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Our Stories | Mexicali Blues Blog

The History of Block Print & Hand Block Printing in India

The History of Block Print & Hand Block Printing in India

The history of block print is woven through the tapestry of many different cultures, from ancient Egypt to Rome, however, most historians point to China as the origin of this art. The first and oldest evidence of block printing dates back to May 11th of the year 868, when the “Diamond Sutra” was printed in Dunhuang, China. This sixteen foot long scroll is not only an important Buddhist text, but it also happens to be the oldest printed book in human existence. 

Mexicali owners Pete and Kim are lucky enough to have visited the farms, fields, woodshops, workshops, and communities where each of our block print fabrics are made. There, they met the artisans, farmers, designers, and community members who help keep this tradition alive. Whereas many manufacturers have mechanized this process, our Indian block print textiles are made by hand, in fact by MANY HANDS, from start to finish. 

Continue reading to learn more about the Indian block print process…

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Meet the Maker: Phadet from Bangkok 🇹🇭

Meet the Maker: Phadet from Bangkok 🇹🇭


Mexicali owners Pete and Kim met Phadet over 20 years ago in the renowned Chatachuck Weekend Market, recognized as the busiest market in Thailand. We call Phadet the “king of patterns.” His unique, exotic prints of elephants, peacocks, and mandalas reflect the majestic nature and colorful culture of Thailand.  

 

The first time that Pete and Kim met Phadet was in 1998. They were 8,000 miles and twelve time zones away from home. They had traded in their dollars for baht, exchanged snow for sunshine, and were on the hunt for groovy goods in the “Land of Smiles.” They didn’t speak more than a few words in Thai, but they spoke Smile fluently. Did we mention that they were with their three kids? At the impressionable ages of 7, 5, and 3, these blonde, bowl cut, tie dyed ducklings sawadee’d and smiled their way through the sea of stalls in amazement (sawadee khrup (m) / ka (f) - hello). 

 

After wandering for hours amongst the thousands of vendors that sold everything from chickens to cosmetics, the tie dye family found themselves in front of a small stall exploding with colorful clothing. A friendly face smiled out at them, and that was when we first encountered the King of Patterns. Phadet invited the family in and cleared a space for them to sit amongst the piles of textiles. Smiles took care of the language barrier, and Phadet’s fair prices and honest expression took care of the rest. As Kim and Pete started to pull out samples and discuss designs using hand gestures and a calculator to communicate, the three kids fell asleep on piles of clothing, many of which would become Phadet’s first styles sent back to Mexicali stores in Maine. 

 

Twenty years later, not a lot has changed. We still do business with Phadet every year, and he is still a source of calm amongst the chaos of the market. Smiles are still our main source of communication, although our technology now extends beyond calculators and into Whatsapp and emojis. Phadet’s honesty, integrity, and creativity are still reflected in his vibrant designs, fair prices, and the way he runs his family business. The only real difference is that Chauncey, Carly, and Caleb no longer take naps on stacks of clothing in his stall.

 

In Thailand, there’s a famous saying, “Same, Same, But Different.” We look forward to continuing our relationship with Phadet and how, over the next twenty years, our family businesses and our friendship will grow and change in a same, same, but different kind of way.


Check out Phadet’s collection of colorful cultural designs here!

 

🌏 The Mexicali Welly Traveler - More Than a Water Bottle💧

🌏 The Mexicali Welly Traveler - More Than a Water Bottle💧

There are countless reasons why the Mexicali Traveler is more than a water bottle...

Welly has made a company commitment to bring water to the world and donates 1% or more of every sale to clean water projects around the globe, but that's not all...

Mexicali Blues has committed to donate 100% of the sales of the Mexicali Traveler to fund the installation of a new drinking water system in Bokchamsido, Nepal...

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Community, Culture, Celebration - Safe Drinking Water For Bokchamsido, Nepal 💧

Community, Culture, Celebration - Safe Drinking Water For Bokchamsido, Nepal 💧

At Mexicali we love community, we love culture, we love celebration, and we love giving back. The past thirty-four years of business have taught us that you, our ever-growing community, love all of these things just as much as we do. Through our combined efforts, with the help of the dZi foundation, you have already helped educate, inspire, and empower the communities of the Solokhumhu region of northeastern Nepal. Together we have created a ripple that has spread from Maine through the Himalayas.

We will be donating 100% of the sales of the Mexicali Traveler Water Bottle to the dZi Foundation to fund the Bokchamsido drinking water project...

 

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The dZi Foundation: Sewing Seeds of Sustainable Change in Eastern Nepal 🤲🏼🏔🌳

The dZi Foundation: Sewing Seeds of Sustainable Change in Eastern Nepal 🤲🏼🏔🌳

The dZi Foundation works with remote mountainous communities in Eastern Nepal that are some of the most rural and under-resourced of the nation, often overlooked by international aid and government support. They work hand-in-hand with community members to sow impactful, long-lasting seeds of change that empower these communities to break the cycle of poverty.

Over the past two decades the trees of the dZi Foundation have directly impacted the lives of over 44,000 individuals, and radically reshaped the future of northeastern Nepal.

Mexicali first partnered with dZi following the devastating earthquakes of 2015...

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