Category Archives: bamboo

Miss Landmine and other "beauty" contests

The always interesting site, Global Voices, had an especially fascinating post about the Miss Landmine contest being canceled in Cambodia. As detailed in a statement in The Mirror, an overview the Khmer language press, The Ministry of Social Affairs Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation does not support the Miss Landmine contest, because it can create misunderstandings among the public towards the honor of disabled people, especially of disabled women. And, while I might not have worded it that way, I definitely agree.

Let me give some background. Many, if not most, of Three Stone Steps products are made in Cambodia. And, most are made by landmine and polio victims. In fact, Three Stone Steps’ silk and cotton producer has horribly disfigured hands due to something that happened to her during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror. She has never showed the slightest bit of discomfort with her appearance. In fact, why not just let you see her? (She’s the one in the gray shirt, and apologies for the bad photo of her):

Now for a very long aside:

Whether I like it or not, Three Stone Steps, which sells bags, wallets, scarves, and jewelry rolls, etc., is part of the “fashion” industry, or at least part of the “fashion accessory” industry. And, as a progressive and “green” business, I often gasp when some of my “eco-fashion” cohorts shoot photos of their organic cotton shirts or bamboo bamboo bags using conventional fashion magazine models and poses. Really, the way I look at it, if you’re going to take on conventional clothes and accessories, you may as well take on the conventional way that they’re shown.

But, now back to the the Miss Landmine contest. According to an article in The Guardian last year, the pageant was started by a male film and theater director from Norway. (According to the article, Norwegians find beauty pageants very “politically incorrect.” And, while I wouldn’t use a loaded term like “political correctness,” I also find them sexist and dehumanizing.) The pageant organizer thought that juxtaposition of a pageant and landmines was theatrical. He’s right. It got attention. It got me to write a blog post on it. But, of course, that doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s just as exploitative as regular beauty pageants, and on top of that, it reinforces Western notions of beauty.

So, in honor of the canceled Miss Landmine Pageant, below are pictures of some of the truly beautiful women who create Three Stone Steps’ products:

Except for the final photo, all of these photos are taken in the outskirts of Phnom Penh:

At the sewing machine:

Sewing beads on jewelry roll by hand:
Sewing by hand and by daylight:
Silk dyer, Takeo Province:

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Filed under bamboo, Cambodia, jewlery rolls, messenger bags, Phnom Penh, silk

Shooting in Outerspace. Booblehead Not Included.

I’m on the seemingly never ending journey of shooting my new products (many of which aren’t even here now, but I have samples. And, they should be here soon. Fingers crossed.)

Anyway, most of the photos are just suspended in outer space. You know, white background. A focus on the product. And, the photos end up looking like this:


Actually, these are lovely (and, in stock, although not on the Three Stone Steps site yet). I mean, who wouldn’t love a cute jacquard silk cosmetic bag and jewelry pouch set, fairly traded from Vietnam?

But, you know, shooting photos like this doesn’t exactly scratch one’s creative itch. (Ok. I did use my little light box outside, instead of inside with a lot of lamps. Chalk that up to my concern with my carbon footprint, my desire not to give our dastardly gas & electric company, BGE, one more cent, and wanting to be outside on a gorgeous day. And, that did provide some challenges, although not exactly of the creative kind.)

So, I moved on to shooting my very eco-chic bamboo earrings, which should be here Friday. At this point, I’m pretty much just testing. And, in a moment of incredible inspiration some weeks ago, I decided to name these the Let’s Go O’s earrings. (And, yes, they will be available in O’s orange.) And, what could be better than O’s earrings, than pairing them up with Cal Ripken?


I don’t really know if a photo like this will make it to the website, but, we’ll see. Bobblehead not included.

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Filed under Baltimore, bamboo, cosmetic bag, earrings, jewlery, jewlery rolls, silk, Vietnam

Even More Test Shots

It was a perfect overcast day for photography with my little point and shoot camera, so I decided to try out more photos in context.

All these items are from the Philippines, and should–fingers crossed, diety of your choice willing–will be here at Three Stone Steps by next week.

(This cute lime green bag is made from abaca, and lined with a used industrial plastic sack. The very sweet abaca flower is sold separately.)

Dangles made with bamboo, coconut bead, and some seed. They’ll be available in many hip and fun colors.

I’m least happy with this photo, although not with the product, which is a cute, summery clutch made out of seagrass, and line with recycled flour sacks.

Well, there you have it. Some new products shot in some new context. We’ll see just what I’ll end up doing with these photos when I get ready to load them to my site.

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Filed under bamboo, earrings, eco-chic, eco-fashion, Philippines, purse, recycled, seagrass