Sunday, 19 December 2010

A Traditional English Woodturner

Today's blog entry is an opportunity for me to introduce you to some beautiful household items crafted in South Devon from British trees.

Mark Weston-Lewis took over Woodturners Cottage in 2006 and currently produces in excess of 1000 handcrafted woodturnings each year in addition to a number of commissioned sculptures in timber or stone for outdoor spaces. Woodturners Cottage and its workshop has been a woodturnery and fine furniture establishment since the 1930's. Mark's dedication and skill are keeping this tradition alive and very well with his blend of traditional and contemporary designs lovingly finished off to a very high standard. 

 He sells most of his work in galleries throughout Devon and Cornwall plus a number of craft fairs in South West England. It was through Greenwich Market that we had the pleasure of meeting Mark and seeing his work. He can be found at the market at least a couple of weekends a month and hopefully more often in the future. The logistics of being based in South Devon and exhibiting his work in person at Greenwich Market is a balancing act, especially when he has production to slot into his busy schedule.

All timbers used are from sustainable sources and 98% are native British trees felled in the Dartmoor and South Devon area. For every 20 pieces made, a young tree is planted.

Finishes applied are either beeswax and vegetable oil which can be wiped clean and occasionally revived with a fresh coating of vegetable oil or six coats of finishing oil which dries to a hard surface that can be wiped clean. Both are food safe. A few decorative pieces are just beeswaxed and polished.

Commissions for woodturning projects or garden sculptures in timber or stone are welcomed. If you wish to view a fine selection of Mark's work and meet the artist in person, then a trip to Greenwich Market should be on your list of things to do. Due to the amount of time required for production, Mark can't guarantee to be exhibiting in Greenwich every weekend. Please feel free to contact Mark about his work or dates exhibiting on the following phone number.

Tel : 01548 830405
Mobile : 0779 2803299

Monday, 13 December 2010

Xmas At Greenwich Craft Market

If you haven't been down to Greenwich Craft Market recently, It may be worth the effort to brave the cold weather and pop down. The Christmas lights are up and spiced mulled wine available.

Apart from Sorazora, you will find so many stalls selling handcrafted products ranging from woodcraft to candles and plant pot hangers. The Artists corner can be found each weekend and two artists deserving a special mention are Charles Borrell and John Lynch, who both provide all that one could want in a landscape.

It is getting cold out, but at least Greenwich market's roof offers protection from our typically British weather. I would recommend coming on an empty stomach as there is a wide selection of international cuisine waiting for you to discover. This coming weekend will be the last shopping weekend before Christmas and your last chance to pick up some truly individual gift items.

Sorazora will definitely be displaying our products over the weekend and hope to be present on Thursday and Friday also, weather permitting, of course! I would like to use this blog as an opportunity to say a big hello and thank you to a customer named Chiara, pictured below, and we wish her a safe trip back to Italy for Christmas. We look forward to meeting again in the new year.

Urban Day Retreat 11 December 2010

An invitation to display our products at a yoga studio's open day was a first for Sorazora, and a event that we greatly enjoyed.

Thanks to the generosity of the organisers of The Radiant Hand, we were not only privileged to meet many good people, but also observe three specialists of different styles and practices.
Although we didn't participate in the classes themselves, we are now starting to understand the benefits and have a little more understanding of yoga, tai-chi and the healing arts.
The open day was held in Clapham and open for both their students and new-comers.

Once again, I would like to thank all the staff at The Radiant Hand for their hospitality and to all the participants who came to our stall and showed interest in organic natural fibres and natural dyes. (The home made dhal lunch served at the UDR was absolutely delicious and I hear the lasagne and quiche were great too!) 

If you are interested in learning about yoga or tai-chi, or perhaps wish to expand deeper your experiences in these fields, I would recommend you to have a look at their website for a lot more information.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Urban Day Retreat

This coming Saturday (11th December) Sorazora will be exhibiting a small selection of our products at an event called Urban Day Retreat to be held in Clapham, London.
The Urban Day Retreat is a holistic day retreat created and organised by The Radiant Hand, which takes place several times a year at different venues in London.

