.

It really felt like I’d stepped into another world, and what I found were these beautiful young girls dressed in their vibrant traditional clothing, their cheeks sun-chapped, their smile shy but welcoming. For a few short hours, I got to sit with them, talk with them about their hobbies and what they loved, and let them proudly show off to me the classroom where they learned.

I had braved this mountain in order to help Peruvian Hearts deliver food to these students and their teachers, but what I found was something more than I expected: a feeling of being connected to others I cared about; a feeling of being where I belonged.

 


Peru: Behind The Scenes March 14 2014



Inspired by our recent spotlight on InStyle.com, our own marketing team asked me to sit down with them for a quick question and answer session about our newest collection, Peru, and our responsibility to empower dreams and imagination in others. 

1. What inspired the Peru Collection?
Peruvian textiles are the main inspiration of the Peru collection.  The geometric patterns set off by vibrant colors were totally invigorating!

2. Describe the Peru Collection's aesthetic. 
In a nutshell: Angular edges softened by cut outs to create an airy contrast.

 


3. What emotions do you want your latest collection to evoke in its wearer?
I’d like this collection to evoke feelings of empowerment and compassion.

4. What makes the Peru Collection different from the India Collection?
The aesthetic in Peru is so different from India. I think the collections have similar elements, but the Peru collection is more vibrant and has a more consistent geometric pattern.

5. Can you break down your design process? How was your design process different from your previous collection (if at all)?
While I'm traveling, I focus mostly on the non-profit organization we've partnered with, learning about them and serving them in whatever ways they need. But I also pull inspiration from everywhere and take a lot of pictures. I usually don't start the design process until I'm home and can piece together all the elements of the trip that were physically, mentally, and emotionally inspirational. In Peru, I couldn’t get enough of the women who wear traditional Peruvian garments. The contrast of their bright colored clothing against the rolling hills was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen.



6. What was your favorite part of the entire Peru Collection process?
Traveling, in general--experiencing new tastes, new sounds, new colors, and most of all learning the stories of people—is my favorite part of the entire process. But while we loved the breathtaking scenery in Peru, it was our visit to the hogar (orphanage) that really made this trip. These girls come from really broken family situations and they were some of the most joy filled children I have ever been around. The girls brought me the one book that was in English from their library and wanted me to read it to them. We take for granted the gift of reading and education. Who am I to be able to read, to have been able to dream when I was young?  Imagination and the ability to dream is something I want to restore in the lives of girls. It’s important, and the women these girls become are going to shape our world. We have a responsibility to empower them.

7. What's your favorite piece from the Collection? Why?
I love wearing the “We Rise By Lifting Others” pendant  layered with the Long Angular Pendant—a simple yet bold pairing!

8. The Peru Collection in 4 words is: 
Cultural, Graceful, Intriguing, Bold

Love Thy Neighbor February 14 2014

It's true that in its purest form, love is more easily experienced than defined. Since it's Valentine’s Day, we wanted to post about a couple of organizations we've really fallen hard for, and also share how they've helped us embrace the meaning of love through the empowerment of girls. Love can be defined as “an intense feeling of deep affection,” but as a virtue, it’s much more than that. 

By working with Freedom Firm and Peruvian Hearts this past year, we’ve been able to witness “love thy neighbor” at its finest, watching these organizations dedicate their hearts to the strengthening of young girls and the betterment of their lives. Their passion to help others—to be kind and generous in the most unconditional way—is the true definition of love. That’s what creates change, and we’re honored to walk alongside them. 


Hogar de Ninas January 31 2014

The Andes mountains are, to say the least, spectacular. The air is crisp, the sky is blue (the bluest we’ve ever seen), and the open fields mesmerize you as you drive down the back roads between highland villages.

On our day trip to the town of Anta, we arrived at something even more spectacular—the beautiful, spacious home of Peruvian Heart’s Hogar de Ninas, a place where thirty orphaned girls are loved and cared for.

Peruvian Hearts has been the sole supporter of the Hogar since 2003, and for one day we felt so lucky to be a part of these girls’ lives. We got the chance to read books with them and play volleyball with them (losing our breath quickly from the altitude!). They showed us their bedrooms and classrooms, and the pride they held for where they lived and their joy for life was infectious.

Spending quality time with these girls reminded us about why we travel. For us, there’s nothing more rewarding than meeting others, hearing their stories, experiencing a culture different from our own, and being changed by it. 

 


Elephants January 24 2014

It’s no secret how much love we’ve got for elephants. From our block printing experience to the beautiful statues we came across during our trip in India, the elephant became a symbol that inspired our Elephant Pendant!

