Eco-camping trips

S24O (bike and camp) mini adventure!

Matt and I are blessed to be living not far from the great outdoors of Ningbo. When regular couples will book the most romantic dinner in favourite places on Valentine’s Day, we wanted to avoid the crowd. We indulge ourselves by going camping quite often in different seasons- in particular, to places which can be reached by bikes. So here is the time when we left our expensive road bikes at home and took the touring bikes instead.

I was mesmerised by the bamboo weaving technique

Biking and camping are not a novel outdoorsy combination. This article illustrates how taking inspiration from nature has a great impact on how the KALA brand is shaped and is being developed. My great interest in natural materials as KALA’s design direction was a result of this too. The trip itself did not cost much as we cycled all the way there and carried our own gear and water.

Half way up the mountains and after the rain

Both Matt and I are not natural living zealots (nowhere near- we still carry plastic wrappers during our camping trips, for instance the crisps or baguette bag) but we also try to take small steps to reduce our less ideal consumption behaviour.

So we set off on Valentine’s Day (which was also our wedding anniversary) with two bikes. Matt carried most of the gear as usual (sleeping system and cooking gear) and I carried the tent and my camera in a special camera bag for bikes. The journey itself it was quite short, a mere 21km away with a 430+ metre climb. It turned to be a beautiful afternoon once we were done getting rained on. D’oh!

From the top of While Cloud Cliff, the most local range of mountains to home
Home to the campsite, a whopping 21km in total

We got to the campsite at 5pm, just enough time to set the tent up before it got dark. There is no road light (nor any light) around the campsite. We found the site a few years back, during one of those adventurous and ‘see where this road takes us to’ kind of moments, but it didn’t link to any other roads.

Tent was up in no time as the sun was setting

KALA’s own insulated cup made for good company, it keeps our hot beverage (necessary when it got cooler once the sun set) warmer for longer. Tip: You can find this product in KALA’s Weidian online shop.

KALA’s bamboo insulated cup, it comes with a handle too

Like most camping people, we like the idea of camp cooking. We did not have the luxury of a campfire however. To save taking a small chopping board and the whole onion on the bikes, I pre-chopped one and put it in the re-usable beeswax wrapper. It was one of KALA’s products too (will be back with the coolest batik patterns KALA designed). I reused a bread tie I have been collecting every time we buy bread. Completely zero waste, I get to wash the wrapper and re-use the bread tie again. Valentine’s day’s main menu was beef with creamy corn soup, with a baguette to share for dipping. Just humble comfort food.

KALA’s reusable beeswax wrapper- they will be back in stock soon with a new design
Onion wrapped in the beeswax wrapper
A handy tip for your bread ties, any door handles will do great to store them.

The sky was so clear that night and we got to see stars. We retired early (8pm) after sharing a bottle of wine we picked up in the nearest town (Hengxi) and the night was windier than we thought.

Mornings at the campsite are the ones to look forward to. Although the view was not as spectacular as the day before (a bit foggy), the tea plantations and the mountains still looked as majestic as they always are.

Morning view from the campsite (less clear than the day before)

KALA’s bamboo drip coffee filter was in service, brewing a slow coffee. We did not take the stand for convenience, but the insulated cup was a good size (tall enough) making sure the filter is not merged in the coffee (which can result in clogging). Because the bamboo filter is light, it was perfect for this kind of mission.

KALA’s bamboo drip coffee filter

I hope this short journey gives you inspiration for local adventures which are eco-friendlier, fun and memorable.

Products used on this trip which you can purchase from us are:

  • KALA bamboo drip coffee filter
  • KALA insulated bamboo cup
KALA official WeChat account

You can also view this article in our official WeChat account:

For English : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/lueQxP31YUefeWGmU_eLaw

For Chinese : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/n_EHnlE4Y-Uj6DeZeCU2Gg


ABOUT KALA

KALA was founded by Mia and Elza Tedjosaputro, in May 2020. KALA provides high quality stylish home decor and accessories that highlight a few simple attainable changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. There is always an Indonesian touch ensuring we empower our craftsmen and promote Indonesian culture and craftsmanship. KALA’s specific design language is the use of natural materials and artisanal, with a sense of play of texture and product functionality. We are based in Indonesia and China.

