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If you have dropped into one of our stores recently, you may have admired the jewellery, wall-art and string bags or bilum, made by our friends at Bilum & Bilas.
Undoubtedly striking in aesthetic, I’m sure you were enamoured with the intricately woven earrings resembling delicate dreamcatchers, in the same way our entire team at FLANNEL have been since their arrival.
Embedded in the contemporary designs of this local Papua New Guinean label is a social enterprise providing a sustainable future for local female artisans. When Founder and Creative Director, Jessica Cassell first visited PNG in 2008, she was struck by the deep wisdom and skill involved in making bilum. In 2014 Jessica launched the brand to help female artisans market their products online to an international audience, bypassing the inconsistent local tourist trade.
Bilum & Bilas was established to share and uphold the beauty of this highly technical craft and also to honour and preserve the craftswoman ship of this culturally significant practice.
The natural materials used by Bilum & Bilas come from native plants, sustainably grown and harvested. Once cultivated, the plants are hand-process to retain the fibrous insides, then left to dry in the sun. The dried fibres are run back and forth along the women’s thighs, twisting and binding them together to make string for weaving.
In learning about this process, I was particularly fascinated to discover how the string is looped into a figure 8 or infinity loop symbol (represented in the brand's logo), forming the knots and patterns that define the intricate composition of bilum.
It is impossible to ignore the symbolic nature of the tiny infinity loop in each creation. Threads of rich cultural heritage woven throughout time and passed down through generations of women. As I look at each piece, I am utterly amazed at the skill and devotion braided into every design.
Cumulatively, the process of making one bilum bag can take many months. Ensuring a sustainable business model for the brand and their artists - Bilum & Bilas uses the same customary techniques but in micro-form to make their bespoke jewellery.
We are honoured to house Bilum & Bilas at FLANNEL and acknowledge the artists and their connection to culture and country. We feel privileged to share their designs and stories with you. Each piece really is a work of art.
If you would like to learn more about the work of Bilum & Bilas visit their website: www.bilumandbilas.com
If you would like to shop this beautiful, wearable art, visit us in our Brighton, Hawksburn Village, Cottesloe, Garden City or Subiaco stores. Coming soon to all stores... X
Bilum is a woven bag used for carrying goods, firewood and food, as well as a hammock to cradle a sleeping baby or to adorn oneself during a celebration. It holds deep cultural and emotional significance and is listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage item. The practice of creating bilum is performed by women and passed down from grandmothers, mothers and aunts to future female generations.
A bilas is a decoration or an adornment used throughout PNG to celebrate cultural diversity, heritage and personal expression.
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