Its aims are to take all who come, on a journey of relaxation, creativity and inspiration. The UDR showcases different instructors and different styles of healing arts from yoga, tai-chi and chi-gong, giving you a glimpse of many aspects of spirituality, healing and other tools of empowerment for you to explore.

The Urban Day Retreat is a day for you to forget about the stress and worries from the daily grind and helps you to focus, relax and unwind.

The UDR offers a variety of workshops from the high calibre teachers that we ask to come and teach on the day, who help us to explore our yoga, tai-chi, chi-gong, healing and spirituality deeper, helping all students to create deeper insights and healing for themselves.

We know that many people are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of ancient philosophies and practices. One of the aims at The Radiant Hand is to create an awareness, of some of the ancient arts and knowledge, and what benefits (mental, physical and/or spiritual) using or practising them can achieve for oneself.

The UDR is open to everyone, regardless of your experience. We have had complete novices, who have never practised yoga or any of the healing arts, come to the retreat and after the day, have been inspired to find a practice for themselves. It's a wonderful day of healing for everyone!

To book your place or simply to find out more about the UDR, please call 020 8682 5186 or email

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

John Lynch's Landscapes

From all the artists exhibiting their work at Greenwich Market, there are two particular artists whose work really impresses me. Charles Borrell, whose work was featured in a blog dated Aug 3rd, and John Lynch.

I wish to use this blog entry to introduce you to John's work. The first piece of his work that I ever saw was a very atmospheric landscape. The style was very loose and appeared to be made up of a combination of calculated and swift brush strokes, resulting in a British countryside view over fields, copses and fences. Naturally, that painting has long been sold and no doubt found itself a worthy wallspace within a private collection. I didn't, at that time, have the opportunity to ask John about the location of the painting's scene, but in my mind it symbolised the Great British countryside.

All of the paintings that I have seen of Johns have a common theme of what I can only best describe as a relationship between that which lies above and below the horizon. English weather is moody at best and it is this fact which I find captured so perfectly.

John throws himself at not only British landscapes, but also London cityscapes and seascapes featuring stranded boats on mudflats at lowtide. These are all scenes that I have grown up amongst and are for me distinctly English. I think it is fair to say that the reality of these scapes are taken for granted, but when confronted with a large acrylic on canvas, John's work brings out not only my appreciation of his skill, but also my new found appreciation of England's horizons. If I were ever to set up home abroad, I truly believe one of John's paintings would have to come too. A way of taking a piece of England with me.

A sample of John's work is contained within his webpage, also through which he can be contacted. If you are interested in his work, I can recommend nothing better than getting down to Greenwich Market on a weekend and viewing the paintings first hand, this would also give you the pleasure of meeting the artist in person. To view his webpage, please click here!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Green Glasss Tokyo

Today's product upload brings another three glass pendants crafted by Green Glass Tokyo.

Each pendant has been produced purely from coloured glass and attached to a fully adjustable ornate macrame cord. These cords are made from naturally dyed and undyed hemp often with a strong wax coated rayon core.

These are the latest three necklaces to be added to the selection available through Sorazora. More will be added in due course, so please do keep checking. All future uploads of the collaboration between Green Glass Tokyo and Atslan will be announced within these blog pages and also on Twitter. If you aren't already following Sorazora on Twitter, please follow the Twitter link on our homepage which can be found through the link below.

PinoKuri Wedding Party

A wedding party is not a subject that would normally find its way onto our blog, but this was no usual wedding party!

Held in the mountains of Chichibu in the corner of Japan's Saitama prefecture on the 6th of November. Masaya (of Green Glass Tokyo) celebrated his marriage to Hiromi (of Pinokoya) in style. Neither of them had a hand in the preparations as everything was a closely guarded secret. They only knew where they had to be and at what time.

