In founding Antillean I have finally indulged a long-held wish of mine to produce products that will see homes enveloped in the warmth and magic of the Caribbean, products that will create a sense of Caribbean chic and Caribbean living, wherever in the world someone’s home may be.
In fact, Antillean has been a long time coming for me, and, of course I have gargantuan dreams for my little company. I mean, which mother does not look down at her child and not see her, or him, going out into the world and making a place for themselves? Which mother does not see her little one moving from a seed to a sapling and then a gigantic many-leaved tree? But in the meantime, I am starting with manageable goals for my little one. A baby after-all learns to creep before she walks. And it is the same with Antillean.
A few years ago, a friend of mine came to see me in Kingston (Jamaica) when I was home for a visit. He took along with him a gift for me. He was driving by a sign painter on the side of the road whose signs were so arresting that they caught my artist friend’s eyes. One of those signs was the gift he brought me, a Jamaican proverb in vibrant red, blue, yellow and black colors, “Rain Ah Fall But Dutty Still Tuff.” Meaning, the earth is still hard despite the falling rain. Meaning there are difficulties even in abundance. I immediately fell in love with the hand painted sign on recovered metals and ordered more. Before long I found myself working with the sign-painter, Mr. Kemel Rankine, to broaden the range of his paintings and he would subsequently deliver to me, in addition to proverbs and tall handsome Jamaican police officers, paintings of local fruits and flowers that I simply adore. I hope that you will browse and subsequently purchase some of these wonderful paintings.
Mats & Tapestries
Speaking of signs, one of the signs of good ‘broughtupcy’ for particularly girls in the Caribbean is our facility to manipulate textiles. We share this “broughtupcy” in fact with many other women from around the world. But I remain fascinated with the way that this ‘broughtupcy’ is expressed in the Caribbean. There is, of course, our love of the many-colored madras cloth, which harkens back to the multiracial identity of the various islands of the Caribbean. The madras cloth probably originated in India, but has now become idiomatic of Caribbean cultural expression and is often used for head dress and in national costumes. Then there are the handmade rugs from my childhood, where women would be “turning their hands to make fashion” out of small seemingly useless bits and pieces of cloth. As one of the makers of these mats, Same Mae “Mama Laine” Dunkley notes, her mats and tapestries are part of a tradition in which people, especially women, have made beauty out of little and nothing.
shan·ty (shàn¹tê) noun
A roughly built, often ramshackle cabin; a shack.
Our hand-made wooden shanties are the perfect pieces to add that touch of Caribbean flavor to your home. The shanty has a long history as part of Jamaican vernacular architecture. The wooden ramshackle shanty style was developed by the enslaved, indentured and tenant farmers who came or were brought to the island. Many of these houses have overhanging porch roofs, verandas, and interconnecting beams supporting the main roof of the house. Roofs were often made of wooden shingles. Altogether, these houses are graceful particularly when painted in lively colors. Eddie Harris, who makes the shanties for us, comes from a long line of carpenters and crafts men in Jamaica.
Authentic Jamaican Embroidery
From Antillean, customers can purchase exquisite handmade embroidery that focuses on the fruits, flowers, landscape, and people of the Caribbean. We work with a group of roughly twenty-five women who make authentic Jamaican embroidery, crochet and hardanga works. Many of the women in the group belonged to the famed Allsides Embroiderers that had a long and distinguished history on the island of Jamaica. The Women of St. Mary utilizes the Allsides model whereby authentic Jamaican handcrafts are seen as a means of economic uplift for rural women. The work of the women is simply gorgeous and can be found in homes all over the world.
Yes, we are starting small at Antillean, but we hope to become big and strong. We hope to become a gigantic tree, and with your help in purchasing our products, we can get there. We look forward to your support.
Until next time,