Highly regarded for their royalty, inner strength, and nobility, the stately animal is revered by many as the “power animal” of choice, but they also have a gentler nature. Full of intelligence, loyalty, and compassion, elephants are often teachers of gentleness and commitment. 

Of all these characteristics, we’ve pinpointed our favorite thing about them: young elephants are born into a community of love, and are dependent on their mothers until adulthood. When an elephant becomes a new mother, elder elephants support her and teach her to be nurturing and affectionate. When an elephant passes away, its family is known to grieve and shed tears.

That's love. That's community. That's what we call beauty on the outside AND beauty on the inside.


Impact Report January 17 2014

For the past few months, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Freedom Firm (a non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate child prostitution in India) in the hopes of restoring the lives of sex trafficking victims in India.

We’re happy to report that after 5 1/2 months we’ve donated a total of $3,600—an accomplishment that has provided 6 months of aftercare support for 6 girls (Asha, Maya, Leela, Kirtana, Karishma, and Rani)! Thanks to your help, these girls have now been cared for, counseled, educated, and trained with the tools and skills necessary to live a life free of prostitution!

With that said, we’ve got a couple more weeks to make an impact on more girls’ lives! As most of you know, 10% of every purchase has been donated to help these girls find healing, redemption, and restoration in Freedom Firm’s aftercare program.  However, thanks to a generous sponsor, 20% of every purchase from now until January 31st will be donated to Freedom Firm! All the more reason to shop this month!


A Week of Thanks November 27 2013


These past few days, we’ve been blessed to hear from the girls at Freedom Firm about what they are thankful for. We gathered all their words of gratitude in a collection called 10 Days of Thanks. In doing so, we couldn’t help but feel inspired by the ways Freedom Firm's aftercare program is having lasting impact on so many lives.  Their thanks for life and freedom--everyday things we often take for granted--stand out so beautifully. In that, we sit here embracing their thanks by sharing their stories and inspiring the hearts of those that gracefully walk beside them.

What are you thankful for this season? What thought, word, or action brings life to you? Here at Matterial Fix, we are thankful for the opportunity to follow our dreams, and for the amazing people who have allowed us to play a part in helping change the lives of others. This Thanksgiving, we are humbly thankful for new beginnings and hope.

Be sure to check out our 10 Days of Thanks project on Facebook! 


Taj Mahal November 18 2013

To most, the Taj Mahal is a beautiful piece of Persian and Indian architecture, with its gorgeous arches and clean, white marble. But what also makes it beautiful is its romantic history: a mausoleum built from 1632-1653 by Emperor Shah Jahan out of grief for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. A fine declaration that illustrates a story traditionally held as an inspiration for couples, everywhere.


When we visited the Taj Mahal, I was personally blown away by the amount of time it took to build the mausoleum—19 years—and all for his beloved wife. What also took my breath were the carvings and inlay work of the semi-precious stones scattered throughout the interior and exterior of the building. I could not believe that everything was done by hand. The design did so much in inspiring a lot of our own pieces!
Seeing the gorgeous building for the first time almost didn’t feel real.  And regardless of how many times I flip through pictures and remember the experience, it still doesn’t to this day! What a privilege.

Gemstone inlay on the exterior of the building.

Close-up shots of the beautiful detailing on the exterior, interior, and doors.



DIY Lace Candleholders November 01 2013


Photo via Style Me Pretty Blog 

With Halloween over, what’s a girl to do with those leftover candles? Prepare them for the next set of holiday festivities, of course! With Thanksgiving and Christmas slowly creeping, it’s time to refer to lace (a favorite design-element of ours in the India collection, as evidenced by our lace bangle and lace stacking rings)!

From this pretty white candleholder at Ikea, to these silver-laced darlings from World Market, our love for lace-inspired trinkets could not be more transparent. So this weekend, we thought we’d try this super easy DIY to recreate the look ourselves!

What we’ll need:

  1. Hot glue gun to secure the fabric
  2. Pretty lace from the fabric store (or an old shirt)
  3. Scissors to snip with
  4. Clear, cylindrical glass large (or small) enough to hold the candle. Try Mason jars for that shabby chic feel



Photos via Family Chic 

What to do:

  1. Take the candle holder and lay it down
  2. Wrap the lace around the holder using one of two options: cover the entire glass, or a portion of it for a luminescent vibe
  3. Once the lace is wrapped, place a strip of glue to secure the fabric onto the glass
  4. Cut off the excess fabric
  5. Place the candle inside

And there you have it! Glowing décor that will have your holiday guests mesmerized during a beautiful dinner party.