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About KALA, our brand

The overdue introduction of the brand!

ABOUT KALA AND MIA

KALA (China and Indonesia) was born in mid- 2020, as a subsidiary of Aksen Putra Mandiri. It is Mia’s family company (est in 2001), and she oversees the architecture and design arm of the company. KALA as a brand itself is in an infant stage and we operate on a very small scale from Ningbo, China and Surabaya, Indonesia.

KALA’s bamboo- related products are produced by hand in Indonesia by our own artisanal teams. Indonesia is where the product development is brewed. Our specific product design direction is on the use of natural materials. At the same time, we would like to raise awareness of eco-friendlier living in the form of day-to-day products. There is always Indonesian touch in what we design and curate, giving a nod to Mia’s cultural heritage. We aim to celebrate craftmanship through our product design and collaborations.

KALA official WeChat account
KALA online shop in Weidian (accessible via WeChat)

Any feedback on KALA’s products are greatly appreciated, please drop a line to [email protected] or Mia’s WeChat ( ID: miatedjosaputro ).

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KALA x Umah Empus: Java (coffee) but not from Java!

KALA x UMAH EMPUS: ABOUT THE COLLABORATION

Non-native speakers may not be aware of this, but the English slang “java”- meaning coffee- originated with the import to Europe of coffee from Java island- the main island in the Indonesian archipelago.

These beans though are from a plantation called Umah Empus, which is located in Central Aceh, in Sumatra, Indonesia. This is a family business established in 1980 with its headquarters in the nation’s capital of Jakarta and the connection with Ningbo is through Elmira, who although she isn’t currently working in the family business, is an alumnus of the University of Nottingham (Ningbo) and is now based here in Ningbo.

Picture courtesy of Umah Empus

This practice exercises respectable sourcing with an Indonesian touch (KALA’s cultural heritage), hence this collaboration. The plantation specialises in the Arabica Gayo bean, which is the classic favourite from Takengon, but also produces Robusta Kerinci, and these are the two flavours offered here by KALA.

Picture courtesy of Umah Empus

The beans are processed using a wet technique, fermented overnight, washed and air dried until the water percentage is 13-14%, and the skin is removed. Subsequently they are hand- sorted. This results in a semi-washed roast.

Picture courtesy of Umah Empus
Picture courtesy of Umah Empus

The flavour is quite distinct and coffee afficionados will appreciate the unique variations between the beans: Arabica Gayo and Robusta Kerinci.

Picture courtesy of Umah Empus
Picture courtesy of Umah Empus

Indonesian coffee is quite different from its African and South American counterparts, and usually drunk “muddy” (for example, Kopi Warung- “Kopi” is “coffee” and “Warung” is a kind of roadside food vendor) in that the grounds are left to settle in the cup rather than being filtered like you’re probably used to, but you can prepare it any way you like. We use our bamboo filters while we’re out and about, or a standard drip coffee machine while we’re at home. Find them in our Weidian link (attached in the photograph) or send Mia a private message (WeChat ID: miatedjosaputro ).

KALA’s bamboo drip coffee filter

The labels were chosen based on an online poll which we conducted, with two lucky winners in the associated random prize draw receiving a packet each of this exciting new product (well, new to Ningbo!). Thank you kindly for those who spent time to fill in the survey, we will use the chosen two labels.

Thank you for participating the survey!
The chosen two label design!

 

You can also view this article in our official WeChat account:

For English : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/859x8ai4p32XKm3y0S_ySQ

For Chinese (中文) : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/85nJ3oDYCYqK-Btn008ZTg


ABOUT KALA

KALA was founded by Mia and Elza Tedjosaputro, in May 2020. KALA provides high quality stylish home decor and accessories that highlight a few simple attainable changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. There is always an Indonesian touch ensuring we empower our craftsmen and promote Indonesian culture and craftsmanship. KALA’s specific design language is the use of natural materials and artisanal, with a sense of play of texture and product functionality. We are based in Indonesia and China.

