Artist Bio / Statement
Greetings! We are BirchLeaf Designs - a family of four near the Yellow Dog River, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We live off the grid, making handcrafted, natural playthings that inspire imaginations, using silk, cotton, wood, and felted wool. We live, work, homeschool, create, love, and play nestled amongst the Hemlocks.
We were no stranger to Dharma Trading Co. when we began our "official" business in 2006. Prior to that, we experimented with tie-dyeing and vat dyeing 8 mm silk scarves and other children's clothes. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to open up shop. Since then, we have expanded to making our own silk streamers and poi, and hemming our own waldorf-style play stand silks, using bulk silk fabrics from Dharma.
When making a silk streamer, for example, we take a large piece of 10 mm Habotai silk fabric, soak it in citric acid for 30 minutes, then dye it in rainbow colors with Dharma fiber reactive Procion dyes. We heat set it in the microwave for up to 6 minutes and, after letting it sit, we rinse (and rinse!) and wash with Synthrapol. After drying the silk, we cut it into strips, sew it on the serger, sew on a button hole, and attach it to a dowel or a found piece of wood. WahLah! There you have a beautiful streamer!
Alongside our love affair with Dharma Trading Co., we like to reclaim wood and other pieces and parts to make quality playthings and housewares. We are known to use recycled/upcycled materials like cereal boxes for flower presses, salvaged wool sweaters for doll bodies or mittens, or wood cutoffs from other projects for our wood goods. We also like to use materials found in nature like birch bark, salvaged tree prunings, or acorn tops.
We are always looking for ways to improve our products! Comments and suggestions are welcomed! We also do custom orders... is there a product that you would like to see us make? We are open to ideas and challenges!
We work to live simple... off the grid, solar power, solar water pump, wood heat, bees and other farm animals, and in return for our work, we get to enjoy those simple gifts - maple syrup, honey, nature... sweet love, sweet life!
You only live once, so play hard and pure with handmade toys that are sure to endure. Support the local handmade movement whenever you can!