We arrived on the Friday to get started on preparations. It was a party where all of their friends had a part to play ranging from DJ, chef, barman, master of ceremony, entertainers, florist, musicians and much more. The official photographer was none other than Hitoshi Machida of Planet Magic. My role was to be a religious sort to perform mock vows at the start of the day (pictured below).

The large hall was transformed by the efforts of many throughout the day. The head table positioned at the end of the virgin road was beautifully decorated with flowers (see photo below)

 Masaya (of Nouga Glassworks) was the DJ, a role he has taken at many friends' weddings including my own. Masaya's main vocation is maker of fine glass pendants and accessories and whose work we hope to showcase within Sorazora's website in the near future.
Pictured below, Masaya checking that the sound system is up and running and supplied with enough power.

 Makoto-san (purveyor of all things djembe at Cheerful Mark) led a parade with a sealed djembe containing sake. The happy couple had to break their way into it before the sake was shared by all.

This wedding party was an informal, but heartfelt affair as Masaya and Hiromi had officially tied the knot a week earlier with a traditional Shinto service. The fact that this party was organised by many friends made it quite special. The effort and ideas came from many corners to create a party unlike any other. Cottages surrounding the great hall were rented out to accomodate the guests until midday the next day.

We at Sorazora would like to thank Masaya and Hiromi for allowing us to be part of the celebrations and we wish them all the best for the future. My recent two week trip to Japan was great for catching up with everyone and also discussing glass pendants with Masaya. To view the full range of pendants on offer at Sorazora, please click on this link.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Green Glasss Tokyo

Today's product upload are these three necklaces. The pendants are crafted by Masaya Kuribayashi of Green Glass Tokyo and the macrame hemp cords have made by Nathan Schreiber of Atslan.

Each pendant has been produced purely from coloured glass and attached to a fully adjustable ornate macrame cord. These cords are made from naturally dyed and undyed hemp often with a strong wax coated rayon core.

These are the latest three necklaces to be added to the selection available through Sorazora. More will be added in due course, so please do keep checking. All future uploads of the collaboration between Green Glass Tokyo and Atslan will be announced within these blog pages and also on Twitter. If you aren't already following Sorazora on Twitter, please follow the Twitter link on our homepage which can be found through the link below.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Hitoshi Machida's Planet Magic

Today's blog is dedicated to introducing a Japanese photographer to the UK. Hitoshi Machida has travelled widely and will continue to do so in search of beautiful scenery to photograph. His work is not just limited to scenery as he also enjoys working with portraits. Entitled Planet Magic, his collection of images take us to places that most of us can only dream about.

Countries of particular interest to Hitoshi are India, Madagascar and the Seychelles. A theme of pure nature runs through all of his work providing us with amazing timeless images that one would never grow tired from viewing.

Hitoshi's website showcases his skill at capturing nature at its most beautiful and is easy to navigate for non-Japanese as much of it is in English. To view the website, please visit

Hitoshi Machida has enjoyed exhibitions in Japan, including a photo exhibition at the Embassy for Madagascar, but has yet to exhibit here in the UK. All enquiries regarding his work are welcome via email to

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Earth Garden Tokyo 2010

The weekend of the 23rd and 24th saw Earth Garden Tokyo being held in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park.
Yoyogi Park (pictured below) is one of the largest parks in Tokyo located adjacent to Harajuku Station and Meiji Shrine in Shibuya. Earth Garden (link in Japanese only) is held here three times during the course of the year, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Earth Garden Winter is held in a large building in another part of the city. There are many other weekend festivals held within the park making it a popular place to hang out during the Summer months.
Before coming to the UK for the festival season of 2009, Yoyogi Park was a firm favourite of ours. This year AP happy zakka life (the predecessor to Sorazora) was again there. The festival season in Japan lasts about two months longer than that of the UK with festivals happily continuing through October.
The products found at the AP stall are essentially the same as Sorazora, although there are slight differences that reflect the differences in taste between the Japanese and Brits.
The photo below shows a happy customer wearing a Sorazora vest jacket. If my memory serves me correctly, the foliage protruding from here backpack suggests that she has picked up some carrots from the organic market area.
If you are planning a trip to Tokyo, it is well worth checking out what festivals will be held in the park as it's central location make an easy and exciting excursion. The festivals are all free to enter and access buy Tokyo Metro is very close.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Cider And Toffee Apples @ Middle Farm

