Every Magnetic Midnight piece is entirely handmade and requires an intricate fabrication process from a variety of artisans across Colombia. Most of our pieces are made to order or made in limited editions- as a result every piece is unique. The brand’s philosophy of respecting the craft whilst simultaneously seeking to elevate it, perfecting the quality and finding new perspectives with which to observe, manipulate or transform it, results from a close and dedicated collaboration with our artisans. Learning the essence of the craft and the tradition from them allows us to design in accordance with its true nature.
Fascinated not only by the different techniques, but the materials themselves, we have made combining different traditional crafts and techniques the basis of our design process, creating pieces from unexpected materials, textures and forms.
The underlying frames for our headpieces, bags, boxes and trays are made out of galvanized stainless steel wire by Manuel and Maria Belen, a couple who have a family owned lampshade business. Manuel designs the templates and personally makes each piece by hand in his workshop outside of Bogota. It takes him about two weeks to make an order of a dozen frames.
The Iraca palm leaf is a natural fiber found in Colombia and used in different parts of the country to make baskets, hats and other pieces such as placemats. Magnetic Midnight only uses sustainably sourced palm leaf from Nariño that is responsibly grown and harvested. The Iraca leaves are carefully separated into fibers which are dried and sold in bundles.
Our artisans are based in In Usiacuri, in the northern coast of Colombia where weaving the iraca palm is the town’s main economy and children are taught weaving in school. In the main technique we use, the fibers divided into even finer threads, tinted or left natural, knotted or braided around thin wire and woven together into beautiful patterns. Its lace like quality was the inspiration for our Irachnae collection of headpieces. We have now applied it to bags, boxes and trays and used it to create appliques which we sew on to linen or velvet bags, cushions and placemats.
We collaborate closely with a team of artisans which over the last 6 years has grown to almost a dozen: Luisa, Maria Alejandra, Alex, Xelene, Johan, Juliet, Dayana, Darleys, Xilena, Aldemar, Dairis. Each one is an expert in a particular type of weaving. From them we have learned about every different type of stitch, how the handle the fibers, the effect of different thicknesses, the subtleties of the spacing. In turn, we reinterpret the techniques to create our signature designs. It takes three to five days to weave a complex bag, or intricate headpiece.
Gilding the palm leaf, one of the most delicate and precise techniques with which we work is a long and complex process. We have been working with William and Cristina for six years after proposing the idea of dipping palm leaf in gold. For one piece, it takes about two to three weeks and a total of about 25 steps. Each piece is prepared, varnished, the areas to be gilded are painted before undergoing gold plating, then dried and polished. They use only certified fair trade gold.
Embroidery and beading techniques are mainly applied to our one-of-a-kind headpieces where we design and make intricate appliques by mixing and layering beads, sequins, mirrors, pompoms and other materials which we embroider on velvet or woven iraca palm leaf. We also use embroidery to sew our handmade Iraca appliques on cushions, bags and belts. It can take Danilsa and Deicy who are in charge of sewing all of our pieces by hand a week to sew one bag or set of cushions and handstitch all the decorations.