Buying Trip 2016: The Boho Beauty of Bali’s Handmade Batik

 

Pete and Kim Erskine are on their annual sojourn to source

the clothing, accessories and décor you can’t wait to shop

this spring. They wrote in from the road to rave about their

latest find—the intricate, irresistible, breezy batiks crafted

by hand in Bali.

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Every year, Pete and Kim Erskine spend February and March searching their favorite world markets, remote villages, shops and studios for fresh finds to fill our stores. It’s a family tradition that always turns up treasures. And in Bali, it turned into a behind-the- scenes look at the time, craft and creativity that goes into the ancient art of batik—the Indonesian art of hand-decorating cottons and silks with wax and dyes.

Batik is a particular passion of their son, Chauncey, who came along on this year’s trip. He was particularly excited to spend time with our main batik supplier and see how these traditional textiles made by hand for our stores. “It’s the same principle as the wax crayon in the Easter egg dye kits you may have used as a kid,” Chauncey says. “But taken to this whole other level. The amount of time, artistry and hard work that goes into handcrafting piece is unbelievable.”

“The hot wax is hand-drawn or pressed on the fabrics using intricately handcarved wooden stamps,” he explains. “When the fabrics are plunged into the dyes, the wax repels the colors and reveals designs that can be centuries old or inspired by contemporary life.”

“Those patterns are often very meaningful,” Pete adds. “There are designs that are used only for baby slings, or brides, or particular religious or cultural observances. Every handstamped batik tells a different story.”

 

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The results are completely unique—and breathaking. This time of year, batik is also a breath of fresh air. Wandering around the racks of drying batiks in the sweltering humidity outside of Denpasar, Kim couldn’t stop thinking about ways to weave these jeweled colors and elaborate patterns into her life.

“Back home, we’re all so ready to throw open the windows and pack away the wool,” Kim says. “Spring and summer are the perfect time to bring in batik. It’s just this wonderful, wearable art form.” Kim loves the laid-back luxury of a body-skimming batik dress or the pop of color a boho batik scarf can bring to any outfit.

She’s also excited to decorate with batik at home. Handmade batik sarongs make effortless window treatments that filter sunlight and let in fresh breezes. Layering one (or two!) batik  sarongs over your bedspread is an easy way to brighten up your bedroom. And batik sarongs also belong in everyone’s beach bag—they quickly transform into bold and bright sun tents, casual swim cover-ups, or an extra bit of warmth around a bonfire. You can even try your hand at traditional textile crafting too, with traditional handcarved wooden block print stamps.

Inspired by the craft, colors and community around them, Pete, Kim and Chauncey are placing orders and looking forward to celebrating the traditional Balinese New Year with friends before continuing their travels.

“Our shipping container from Bali is filling up fast,” Pete tells us cheerfully. “And it’s our second container in less than a year!” Check out the latest batik colors and patterns here.

Mexicali News: The Mexicali TieDyeMobile is Ready to Rock the Roads of Maine!

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Mexicali’s new TieDyeMobile makes sunshine daydreams come true!

Mexicali Blues has just unveiled a new delivery vehicle that matches the Mystery Machine in grooviness, and just might rival LL Bean’s Bootmobile in SPG (Smiles Per Gallon)! “Driving down the road making people smile embodies the Mexicali Experience!” says Co-Owner Kim Erskine. Mexicali’s new TieDyeMobile is a 2015 Mercedes Sprinter delivery van adorned all over with a vibrant rainbow burst of tie dye, thanks to an all-around awesome job by Adventure Advertising out of Rockport, ME! The choice of tie dye was an easy one, as expressed by Mexicali Owner & Founder, Pete Erskine: “Tie Dye is my favorite color!” This Sprinter was chosen for its fuel efficiency, reliability, and aesthetic appeal, all of which are highly complimented by the kaleidoscopic swirling colors of tie dye.”27 miles per gallon made the Sprinter the responsible choice; tie dye made it the right Mexicali choice” says Topher Mallory, CEO.

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The awesome Adventure Advertising team all decked out in tie dye to match their amazing work!

In the coming months and years it will be beaming psychedelic rainbow awesomeness all over the state of Maine, from Pemaquid Lighthouse to Portland’s Maine State Pier, all the way to Bangor’s Waterfront Concert Pavilion, and at all of the college campuses in-between. You may even find the TieDyeMobile at the picturesque perch on top of beautiful Cadillac Mountain! If you find yourself wondering “Where is the TieDyeMobile?” you can follow its adventures on instagram @tiedyemobile, and keep your eyes peeled as it may be rolling through a town near you! Moreover, just as the Batmobile responds to the Bat Signal, the Tiedyemobile is more likely to appear if you are wearing a tie dye, so color up your closet, and unleash your tie dye vibes on the world!

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The TieDyeMobile brightens up the Old Port in Portland, Maine!

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Mexicali co-owners Pete and Kim Erskine beaming colorful tie dye vibes!

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The TieDyeMobile lights up Freeport, Maine!

Mexicali Blues Receives 2013 Retailer of the Year Award—Thank You, Retail Association of Maine!

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(From left to right) Curtis Picard–Executive Director of the Retail Association of Maine, Topher Mallory–Mexicali Blues CEO, Julie Baker Leaden–Mexicali Bangor Store Manager, Stephanie McNally–Mexicali Raymond Store Manager, and Chris Cummings–Mexicali Freeport Store Manager.

The Retail Association of Maine awarded Mexicali Blues the 2013 Retailer of the Year Award last Friday!  While Mexicali owners Pete & Kim were unable to attend because they are currently traveling in Nepal, CEO Topher and store managers Julie, Stephanie, and Chris were there to share in the Mexicali love and accept this awesome award.  Senator Susan Collins was there to accept the Jim McGregor Government Service award for her work as a champion of small businesses, and said some really kind things about Mexicali which we will never forget!