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KALA x Lucky: Bamboo hoop organiser

Our second alternative of re-using discarded element!

Lucky (李琴芬) is KALA’s fourth collaborator we kick started in January 2021. Her pivotal part started in December 2020 in relation to the batik scarves, she made sure the edges are cut and trimmed properly. She is a Ningbo- based tailor and has been making clothes since the age of 17. That is nearly 50 years of experience she is sharing with us!

Lucky with my friend Ada when we came to visit her in February 2021

This collaboration looks at another discarded item and turn them into a functional yet relatable product for your cosy home. It has twofold aims: one is to facilitate your ideas from your own otherwise discarded fabric, and the other one is to provide a ready to be used tool/ utensil organiser curated by the KALA team.

About the “B-hoop” organiser.

B-hoop stands for “bamboo hoop organiser”, made of bamboo embroidery hoop (diameter 30cm). The hoop is made of bamboo, with the specific advantage of the ready to be exploited hanging system, by using the metal clamp. They function as organisers for your art & craft tools, your stationery and many more.

A couple of options for you:

  1. If you have a particular cloth you’d like to turn into one of these, feel free to WeChat Mia to discuss about it. Otherwise,
  2. KALA’s own premade B-hoop retails at 88RMB each. You can choose from 4 options as follows (while stocks last).

You can also view this article in our official WeChat account:

For English : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/J_N5RouPhnErBYrz0-i_Mg

For Chinese (中文) : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/7DOSM3TFdiPXMXlyliSTkA


ABOUT KALA

KALA was founded by Mia and Elza Tedjosaputro, in May 2020. KALA provides high quality stylish home decor and accessories that highlight a few simple attainable changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. There is always an Indonesian touch ensuring we empower our craftsmen and promote Indonesian culture and craftsmanship. KALA’s specific design language is the use of natural materials and artisanal, with a sense of play of texture and product functionality. We are based in Indonesia and China.

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KALA x Cathay: Plant based fabric colouring

Learning from our plant-based dyeing expert, Cathay Lv!

I met Cathay at a Christmas market in Ningbo, I purchased a lovely scarf from her and we exchanged contacts. When I learnt that she produced a beautiful range of colour from plants, I got excited. We have been co-creating ever since. I sat down with her and she kindly shared her vision, stories and her plant-based dyeing processes!

Photograph courtesy of Cathay

What is your full name and your studio’s name? 

吕瑜瑜 (Cathay Lv) 支梨手创 (Zhi Li Shou Chuang) is the studio name

How long have you been living in Ningbo? Do you have a studio?

More than three years in Ningbo, the dyeing studio is in preparation (there is a small garment factory in Taizhou, we can design our own plant dyed clothing)

Tell us a story about how you started dyeing please. What is your favourite part of it?

Photograph courtesy of Cathay

I used to be a costume designer, an amateur who likes to play with all kinds of crafts. When I went holiday to Yunnan to practice, like the local dyeing and oxidation out of a variety of blue patterns, I became fascinated. Later saw a Japanese documentary about an old craftsman who cultivated red flowers, hand-dyed lines, weaved, made traditional gothic items, and extracted soft and delicate red and yellow from plants; it had incomparable beauty in contrast to chemical dyeing. But it is also a pity that in China, where planting and dyeing has been going on for thousands of years, it is now on the verge of being lost.

Three years ago at a fabric exhibition, I met someone from a professional plant dyeing factory, they transitioned from chemical dyeing to plant dyeing and had been doing exploration and research for ten years- I was very moved! It turns out there are a lot of people passing on this skill! Then I began to try plant dyeing, got to know more and more people in the same way, and my technique slowly progressed. After the outbreak time I increased production, so I could sell the finished products and put them on the market for sale, many people liked the original products!