Check out our inspiration here! Style Me Pretty


Henna October 25 2013


(inspiration photos via Pinterest)

Along with our mini-obsession with block print (read all about that here), there’s another India-inspired design that still has us drooling: Henna! As evidenced by our Henna Statement Cuff, our design appreciation expands to symbolic pastures: a piece of art commonly used in the celebration of love (an important wedding ritual, actually)—so beautiful!

In India, I had the pleasure of getting my Henna done! What amazed me the most was how quickly the artist worked, and how the intricate detail of her art was so fluid and precise. What she drew was simply beautiful. 

Given our love affair with the painted adornment (some might even call it body jewelry!), we wanted to recreate the experience ourselves. Luckily, we stumbled upon a great DIY to try—something easy and fun to do in the confines of your own kitchen (and with a delicious cup of tea in hand!).

What you’ll need:

  1. Black tea (in a tea bag)
  2. Eucalyptus essential oil
  3. 1 cup of Henna Powder
  4. 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  5. 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  6. Icing bag with small decorating tip 

Directions:

  1. Conjure up a sophisticated water mixture: Boil 2 inches of water in a saucepan.  Take the pan off the heat and add in the black teabag. Let it mingle for several hours!
  2. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the mixture and allow it to infuse overnight. This helps the henna stick around for a long time!
  3. Prepare a bowl of henna powder and ground cloves. Keep it close!
  4. The next morning, heat your fancy water mixture to a warm temp, then slowly add it to your bowl of henna powder and ground cloves. As you pour, be sure to stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until you are given a thin paste (similar to the consistency of yogurt).
  5. Add in lemon juice, and then add a little more water mixture until it resembles the consistency of toothpaste; a thicker paste, essentially!
  6. Transfer the paste into an icing bag fitted with the smallest decorating tip.  This will ensure for a smooth and prices application!
  7. Clean the area of skin that will be painted and rub a little eucalyptus oil over it.  This will extend the life of your art.
  8. Paint on the Henna in a design you love! We’re big fans of florals and paisleys!
  9. Let the design dry for half an hour, or until the paint starts to crumble off.
  10. Wait a couple more hours before you wash off the remaining paste!

And there you have it! Henna art to last, from a few days to a couple of weeks! (TIP: if you keep the area moisturized, it will last longer. So lotion up!).

Check out the original DIY here.


DIY: Block Print Napkins October 11 2013

It’s no secret how much we love the block print design.  From our Henna Statement Cuff (https://matterialfix.com/collections/india/products/floral-stud-earrings) and Floral Stud Earrings (https://matterialfix.com/collections/india/products/floral-stud-earrings), it’s pretty evident how much the cultural piece inspired our India collection!


But our love for the design extends past the pretty lines. Instead, it stems from our appreciation of India’s finest craftsmen, and the unique intricacies they carve out in each block of wood (read up on the process here: http://www.matterialfix.com/blogs/travel-log/8295319-block-printing). We are still in awe of the artistry. 

With that, I wanted to share a fun DIY we found (we’ve been in search for ways to recreate the block print look)! So let’s sit down, uncork a glass of wine, and create a block-print inspired napkin of our own!

What you’ll need:

1. Cork (see, the wine came in handy!)

2. Pen (to sketch designs with, my dear)

3. Rubber carving tool (or X-Acto Knife if you’ve got one!)

4. Stamp pad in various colors (the more colors, the better)

5. Plain pieces of fabric napkins (shades of white and tan work best)

(DIY Photos via http://sketch42blog.com/2013/08/diy-how-to-make-block-print-napkins/)

How to:

1. Take your cork and cut it 2/3 of the way down.  This will create a flat, rectangular surface to draw out your design.

2. Using the pen, draw a fun design on your cork. TIP: The easiest patterns involve lines, while the hardest involve carves! But don’t worry too much about the design—anything will look great in the end. 

3. Using your rubber carving tool or X-Acto knife, carve out your design. Note: what you carve out is negative space; what’s left on the cork will be the print.

4. Test out your cork design on a piece of paper. Keep carving until you’re happy with the design!

5. When finished, press your cork onto an ink pad (don’t use paint; the design will smear), and imprint it onto your plain fabric (side-by-side’s our fave).

6. Let dry!

And there you have it: a creative piece of India for your home. Enjoy! 

Check out the original DIY here: http://sketch42blog.com/2013/08/diy-how-to-make-block-print-napkins/

 


Iced Chai October 04 2013

In a previous post (http://www.matterialfix.com/blogs/travel-log/8295301-culture), we talked a little about our spice market experience, and how our time there kicked our senses into overdrive. The memory of vibrant colors and delicious scents still surprises me—it was that amazing!
 
With the weekend looking like a total scorcher, we wanted to revisit our favorite spice concoction (one we fell in deeper love with in India). Because while summer warmth still lingers, and little pockets of cool, fall air tease, it’s the combination of both that has us craving the cozy delicacy (cooled down a couple notches, of course) of chai. The perfect summer-into-fall beverage!


