Made in Cayman: A new take on a traditional craft

Embroidery has been practised in the world for millennia, and is nothing new in Cayman. But a local, family-owned, small business is now putting a new spin on this traditional craft.

Started by artist Nasaria Budal in March 2021, Wood + Woven creates handmade home décor with a focus on tying in Cayman’s heritage.
“We create modern embroidery hoops, driftwood wall hangings and other handmade items, such as seasonal ornaments, garlands, painted mid-century/bohemian vases and painted driftwood,” says Budal.

The idea behind Wood + Woven evolved over time, Budal says. “At first I really didn’t know what to do creatively. I had so many ideas and really needed to think about each one from a business perspective," she says. "It had to be a family business, and it also had to be something that no one else was doing. The market here is small enough as it is and I didn’t want to intrude on another small business owner trying to make it during a pandemic.”

Eventually, Budal settled on creating art with embroidery that reflects Cayman's past and present.

craft piece
An embroidered wall hanging created by Wood + Woven that reflects Cayman's heritage.

In Cayman's olden times, women who stayed behind to look after families when their men had gone to sea used whatever they could find to make beautiful things, sometimes embroidering dresses or ornamental rugs from old crocus sacks, covering them with scraps of colourful cloth. Although Budal’s designs are very different, with a unique, contemporary feel, there are still plenty of threads to stitch her work firmly to Cayman’s cultural past. Sometimes the motifs are delightfully simple, like a monochromatic outline of a frond or a group of leaves. At other times, forms and colours reflect an abstracted dream of Cayman colours, with interlocking swatches of rich pinks, turquoise blues, mauves and greens — the visual afterglow, perhaps, of staring at a sunset across the sea.

“The embroidery hoops are our top sellers and consist of adjustable beechwood hoops, fabric and embroidery floss," she says.

"Occasionally we add bits of driftwood or beading to the designs. Wall hangings are fashioned from yarn and hung from driftwood found in Grand Cayman."

How long each piece takes to make depends on what it is, and who it is for.

“For custom-made or commissioned pieces, the process begins with working with the client to fully understand their vision," Budal says. "This may involve talking through possible design elements before creating a concept. Other ad-hoc pieces are really just whatever inspires me, or may be linked to a holiday or season."

Wood + Woven products can be purchased at 3 Girls & A Kiln.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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