|Jane Grey, with daughter Stella|
Made in Haiti from recycled materials and adorned with eco-friendly paints, Stray Dog Designs’ Papier-Mâché Collection represents several new directions for designer and founder Jane Grey.
Grey: As a medium, papier-mâché was a big departure for us. It’s the same thing you made in elementary school with newspaper and Elmer’s Glue or flour and water. You just put so many layers on, and it dries really hard. You don’t see it around much anymore, but every once in a while you’ll run into antique papier-mâché.
|Stray Dog Designs’ papier-mâché Artichoke lamp in Bahamian Sea Blue.|
We started out with lighting, which has consistently been the strongest component of our company, and now we also have a few accessories and mirrors and tables. Our papier-mâché looks very different from our tin [offerings]. It’s much more organic looking. All of our stuff is handmade, but you can really tell this is; sometimes you can even see the texture of the newspaper and boxes used to make it. At first I thought that was going to bother me, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.
The place where our papier-mâché is made is also a big change for us. Our glass, tin and iron pieces are made by artisans in Mexico, where half the population lives in poverty. Papier-mâché can be done anywhere in the world, of course, but we chose Haiti because the country is having such a hard struggle; almost 80 percent are unemployed. We figured that anyone, even [those] without an infrastructure, can do papier-mâché.
We initially did the [line] in white, which is unlike us because we’re all about color. But the artisans in Haiti were new to working with us, and the designs we were giving them were so different from anything they had been doing, I thought it would be best to keep the job as simple as possible. Also, because it is such a poor country, it is really hard for them to get paint that would match our Benjamin Moore colors. We [recently] decided to paint things ourselves here in the States using water-based, low-VOC [volatile organic compounds] paints. Considering the large amount of products coming from overseas that contain high levels of toxic chemicals, we are ecstatic to have found paint that is safe for the environ-ment, our customers and our employees. At the Atlanta Market in January, we introduced 12 new colors. People loved the white, but we are really best known for our bright colors.