Handmade Jewelry & Clothing

Using traditional handmade techniques to fashion a better world

Mata Traders isn’t just about a flattering fit. We celebrate the talents and culture of the individuals who create our products. When factory-made textiles became prevalent many years ago, printers and weavers in India and Nepal were forced to turn to more menial forms of work to support their families, leaving artisan skills that were passed down for generations to be lost. In a time of globalization and fast-paced technology, we’re proud to support the groups of traditional fabric producers and jewelry makers who remain active today, keeping the art of handmade alive. Artisans utilizing techniques like hand embroidery, block printing, jewelry making, and screen printing have made Mata Traders the brand it is today.

Block Printing

When it comes to traditional techniques, none are as fascinating as block printing, an art form that has been practiced in India since the 12th century. Our designs are traced onto and then carved from wooden blocks, called “bunta.” When printing, large pieces of fabric are fixed to a tabletop. The carved blocks are then dipped into colorful dyes, stamped on the fabric, and the process continues for the entire sheet of fabric, forming an intricate pattern. Block prints can be simple or can involve many layers of printing for each color. A special part of block printed fabrics is their occasional small imperfections – very much a part of the handmade process.

Screen Printing

Though certainly popularized in recent years in the U.S., screen printing has been in India for centuries. While some of the cooperatives do their own screen printing, others use local producers, and they all practice the same general technique – a screen is burned with a design, fabric is pinned down to a tabletop, ink is pushed through the screen with a squeegee to transfer the design onto the fabric, and the fabric is left outside to dry. Often the process takes two people, one who handles the printing and one who assists in moving the screen and placing it in the appropriate place. Screen printed fabric, just like block printed, can sometimes contain small mistakes or stray spots, making each garment truly one of a kind.

Hand Embroidery

If you’ve ever looked at the embroidery on our dresses, you know the level of attention and detail that goes into each garment. Any pieces with embroidery come from our most traditional artisan group – the women can embroider from their homes and even get together in sewing circles within their communities! Without many possibilities for employment in their small villages, and often with children at home, this is a great opportunity for the women to earn an income and support their families.

Jewelry Making

In India, jewelry making has long been a part of the unregulated craft sector, and unfortunately, is notorious for the use of child labor and unfair labor practices. By partnering with a fair trade producer group, we can ensure that no children are involved in the making of our jewelry and that the artisans are paid upfront and fairly. To learn more about the benefits of fair trade jewelry, read this post.

We use a variety of techniques and materials to create our jewelry collections. The metal in our jewelry is brass – if it appears to be silver or gold, it’s been electroplated. The shapes are either die-cut or casted with a mold, and wood and bone components are mostly cut by hand. Once all the components have been formed, they’re assembled by hand into necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings.

A Handmade Dress