Unique Batik Blog

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All that glitters is often more than gold

IMG_0656What is it about shiny, sparkling things that turn some of us into magpies? We can’t help but reach for the item (or click on it, as the case may be). Some of us go beyond magpie and become like Gollum, the character first introduced in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit that obsessively loved his “precious” gold ring. A special gemstone, precious or just semi-precious, can become very dear to us.

It’s rarity, purity and hardness that determine just how precious a gemstone is. Poor amethyst was once a precious gem. Then a huge mine of amethyst was discovered in South America, soon to be followed by several more mine discoveries and, just like that, what has been called “extravagance in violet,” was relegated to “semi-“ status.

Since ancient times, gemstones have been purported to possess mystical powers or to draw or deflect certain energies. In the case of amethyst, its name comes from the ancient Greek belief that it protected its owner from drunkenness. In Greek “a” means not and “methystos” means intoxicated.

IMG_4094Little research exists that explains why gemstones and crystals have meaning (like an amethyst keeping its owner from drunkenness). It’s likely that the power of suggestion played a significant role. Alchemists and mystical practitioners were quite often storytellers that understood an enthralling story often equaled higher revenues or even long term patronage. The very best storytellers could convince customers that a gemstone offered protection, brought good luck or even promoted fertility. Add in the law of attraction (touching and gazing at the stone while thinking of its supposed mystical properties) and self-fulfilling prophecy and before you know it, a stone has a reputation.

One of the shiny objects Unique Batik customers are attracted to is the Nepalese Bead Bracelet from Thailand. There are seven versions of the three-strand combination of brass beads, semi-precious stones and a large Nepalese cylinder or bicone bead.

FullSizeRenderOur Temple Bracelet, also from Thailand combines faceted semi-precious stones or glass beads with brass beads and a coin and loop closures. The Temple bracelet may feature amethyst, fluorite, jade, jasper, ruby in zoisite, onyx, turquoise, unakite or quartz.

Of the semi-precious stones found in the Temple Bracelet, ruby in zoisite is one of the most interesting. It’s what’s known as a combination crystal because it contains small ruby crystals in zoisite, which is known for hosting a variety of precious gem crystals. Ruby in zoisite is believed to prevent the person wearing it from over-reacting in challenging situations, to prevent mood swings and to convert negative energy into positive energy.

The Om Bracelet goes one step further than most jewelry. It combines semi-precious stones with a large Tibetan om bead – a bead featuring the om symbol. When spoken, om is considered one of the most sacred sounds. It is often called the god sound because it can be found in a variety of religions and beliefs.

The natural attraction to glitter doesn’t have to be denied. Whether mystical properties are embedded in a gem or not, the joy you feel when gazing at something attractive is real.

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Keeping elephants close

As elephants’ (and the humans that love them) fight for survival in the wild and struggle against inhumane treatment in ellie (2)captivity gains more attention, it’s not surprising that images of elephants are finding their way on more  and more products.

Descendents of the mastodons and wooly mammoths that once roamed almost the entire planet, elephants are playful and lively as children, rambunctious and rebellious as adolescents, caring mates, nurturing parents and wise elders. They’re among the most social animals and they mourn, they are humorous, they are protective and, under the best conditions, they can live to around 70 years old.

The novelty of the largest land mammal’s size and a trunk that serves in a similar capacity as a human’s hand offer an explanation why elephant images have been popular throughout human history. The most exalted elephant image of all, of course, is Ganesh, the Hindu elephant-headed god of wisdom and learning.

jippy elephantMost collectors of decorative elephants search for elephants with their trunks up, which is considered good luck. The idea is that the elephant’s trunk is showering you with good fortune. Go a little further into the concept of elephants and luck and you’ll find that an elephant figure or picture should face the door to welcome luck into the home. Another version of that custom has a door-facing elephant standing strong and firm against bad luck. In effect, the elephant guards the home against misfortune.

Elephants on jewelry, like our Jippy Elephant bracelet and our Ellie bangle, accessorize outfits with an exotic flair. Just as fun, but a little bigger and bolder is our striped elephant backpack that is perfectly sized for toddlers and preschoolers, but is also popular with teenagers and college students.

elephant charm1If you want to go beyond adorning yourself with elephant imagery, Chiang Mai, Thailand, is known for their elephant camps where visitors can interact with an elephant and its mahout, a human who devotes his or her life to a single elephant. Guidelines for finding the most ethical camps are easy to find online. Because elephants become severely depressed when they’re kept from other elephants and otherwise mistreated, elephant devotees should put forth the extra effort to find and patronize only the most ethical camps. The reward is a life-changing experience as you interact with content elephants that are controlled only with voice commands (not physical punishment) and that are not forced to perform physically harmful tricks for entertainment.

