Kyley Schmidt graduated with a degree in Textile Technology with a design concentration from the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. She entered the Peace Corps and was sent to the island of Madagascar. She resides in a village where these lambas are produced. In the spring of 2003, she emailed three people including me about helping her develop a market for these lambas in order to improve living conditions in this village where $25 will feed a family of four for a month. I was the one who contacted her back and the rest has been a result of her concern for the people and my interest in being involved. Damascus Road Productions handles the sale of these items at this point and could serve as the wholesale distributor for the world.

What is the story behind these lambas?

First, the word lamba in the native language simply means rectangular piece of cloth. Madagascar is a unique island much like the Galapagos Islands because about 80% of the plants and animals on this island are found only here, nowhere else in the world. The lambas are made from a native natural silk the type of which is only grown on the island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa.

At this time, Damascus Road Productions has entered a marketing program with the village in Madagascar, Anjoman'Ankona where Kyley works, to sell their lambas world-wide. The village is now a coop and receives payment for the lambas through Damascus Road Productions. The money they receive is being used to improve their lives in many ways.

The villagers, mostly the women, gather the cocoons from the tapia trees and boil them to remove the silk. Then they spin the silk into yarn. The weavers in Kyley's village buy cocoons of the Borocera silkworm from a neighboring town about 30 miles away in Madagascar's Central Highlands. The Borocera silkworm, known locally as Landibe ("Big silk worm") grows only in Madagascar in the island's native forests of tapia trees.

The weavers boil the raw cocoons in soapy water for a morning. Then they put them in an insulated bag and pour small amounts of boiling water intermittently over them for a week which loosens up the fibers and turns it into a fibrous mass.

Then the yarn is dyed using local plants, roots, dirt or whatever is available.Here a weaver is using passion fruit leaves to produce a green color. The leaves are boiled with the yarn.

The weavers use about 15 types of plants and clays to give them their colors. Bark of the nato tree gives the deep red. Black rice paddy clay mixed with soot or mulberry seeds gives black thread. Curry and onion give yellow. Passion fruit leaves and local green leafy vegetable leaves give green color. Cactus roots produce a pink. The weavers use eucalyptus leaves and salt as a fixative. In general they pound the raw material, boil water with the pulp, then add the thread boiling repeatedly according to how dark they would like the color.

All the thread is hand-spun on drop spindles because the thread is too delicate to spin by machine. Spinning thread is the most labor-intensive part of the process, and it takes one woman a week to spin the thread for a big lamba. Those pods in the back are shells of beans, which is one food they farm and eat a lot.

The simple hand loom the weavers use is shown here. Usually there are one or two looms per weaving family. They insert small sticks into the warp to hold up the yarns when weaving patterns into the fabric. The bamboo stick across the width close to the weaver is to maintain an even width throughout the weaving of the scar or lamba. The weaver pushes down the yarn to perform the shedding mechanism. They thread the loom so every other thread lifts forming a simple basket weave.

So what is the situation with the village and the production of these lambas?

Some women in the capital are starting to use the silk in interior decoration and accessories. Pillows, handbags, bedspreads, tapestry, table lays, throws. The cloth often uses the raised mulberry silk (Bombyx mori) along with the wild Malagasy silk (Borocera madagasicarensis) used in the traditional cloth.

Modern Malagasy silk producers often have a hard time finding foreign markets because they don't stress or understand the importance of the fabric- its history, its unique look and texture, and the rarity of this wild silk AND bulk buyers often don't care as much about this but care about general look and price only. Also shipping is expensive and raises the price of the item. The problem is the price the buyers are willing to pay is not high enough to make it worth the producers' work. The fabric is hand made- the thread hand spun, the fabric woven on the most simple hand looms, and it takes a long time. But the final product is unique, natural, culturally interesting, and extremely classy.


