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Artisan Weaver: Sharif

Artisan Weaver: Sharif

Every time we visit beautiful, fascinating Morocco we return with new treasures and an even greater appreciation for the artisans who create our lovely products. Besides buying products and discussing issues and plans with our artisans, we take time to observe their work and learn about their lives. 

One of the artisans we spent time with during last month’s visit is Sharif Abdelkabir, one of several weavers of our gorgeous table scarves and the fabric for our pillow covers. Sharif has been weaving for over 40 years, and his fellow artisans tell us that he is, “well known for his high quality of work and knowledge of weaving, as well as his good character and intellect.”

We visited his home where he weaves our fabric and had the honor of Moroccan tea and delicious treats with him and his family. Sharif lives in a traditional medina (old town) home, 3 stories tall and nestled between other ancient homes. His flat roof-top patio features a pigeon coop and a pretty view of the Marrakech medina. A typical medina household, it includes Sharif’s wife, three grown sons, three daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, and two large looms. Moroccans are known to adore children, and this was well-evidenced by this family’s affection for their grandchildren, Fatimazara, 5, and  Amin, 2.


Sharif weaving at home in Marrakech.

I have a new appreciation for Sharif and the other weavers who create our textiles. The uniqueness of each piece takes on a new meaning, as it represents a specific hour, or several, of the weaver’s life.  The subtle differences and imperfections in the weaving, that slightly-off thread or two, are due, perhaps, to the welcome distraction of a grandchild visiting Sharif at his loom.

Sharif Photo Collage

Artisan Weaver Sharif, Marrakech. Photos by Buzz Blumm

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Artisan Leather Crafter: Ahmed

Artisan Leather Crafter: Ahmed

As Father’s Day and graduations approach, our beautiful artisan-made duffel bags fly off the shelves! What a perfect way to honor Dad, as the craftsman behind our duffels is a dad, too. Ahmed, father of four, learned leather craft skills from his father, who learned from his father. We visited him during our recent buying trip to Morocco.

Ahmed has been creating leather crafts for 15 years and now has his own workshop with 3 employees. His small business is thriving as he has secured customers (like Moroccan Buzz) in other countries. Ahmed’s enjoyment and pride in his craft are apparent.

During our visit, one of Ahmed’s assistant artisans was staining leather from the nearby tannery for our brown duffels. We watched as he transformed the hides with quick strokes of a sponge dipped in water and natural pigment. At the same time, Ahmed was cutting and sorting un-dyed leather straps for natural tan duffels. He used a template to draw an outline of each piece of the duffel onto the leather, then cut the pieces with a large pair of sharp scissors. He then sorted the straps: some were too thin in parts and needed to be discarded or cut down for use as the smaller of the two connecting straps. Ahmed showed us how the prepared leather pieces are sewn together, the bag is lined, and hardware is attached.

 

 

The finished product is exceptional, with old-world character and subtle variances in finish and stitching proving its authentic handmade origin. One can sense Ahmed’s positive energy and pride in his work in every piece.

Ahmed Collage

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Pure Argan Oil from Moroccan Women's Cooperatives

I've been an argan oil fan since one of my family's early trips to Morocco. Nothing seems to treat skin and hair better! Pure argan oil is actually the only product that I've found to be really effective on dry winter skin and hair. It's both a look-good and feel-good product: brands like Arganium and Moroccan Buzz are pure, organic, and purchased from women's cooperatives at fair trade prices. It's good for you, good for the environment, and good for rural Moroccan women as your purchase fosters their economic and social independence.

As more and more beauty editors, stylists, and celebrities - including Eva Mendes, Charlize Theron, Madonna, Kim Kardashian, Scarlet Johansson, and Katy Perry - swear by the benefits of argan oil, countless new argan products have popped up. Note that many products include only a small percentage of argan oil. Be sure to check the label. Brands like Moroccan Buzz and Arganium are 100% pure oil from the Argania Spinosa tree nut.

Here's how to use luxurious, multi-purpose argan oil (directions are also included in our Arganium product inserts):

Rub a few drops between palms of hands and apply to face, hair, nails and body.

Face: To nourish and moisturize skin and promote youthful glow, immediately after cleansing face and blotting dry, gently massage a few drops into skin. Can be used alone or after applying other moisturizers to lock in hydration. Can be used under makeup.

