Our collection with Malaika pays homage to Lapis Lazuli's long history of being traded from the mountains of Afghanistan to the palaces of Egypt. The scarceness of Lapis - and the purity of its natural blue - made Lapis a priceless commodity right up until the 19th century. The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with it; powdering it into eye shadow for Cleopatra, and using it to decorate the funeral masks of Pharoahs.
This collection combines two traditional techniques: silkscreen printing & ajour embroidery. The Lapis tumbler stain is first drawn, the vibrant blue pigment is mixed, a wooden frame is crafted and finally the design is hand printed using a silk screen onto the linen. The pieces are finished with an elaborate ajour stitch border. It is meticulous work which involves cutting and pulling individual threads to create intricate patterns.
Each single place mat takes 6 hours of work to the artisans at Malaika's atelier in Cairo. As well as providing employment, Malaika’s embroidery school trains hundreds of people in vulnerable positions, providing them with the skills required to be self-employed and work from home on commissions for Malaika.