(photo via http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/2011/06/working-with-what-you-have-iced-chai-tea-latte.html)

How do we remedy this craving? By creating a batch of our own! Check out this easy recipe we stumbled upon:

What you’ll need:
8 chai tea bags
1 cup whole milk (or soy if you prefer!)
1/3 cup honey
Ice cubes
4 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan
  2. Remove from the heat and add in the tea bags
  3. Let tea bags steep for 5 minutes
  4. Remove the bags before stirring in the milk and honey
  5. Chill in a pitcher for at least 1 hour 
  6. Serve over ice!  
And voila, your very own serving of Chai Iced Tea Latte (we love pouring ours into a Mason jar, and topping it off with a fun straw). Now go forth, share, and enjoy!

The Sari September 19 2013

I'm still amazed by how lucky we were to get “wrapped up” in the beauty of India, and this is especially true of our experience with Saris. From thread dying to looming to picking out a favorite design to wear as my own, we saw it all. We watched local women in their own homes make Saris from scratch through the use of looms! We rummaged through fabrics in a store, surrounded by more colors and textures than we could imagine. And at the end of it all, I was taught how to slip into a Sari of my own, a gorgeous piece of art I treasure to this very day! 

So, I thought it would be fun to give you all a little peek into how to tie and wear a Sari on your own.  Putting one on can be tricky (especially for us newbies), but with a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to slip one on like a pro. Here's a great video via Martha Stewart. Enjoy!


 


A Matterial Fix Snapshot September 12 2013

Sharing some of our favorite Matterial Fix moments from our first month! From shipping out orders to little bouts of design inspiration (plus mini-experiences in between), our August was quite the whirlwind. A month-long of firsts that get us super excited for the future. With that, we wanted to say thank you-- thank you for your kind words, your inspiring thoughts, and your awesome support that keeps us going! Without you, none of this would be possible!
Wishing you all an amazing rest of the week. :) Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@matterialfix) to see what we're up to next!

Harvest India July 25 2013

Not too long ago, we found ourselves traveling to India to serve with Harvest India (www.harvestindia.org), a great organization dedicated to providing shelter, health, and education to those in need. Right away, we were inspired by how much they give and by how boldly they share God’s love with the people they care for. On a day spent at Harvest India’s girls’ college, our eyes were opened to the benefit of investing in the lives of girls. We learned that educated and empowered girls could decrease poverty in India (which, amazingly, is also true of girls all over the world). Inspired by our new awareness, a seed was planted…a seed that would eventually form into a jewelry brand (cue Matterial Fix) that walks alongside nonprofits in their mission to empower girls. With this inspired lens, our journey through India began.


Block Printing July 06 2013

I fell in love with India for a lot of reasons, but (moment of truth) our time at the block-printing factory was a definite highlight! The moment I saw their vast collection of crafted blocks, I was just flooded with inspiration. I could have sat for hours  watching the artisans create blocks from nothing but the work of their hands and the brilliance of their imaginations. They start off by carving relief patterns into a piece of wood, where the areas to “show negative” on the textile are cut away with a knife or chisel. This leaves the image to show in ink at the original surface level. Once the block is cut, it’s dipped in ink, and then firmly pressed onto a piece of cloth to make the image. It’s such an amazing work of art—so breathtaking!


Girls' Education July 05 2013

The cuteness was almost unbearable: girls in matching uniforms and braided ponytails, laughter shrieking from the playground, vibrant songs (kind of like skipping rhymes) sung to the clanking of sticks. To top all that off, their eagerness to share about their dreams to be teachers, nurses, and police officers (plus a few future presidents here and there) was really inspiring! We learned that girls’ education in India is vital in improving the country’s economy. Sadly, cultural mindsets prevent many girls from staying in school. After primary school, only 35% of girls enroll in secondary school, and many drop out before college. However, we believe that these girls, given the chance to stay in school, would improve their lives at home and in their community in significant ways.


Culture July 03 2013

 

Have you ever taken a deep breath inside a spice cabinet? Well, technically, I haven’t either, but our experience in an Indian spice market felt just about the same.  Spice markets in India are a definite must see (or should I say must smell)! And if you like Chai, then you know you’re in the right place. But that’s just one of the oh-so-many cultural experiences one would hope to have in India. Getting lost in open-air markets, crossing crowded streets in a rickshaw, or even seeing cows in the middle of a busy city are day-to-day happenings! Everywhere we went, inspiration came knocking—from the vibrant colors to the cultural scenery, I was constantly floored by the sensory experience one can only find in India!


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