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Jewelry
Semiprecious Stone and Metal Necklaces The diversity of necklaces found here is amazing making them all versatile and so much fun to wear. Each one is handcrafted and a definite work of art. Semiprecious stones, pearls, crystal, murano glass, and so many other features make these necklaces heirloom quality. Brushed Aluminum Earrings Elegant, beautiful, stunning, WOW, excellent craftsmanship, versatile, high fashion and many other statements of approval have been given about this collection of handmade jewelry collected and brought back from around the world. Artisans make the jewelry while you watch bending wires and incorporating beautiful semi-precious gems. The range of items here is from simple and casual to complex and exquisite. Enjoy looking through this array of items. Semiprecious Stone Bracelets Bracelets that will make a statement because of their unique one-of-a-kind designs will make anyone pleased to own one. Brass, antique brass, and alpaca with semiprecious stones, pearls, and so much more make these bracelets pieces of art to enjoy wearing. Alpaca is an excellent alloy made of sterling silver, copper and zinc with the look of silver but not the tarnishing. Semiprecious Stone Rings Intricate designs and durable rings made of alpaca, and brass are all adjustable to fit any size finger. All stones are semiprecious gems. Alpaca is an allow of sterling silver, copper and zinc which does not tarnish and has the look of silver. Brushed Aluminum Necklaces Fashioned by Carla and Fernando Vaucher in Brazil, these necklaces are made from recycled aluminum and each piece hand brushed with fine sand paper to add the exception finish. Light weight and tarnish free, these necklaces have the look and style of sterling without the cost. Brushed Aluminum Rings Fashioned by Carla and Fernando Vaucher, these rings are made of recycled aluminum. Light weight, non-allergenic, adjustable size and the look of silver without the cost combine to make these rings an excellent buy. Brushed Aluminum Bracelets Fashioned by Carla and Fernando Vaucher in Brazil, these necklaces are made from recycled aluminum and each piece hand brushed with fine sand paper to add the exception finish. Light weight and tarnish free, these bracelets have the look and style of sterling without the cost. Stainless Steel Earrings Exceptional detail in these stainless steel earrings is a mark of Danny's work. Light weight and non-allergenic, these are one of a kind classics with the look of sterling at affordable prices. Stainless Steel Bracelets Exceptional detail in these stainless steel bracelets is a mark of Danny's work. Light weight and non-allergenic, these are one of a kind classics with the look of sterling at affordable prices. These bracelets are actually hinged making them so easy to put on. They fit snugly and look like a bangle. Designer Metal Rings Handcrafted by Nilson in Brazil, these rings are each distinctly designed with careful attention to detail. The silver colored ring are alpaca, an excellent allow of sterling silver, copper and zinc that provides the look of silver without tarnishing and without the cost. The other rings are brass or antique brass. Designer Metal Bracelets Handcrafted by Nilson in Brazil, these bracelets are each distinctly designed with careful attention to detail. The silver colored bracelets are alpaca, an excellent allow of sterling silver, copper and zinc that provides the look of silver without tarnishing and without the cost. The other bracelets are brass or antique brass or a combination of metals.
Business Philosophy
The initial reason for founding Damascus Road Productions was to provide a means to market different forms of art that would be attractive to a diversity of people. When the connection with Madagascar was made, we learned that Damascus Road Productions could become a world marketing firm and provide incredible assistance to talented people in a jungle village. We intend to be a successful business as well as improve living conditions for people who need and deserve assistance. The following statements present the important facets of this business. While we are definitely involved in helping people such as the village in Madagascar, we are not a non-profit business. We are committed to insuring that quality products are distributed, no matter what the product is. The leadership of this business resides with the co-founders and all decisions to expand and umbrella any other individuals are made by those two founders. We welcome any inquiries from individuals who may wish to become part of this business venture as a supplier or buyer.
History of Damascus Road Productions
Philip Dail and Bradley Cummins, both residents of Garner, NC, founded this company officially in November of 2003 for the purpose of marketing treasures from all over the world. The young company has landed some beautiful items for their enterprise including the Malagasy Lamba textile collection and the Visions of the Americas photography collection. The connections this company has to people around the world are amazing and support the mission of this company to introduce the beauty of diverse cultures to people everywhere. Philip Dail Philip is the Director of Advising and Admissions for the College of Textiles at NC State University. This position affords him great contact with people who are involved in the production of textile products of all types. Philip has degrees in Biology with a concentration in Plant Physiology, Physics and Science Education, Chemistry and Education of Exceptional Children. He has 34 years of teaching experience at the high school and college levels. He is a world traveler having spent time in the former USSR, South Africa, Spain, Italy, Greece, Canada, Mexico, England, Wales, Ireland, Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Virgin Islands, Denmark and Norway as well as having traveled extensively throughout the United States of America visiting 47 of the 48 contiguous states on two occasions. He has a strong interest in the cultures of all countries with a particular interest in the role of textiles in their traditions. He enjoys photography, teaching, growing roses, traveling, cooking, reading and being involved in community service. Bradley Cummins Bradley is currently free lancing around the world working at various jobs and doing volunteer work helping people. He spent the summer of 2004 in Alaska and is traveling to Brazil for part of 2004 and 2005. He has degrees in Spanish and Textile Engineering and has used the degrees greatly in his travels and his work in information technology. He has traveled in Costa Rica, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Virgin Islands and throughout the United States of America. He is an avid water sports enthusiast recently taking on kite surfing to add to his fun. He enjoys traveling, photography, journaling, playing guitar, and learning about wines.
Lamba Sizing
When dealing with any handmade item, dimensions are going to vary slightly. We have chosen to group the lamba sizes as follows. When you see a picture of a lamba, you are shown the entire surface of the lamba. You will not see the very edge of a lamba but what you see at the side of the picture is the last color on the edge of the lamba, Of course, this is not an issue with the solid colored lambas. If you do want to know exact dimensions of a specific lamba, feel free to email us. Extra Small - 8 to 10 inches wide (20 to 25 cm) and 55 to 60 inches long (138 to 150 cm) Small - 10 to 12 inches wide (25 to 30 cm) and 58 to 64 inches long (145 to 160 cm) Medium - 12 to 14 inches wide (30 to 35 cm) and 80 to 84 inches long (200 to 210 cm) Large - 15 to 20 inches wide (38 to 50 cm) and 80 to 84 inches long (200 to 210 cm) Extra Large - 20-26 inches wide (50 to 65 cm) and 80 to 84 inches long (200 to 210 cm)