Hair: As therapy for dry, damaged hair or scalp, apply from root to ends and leave in for up to 30 minutes, shampoo and condition as usual. To add shine to dull, or color-treated hair, rub a few drops between palms of hands and apply to clean, dry hair. To reduce frizz and the appearance of split ends, rub a few drops between palms of hands and apply to clean, dry hair, concentrating on the ends.

Nails and Cuticles: To treat dry cuticles and add shine to nails, rub a drop into each nail and cuticle.

Body: To treat and prevent dry skin, massage into towel-dried skin immediately after bath or shower. Massage into dry areas: elbows, heels, knees.

 

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Moroccan Buzz is Featured on Houzz Today!

If you're not already using Houzz.com, today is the perfect time to check it out: our Maroon Leather Pouf Ottoman is featured in its home page story about Pantone's Color of the Year today: "Mad About Marsala". Continue reading

Moroccan Trip 2014: Thuya Wood

This year's buying trip included a visit to Khalil's thuya wood shop in the beautiful coastal town of Essaouira, Morocco. The aromatic cedar-like scent of Moroccan thuya wood fills the town's streets and shops, adding to the already-exotic experience of shopping in Morocco. We spent an afternoon browsing Khalil's lovely handcrafted boxes and accessories, re-ordering customer favorites, and choosing new treasures for our site. Our favorite new thuya wood item: this intricately-inlaid handcrafted Thuya Wood Serving Tray. Check our Thuya Wood page for more new products. 

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Moroccan Trip 2014: Argan Oil

Goats in trees? Only in Morocco! Buzz took this photo during our recent buying on the road from Marrakech to Essaouira. We traveled with our friend and wood supplier, Khalil, who happened to be friends with the goatherds there. The goats actually scamper up low branches of the argan tree (Argania Spinosa) to reach the tree's fruit. The popular cosmetic ingredient, argan oil, is pressed from the argan tree nut. I love the luxurious argan oil - makes hair shiny and healthy-looking and skin soft - and have been using it for a couple of years. During this trip, we ordered pure organic argan oil from the women's Cooperatives Targanine, which will soon be available on our site.

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Frank Lloyd Wright and Moroccan Rugs

As a Southwestern Pennsylvania gal, Cecile was delighted to learn that almost all of the rugs used in Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece “Fallingwater” are handmade Moroccan. The iconic 1930‘s Kaufmann family retreat in Mill Run, PA, features several Beni Ourain tribal rugs as well as handwoven, intricately embroidered kilims.

Our current collection includes several embroidered kilims by the Moroccan Zemmour and Zainne tribes, similar to the red rug displayed in Fallingwater’s main sitting area (first photo). We hope to acquire some Beni Ourain rugs (second photo) on our next visit to Morocco. If you’re searching for the perfect Moroccan rug for your space but don’t see what you want on our site, send us an email (info@moroccanbuzz.com); our collection includes additional rugs which we offer in other venues and we’re happy to send photos. We’re also glad to take special orders/special requests for particular styles, colors, and sizes.

We marvel at the creativity and craftsmanship of Moroccan rugs. Whether handwoven, intricately embroidered, or hand-knotted, each rug is meticulously crafted and represents weeks or months of the artisan’s life. Each piece is a unique work of art, striking as a rug, wall hanging, or throw. It’s gratifying to know that there is a woman and a story behind each piece, and your rug purchase supports her and her family.

 

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Nepal

One-half of the Moroccan Buzz family, Buzz & Andrew Blumm, just returned from an arduous 70 mile trek in the Himalayas, reaching the base camp of Mt. Everest about a week ago. They were so enamored of Nepal and its gracious people that they decided we should add a “Nepal” division to Moroccan Buzz Imports. In fact, they brought a few treasures home to get it started! Stay tuned for the launch of a page featuring handmade Nepalese leather, bracelets, and singing bowls here on moroccanbuzz.com. Hopefully more Nepal visits and merchandise are in our future!

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Photos From Moroccan Buying Trip

Buzz & Maddie just returned from a busy and successful buying trip – we’ll soon be stocked with more rugs, mirrors, jewelry, leather, and more. Keep checking our online shop for new additions!  Continue reading
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