Oshiwa Designs: Gorgeous Handcarved Printing Stamps
For months now, Anita Brandt of Oshiwa Designs and I have been emailing back and forth, ironing out details of how Rayela Art will become the U.S. distributor for Oshiwa. Finally, the first shipment of stamps has arrived and we begin this relationship which will hopefully extend into a long, successful future.
The Oshiwa Design Team, Namibia
Oshiwa was started in 1994 by Anita in Namibia, Africa. The small fair trade group supports a team of carvers and support staff. They have had success at marketing both the stamps and finished textiles that used the stamps in their local markets, but want to expand to a larger audience. Difficulties in shipping out of Africa has made the United States a natural target audience. Anita and I met through our Fiber Focus Group and have had an easy time connecting online as we share many common interests. The logistics of how this will all work out are still daunting, especially on the banking end. It seems incredible that in this day and age there should be so many obstacles towards having a business relationship between countries. Africa, especially, has even more challenges as Pay Pal still does not operate in many countries there. We will figure it out, with the goal of getting back as much income to the Oshiwa group as possible.
Oshiwa carvers working on the textile stamps.
Phase 1 of our marketing program is to make the stamps available to the public through my website, Rayela Art. We now have stamp sets and individual designs available on this page. Prices have been figured out to fit a formula: $1.25 per square inch. We are hoping that this will be enough to cover Oshiwa's costs while still maintaining an affordable price point for buyers. As most of our customer base will be artists who will use the stamps on fabric, paper or clay, we know that most of them are also struggling to make ends meet. Smaller stamps seem comparable to the prices I have had on the vintage Afghan stamps I have been selling, but larger pieces do seem quite pricey. One way to look at it though is that these are tools that have a lifetime of use ahead of them. And, when the stamps are not in use, they could be hung on the wall as art work. One can easily attach a picture hanger on the back for quick display. In fact, the stamps are art. The carvers refuse to make repeat designs (which would make my task a lot easier!) as they do not want to get bored with their work. They invent animals that have never roamed in Africa or elsewhere and their geometric variations are endless.
An Oshiwa textile stamp that has had some use.
In time, we will also look at carrying some of Oshiwa's finished products. They also make beautiful carved wooden frames, similar to the stamps. And, they have a home interiors line of pillows and accessories that have used the stamps in the fabric designs.
Oshiwa Designs Pillow Covers
Oshiwa Designs Table Runner
Oshiwa Designs Exhibit in Namibia
Aren't they just beautiful? Can you see it in your mind's eye? How would you use the stamps?
After I finish sorting through and organizing the current batch, the stamps that have not sold through my website will go to Etsy. Oshiwa will have its own store there. Right now, the selection on my site is 10% off with free shipping on orders over $100. International orders orders over $100 will get a $10 discount off of shipping.
View and purchase the stamps on Rayela Art.
Visit Oshiwa Designs for more information on the group and for instructions on use and care of the stamps.