Elephants are also known for their empathy and the fact that female elephants have best friends. So the desire to wear or even spend time with actual elephants is seen as an offshoot of a natural need to connect with others. Keeping elephant decorations around your house is also a way to communicate a warm welcome to guests.


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10 Reasons Why You Should Buy Fair Trade

  1. We sometimes don’t take into account the wages and working conditions of farmers and producers in foreign countries, but buying fair trade products ensures that the goods that you are purchasing come from workers who are being taken care of. Fair trade products are guaranteed to come from healthy and safe working environments where farmers and artisans always receive a fair wage, and also have a voice in how their workplace operates. As a consumer, you gain peace of mind from knowing that your products are made with care, and in environments that are fair.
  1. Fair trade is hands-down better for our environment. That is because fair trade only supports sustainable practices that have less of a footprint on our environment. In an age where our planet is taking a serious beating, it’s good to know that the products that you buy do not in any way contribute to the damage.
  1. When you buy fair trade you can be guaranteed that you’re only getting high quality goods. This is because fair trade artisans take immense pride in their work, and all crafts are handmade. Because of the care in which each product is crafted, you will see that there is a great deal of attention payed to detail, and this leads to superior, higher-quality products that you can treasure. If you’re someone who is used to factory-made products, then switching to fair trade goods is going to be a great pleasure for you.
  1. Fair trade, of course, isn’t just for finely crafted jewelry, bags, and clothing. Fair trade foods are also available, and that means better tasting food. The fair trade farmers are involved and invested in the entire farming process. This means that crops are grown in smaller quantities, but the quality is superior. Give fair trade food and coffee a try for a fresher and tastier experience at your table.
  1. Fair trade is safe, and that means safer working environments, safer farms, and safer artistic expression. In terms of farming, systems are set up to improve soil fertility and therefore preserve the valuable ecosystem. This limits the use of harmful agrochemicals and therefore protects the safety of the farmers. The same goes for safer environments for crafters and artisans. When the workers are safe and protected, the products that they produce are higher in quality, and better for our planet.
  1. Fair trade is all about supporting local communities, and giving them the chance to thrive. By use of cooperative structures, artisans and small farmers are able to invest their fair trade earnings into their communities and villages, and this will ultimately improve housing, health care, and school systems. When fair trade workers know that their earnings are going directly to their families and communities in this way, it is incentive for them to work even better at crafting the products and food that they provide. This acts as a kind of cycle of quality, improvement, and creativity.
  1. Fair trade is dedicated to creating direct partnerships between buyers and producers. Because of this partnership, everyone involved knows that they are buying and selling quality products to people that they trust. This ultimately leads to a sustainable and reliable way for artisans, farmers, and their communities to improve their livelihood and produce products that they care about.
  1. Fair trade is a remarkable way to connect buyers with other cultures. The unique fair trade products on the market are specific to the places they came from and the people who made them. Artisans are involved in the entire process from start to finish, and their products reflect their people, and the cultures that they come from. Because of this authenticity, buyers are able to purchase unique products that have a story behind them. In fact, each piece of jewelry, clothing, accessory, or other fair trade item has a spirit and life that is being expressed by a specific cultural heritage.
  1. Fair trade fosters stable local economies. This is because fair trade gives farmers and artisans control over their own future; allowing them to build their own businesses instead of working with a middle man. Because the profits of their labors stay in their communities, they can also bring this profit back into their businesses, giving them the power to expand over time. Having this kind of control over their work is incredibly self-empowering, giving fair trade workers new hope for their personal financial wellbeing and the wellbeing of their communities.
  1. When you buy fair trade products, you know that what you’re buying really matters. Choosing fair trade means you’re accessing the highest quality products and also making a difference in the lives of others. Artisans and farmers are experiencing better lives by being in the fair trade program, and not only do you enjoy the fruits of their labor, you also know that your purchase contributes to the betterment of their lives and communities.

In conclusion, purchasing products that are fair trade certified can help to reduce poverty, safeguard humane working conditions, and encourage environmentally friendly production methods. When you purchase fair trade products here at Unique Batik, you can be guaranteed that all our producers adhere to fair trade standards, and we only supply our customers with the most unique, high-quality, and exquisite goods from around the world.

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