Last night we returned home after having spent two wonderful days at Middle Farm in Lewes, East Sussex. The farm holds various events throughout the year and last weekend was their 17th annual Apple Festival.

As you can imagine, Apples were very much the theme over the weekend with a plentiful flow of cider, apple juice, toffee apples and a vast selection of fresh apples. The pressing of apples was the first sight for customers entering this delightful farm. There was plenty of live music, dancing and even a funfair to provide entertainment.

With a lot of food to soak up the cider, not all traditional British, Muu was serving some great Japanese dishes (pictured above). It was through Muu that we found out about this popular festival. If you enjoy getting out and about during the festival season, I would strongly recommend that you check Muu's website for details of the events they will be attending next season. If you happen to be at the same festival, please do pop along and try out their great food.

Middle Farm is definitely a place I would recommend for anyone who would like to combine shopping in a farm shop, a nice meal in a restaurant, educational entertainment for their children and coming face to face with some friendly domesticated animals.
The daily milking of cows can be viewed and the list of farm animals is quite long as it includes pigs, horses, ducks, sheep, rabbits and an unbelievable range of chicken breeds. The two peacocks were hardly domesticated as they seemed to have free run on the farm that they have chosen to call home.

If you are interested to learn more about Middle Farm and what is on offer there, please check out their website.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Middle Farm's Apple Festival

Today we will be heading down to Middle farm in Lewes, East Sussex for their annual Apple Festival.
This is the seventeenth year that they have held this nationwide celebration of our national fruit and expect around six thousand visitors over Saturday & Sunday.
If you are free, please come down and enjoy the live music and range of products that will be on offer.
The festival will be open from 10am through to 5pm on both days and we are looking forward to seeing you all there.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

5 New Tokyo Green Glass Pendants

Today's new product upload is a set of 5 glass pendants attached to ornate macrame cords. For more information on these items, click here!

These are the first 5 of a new batch of 21 kindly sent by Masaya Kuribayashi from his glass workshop located in Shibuya, Tokyo. The pendants were crafted from a few different techniques including Neutral, Inside-out and Uchu.

Each pendant has been attached to a macrame cord using a variety of dyed and undyed natural fibres. These include hemp, nettle, flax and cotton. Each cord has been crafted with loving care by Atslan.

Manihiki (Inside-out series)

Lana'i (Neutral series)

Sapienza (Inside-out series)

Alofi (Glass bead series)

Alamagan (Uchu serires)

Link to information on Green Glass Tokyo
Link to information on Atslan

Friday, 1 October 2010

Natural Dye Silk Shawls

Today's product upload are these loose weave shawls made from raw silk (untreated silk).
All of our beautifully soft silk shawls have been dyed using a variety of natural soothing colours to compliment almost any outfit. The more these shawls are worn, the softer they become.
For more details about these shawls, click here!

These are a selection from the many dyes that we use. Many new colours are achieved by overdyeing and all our silk shawls are dyed by us here in the UK and all mordanted with alum. Until now, just a few colours were available online with a broader selection available in our shop. We are now happy to be able to make one of our most popular items available online.

Madder & Elderberry / Elderberry
Myrobalan & Indigo / Himalayan Rhubarb & Elderberry
Onion Skin / Himalayan Rhubarb / Walnut Husk
Madder (deep) / Madder (pale)