My favourite is the colour drop process! Plant dyeing is a natural vegetable dye, over time the colour will slowly weather, and for different raw materials different fabric materials the weathering process is different, the colour is quaint and gentle, each stage has a different beauty. It is the colour of life!

Tell us about the process of dyeing.

The main colours are red, yellow and blue- the three primary colours, other colours are based on the three primary colours. For the staining process (e.g. tie-dye blue): 1 cloth treatment, soaking/ cleaning/ de-pulping, etc.; 2 tie out the desired pattern; 3 put it in the dyeing cylinder; 4 oxidation; 5 repeated dyeing; 6 rinsing; 7 soap washing; 8 cleaning; 9 drying.

Tell us about the plant- based dye you use and how did you process them?

Photograph courtesy of Cathay

Main materials: dyed blue with blue indigo, red with soy wood, yellow with hazelnuts (Other materials can also produce red/ yellow). They are all cooked to make dye. The plant materials are put in water to boil at high temperatures, the strong colour is boiled out, and then dye is produced (I put different media to change the PH value, different fabrics will have different colours).

What do you think about KALA x Cathay collaboration?

I like this cooperation very much! KALA and I are using natural materials, hand-crafted, our philosophy is the same, I hope to cooperate to achieve good results. KALA has a concept of recycling that gives me some inspiration, and maybe I can use old clothes to dye them a new colour.

—-

KALA also carries some of Cathay’s existing line, at the same time we practice good co-creating design process by brainstorming product(s) that share the values of both sides. Namely KALA’s and Cathay’s own design values.

Coming up next, part of KALA x Cathay collaboration

Hand- crafted wrist bags. They were coloured by plant- based dye, by a local artisan. Two internal pockets. Fits large sized takeout coffee cups (St*rbucks etc.). Heavy duty cotton construction. Two interlocking handles provide a secure, ergonomic carrying position.

Classic cotton sun hats. Cotton, coloured by plant-based dye. Internal drawcord for size adjustment. Moderate softening in the brim (not stiff, not floppy either). Please specify the darker or lighter tone.

You can also view this article in our official WeChat account:

For English : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/m_WdzlN-mRbe149Thw1yuw

For Chinese (中文) : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/9Wz5_hnvW8BuWpBdwSfUwg


ABOUT KALA

KALA was founded by Mia and Elza Tedjosaputro, in May 2020. KALA provides high quality stylish home decor and accessories that highlight a few simple attainable changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. There is always an Indonesian touch ensuring we empower our craftsmen and promote Indonesian culture and craftsmanship. KALA’s specific design language is the use of natural materials and artisanal, with a sense of play of texture and product functionality. We are based in Indonesia and China.

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Reused bamboo kayak build

Bamboo kayak: from firewood to floating!

LOCATION

Danshan Chishui, Siming Mountains, Ningbo China

ABOUT THE PROJECT

This isn’t a step- by- step guide to building a bamboo kayak, as if anyone wants to build one, you can basically make it up as you go along- that’s what we did!

We had a couple of temporary bamboo structures to dismantle (click here for Bamboo Pod #1 and Bamboo Pod #2 coverage), which had been a design and build exercise for students. This left us with a lot of weathered bamboo to play with, so we decided to make a kayak.

Dismantling Bamboo Pod #2
Dismantling Bamboo Pod #2’s base

Video: cleaning dismantled materials

When bamboo has been exposed to nearly a year of rain, snow, sun and wind, it becomes very hard but quite brittle. For the curves we needed for the kayak however, it was fine. There are numerous ways of making the joints- peg and dowel, hemp/ plant-based epoxy lugs, etc. but time was a factor for us and this was only a prototype, so we used plastic zip ties, insulation tape and steel fencing wire.

Cleaned dismantled materials ready to be re-used
The upside- down kayak- in progress
Taping sharp edges
Final shape of the frame
Hung frame ready to be wrapped

The skin, again for expedience, was cling film (aka Saran wrap). This is cheap, lightweight, and self-amalgamating to a degree so all we had to do was wrap the whole thing a few times, then cut a hole in the deck to get into the kayak. It was a quick and relatively easy process. We hung the frame between two trees and just span the whole frame to wrap it. We’d estimate the total amount of plastic in this build to be in the order of 100 grams or so, so it’s not ideal but not too extreme.