012When Topher stepped up to the podium to accept the award, he represented the funky and fun Mexicali style well when he removed his dapper pink tie to reveal a colorful Mexicali tie dye tee.  As he accepted the award, he emphasized the importance of all the people who consistently support this family-based operation, allowing us to do what we love and do it well. We LOVE traveling and sharing the awesome things we find, but it is the cool and groovy people who work in Mexicali stores and all of the amazing Mexicali shoppers who we are so grateful to meet and know that make Mexicali Blues what it is, and what has earned us this award.  So we would like to offer a heartfelt THANK YOU, to the Retail Association of Maine, to the whole Mexicali team, and to everyone who shops with us.  We are honored to be involved with so many amazing people and communities both locally and abroad, and we couldn’t do it without you!

We are SO Honored & Proud! Mexicali Blues named 2013 Retailer of the Year

“The board of directors of the Retail Association of Maine recently chose Mexicali Blues of Newcastle, Maine as its 2013 Retailer of the Year.

The Retailer of the Year Award has three main criteria: continued growth in employees or sales; commitment of company resources to community projects; and creation of a positive work environment for all employees. Mexicali Blues surpassed the criteria on all counts. While a great number of qualified retailers were considered, Mexicali Blues was chosen because of exceptional local and global commitment and sustainability.”

Yay, us!  We’re so honored to have been chosen for this awesome award!   You can learn more about the award, and what makes working for, shopping at, and being a part of Mexicali Blues so very awesome, right here: http://www.retailmaine.org/blog/2013/09/30/mexicali-blues-named-2013-retailer-year/

Mexicali News: Newcastle Store is Really Taking Shape!

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Mexicali News: The Tile Mandala Grows!

Mexicali News: The Tile Mandala Grows!

Here’s a quick sneak peek at the tile mandala being created for our new Newcastle store by the ultra-talented Heather Casey. The tile she is using is handpainted mosaic tile we brought back from a trip to Indonesia, and the design is inspired by the many traditional mandalas we’ve seen and loved on our travels!

Mexicali News: Color & Creativity Abound in the Design of the Newcastle Store

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Things are really coming along in the construction of our new flagship store! We are now starting to bring the creative touches that we’ve envisioned to the design of the store. Down to details like using recycled wood from Bali, or embracing colors and patterns that we’ve fallen in love with on our travels, we’re working to make our flagship shore distinctly Mexicali, reflecting our love of groovy global culture through and through!

The tile is being done by the ultra-talented Heather Casey.   The tile she is using is handpainted mosaic tile we brought back from a trip to Indonesia.  She is working on arranging it into the shape of an intricate Tibetan Mandala.  Check out more of her work right here.

The timbers shown in the photos are being recycled or re-purposed as trim in the new store.  They used to be part of a real tiki hut in Bali!

The roof line is now ornamented with some really fun accent pieces that we think reflect the Mexicali Blues style, and ties the building to some of the traditional structures we so commonly see in our travels to Asia.  Becker Construction created them for us off of an idea Mexicali owner Pete drew on a napkin in an early design meeting!

Mexicali News: Eco-Friendly Insulation at the Newcastle Store

Although we’re not actively pursuing LEED certification for our new store, we are trying to implement as many energy efficient/green building aspects as possible, hoping to reduce our environmental impact & be kind to our planet. One part of that is this crazy-looking cellulose insulation!

photo 2Cellulose insulation is made from 75-85% recycled paper fiber–usually post-consumer waste newsprint (the remaining 15% is fire-retardant material).  Cellulose is a favorable way to insulate according to the US Green Building Council, as it meets the standards of two LEED catagories: energy & atmosphere performance (meaning the insulation will help us to use less energy to keep the building heated & cooled), and materials & resources recycled content (because it’s made from recycled materials). Pretty cool, right? We think so!  Just one more reason that we’re super stoked about this new space!

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Mexicali News: Newcastle Store Update

It’s got a roof! It’s got walls! It’s ALMOST a super awesome Mexicali Blues store!

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Mexicali News: Revamping the Portland Store w/ Hard Work & Awesomeness

Some companies pay big money for team building or experiential stuff.  We just take on a 1200 sq foot wood floor with a 48 hour deadline!

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Our gorgeous goods were not complimented by the dingy old floor of our Portland store, and we decided it was time to do something about it!  Though the store itself has always emanated good vibes, looking down revealed a worn and scuffed design that no longer fit the evolution of Mexicali from Deadhead tees and Guatemalan baskets to an eclectic array of sophisticated yet funky fashions. . . the time to take action had come!  A small Mexicali crew was formed to take on this daunting yet doable task:  company owners Pete & Kim, CEO Topher, merchandising manager Steve, store manager Meg, and awesome employees Kelly & Jim.  Topher had a bit of experience from laying down new flooring in his home, but for everybody else, this was a completely new experience!

They worked tirelessly for two days, laughing and listening to sweet tunes as they went (which makes every task-load seem a bit lighter!), first stripping the original flooring, and then putting in the new, piece by piece.  At the end of the second day, their valiant efforts were rewarded with a gorgeous floor that makes our original Portland space look like a brand new store: lighter, brighter, and filled with awesome energy!   Surveying their completed project, the Mexicali team felt extraordinarily proud of their hard work and so pleased that the new look more accurately reflects the earthy elegance and eclecticism of Mexicali clothing and accessories.  Be sure to stop by and check out the revamped store, bask in the groovy glow of pretty paper lanterns reflecting off our shiny new floor, and fall in love with our huge selection of brand new clothing and accessories for Spring!