Video: wrapping the skin

Wrapped kayak, ready to be tested

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

A more sustainable build would be to use the joining methods outlined above and a natural covering- our version 2 will be skinned with hemp cloth, which is of course not even slightly waterproof, impregnated with epoxy for waterproofing. The native Americans would use birch bark, which we don’t have access to, and the Inuit would use animal skins (which we’re not convinced of the sustainability of in our context, since we have different constraints).

First trial on the water, bamboo paddle was yet to be made

We’re not kayak specialists by any means, and we’ve never made one before, so naturally enough- mistakes were made and lessons were learned. With Matt’s 86kg+ (ahem!) weight, the freeboard was too low, about 40-50mm (this is the height from the waterline to the top of the deck, where water could slosh in). The next one will be taller and more voluminous. However, it was stable, tracked straight (despite the deck being a bit warped), and light to paddle.

Ben tested it with the bamboo paddle. Pic courtesy of Milly

Video: Milly had a try. Video courtesy of Ben

Big thanks to Cai-cai, Lucky and the Persimmon team whom always welcome and facilitate our crazy ideas. Persimmon in Danshan Chishui is our second home in China. We cycle/hike/camp often around this area, it is 60km away from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China where our China home is. Easily accessible on our bikes.


ABOUT KALA

KALA was founded by Mia and Elza Tedjosaputro, in May 2020. KALA provides high quality stylish home decor and accessories that highlight a few simple attainable changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. There is always an Indonesian touch ensuring we empower our craftsmen and promote Indonesian culture and craftsmanship. KALA’s specific design language is the use of natural materials and artisanal, with a sense of play of texture and product functionality. We are based in Indonesia and China.

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KALA x Gwen: Turn and re-use glass jars into soy wax candles

Giving your used glass jars some extra life!

At this beginning of 2021, we are celebrating craftsmanship by initiating four collaborations with local artisans in Ningbo, China. One of the four is Gwen, a Ningbo based candle maker. We are launching our joint initiative to re-use glass jars. I am pretty sure you will echo this sentiment of not enough projects to re-use the empty glass jars (apart from your favourite jam, pickles, sundried tomatoes, peanut butter, and many more). Well, I do.

It all clicked when I met Gwen (阿滚), the idea of giving more life (many more because you can keep sending them to us!) to these glass jars seem to resonate with both of us. In particular, it also ticks this idea of small steps towards more sustainable living in the most attainable form, the design language that KALA uses in each of our product. Now allow us to present the initiative we have been brewing for the last week or so.

Add Mia’s WeChat to get the delivery details and confirm your order. You can send us your jars (ideally labels will have been peeled and cleaned), and we’ll do the magic. You might want to wait for a bit as we’ll do them in batches of 5 jars to do it more efficiently. Prices can be found in the graphic below and delivery back to you is included.

An introduction about Gwen can be found in subsequent article.

Also if you have been practicing this DIY in your leisure time, do feel free to share to us your DIY tips. We would love to hear from them.

Important note: only for Shanghai and Zhejiang areas. Unless you have a big batch (>10) coming to us, it is not exactly environmentally friendly to ship them from all over the country- perhaps consider saving them up and doing a bulk order with your friends!

You can also view this article in our official WeChat account:

For English :  https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/awUP2E4j81Ll1SGBUsJnag

For Chinese (中文) : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/58wkn2k00SSiLSXxul36zQ


ABOUT KALA

KALA was founded by Mia and Elza Tedjosaputro, in May 2020. KALA provides high quality stylish home decor and accessories that highlight a few simple attainable changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. There is always an Indonesian touch ensuring we empower our craftsmen and promote Indonesian culture and craftsmanship. KALA’s specific design language is the use of natural materials and artisanal, with a sense of play of texture and product functionality. We are based in Indonesia and China.

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