Cheryl Tiu x Charming Baldemor
Tell me a little bit about your brand—how/ when did you start it? What gave you the idea/ propelled you to start it? (Please kindly include the names of the members of your team)
CBS or Charming Baldemor Studios is a sculpting and painting company that offers quality decorative and functional handicrafts, as well as art pieces. We were established in 1997 in the “Carving Capital of the Philippines,” Paete, Laguna. CBS is my brainchild, having hailed from the Baldemor family of artists, where art is really the tool of the trade.
For me, CBS is centered on the intention to locally produce handcrafted products by combining original artistry and outstanding craftsmanship with the use of quality materials. Products showcased at the gallery promote awareness for various causes, especially women empowerment—which is the closest to my heart, being a female proprietor myself.
The CBS home workshop in Paete, is also a creative hub for local artists to develop a keen eye for detail and a mind for design. It serves as a space for artists, regardless of their level of experience, to share knowledge about their own media to other interested patrons of their field.
In 2014, we joined the FilipinaZ Fair (a fund raising project of Zonta Club of Makati and Environs), brought these huge art pieces, and did not make much sales. Since I badly wanted to pay it forward and support my advocacies, I came up with the bags (wearable art) to cater to what bazaar-goers would normally buy.
The more sales I made—the more contributions I gave to the fund raising event. Since then, the bags were well received (mostly by folk who are interested in more upscale pieces). What’s more is that there’s an increasing number of people who appreciate art now, so they better understand the value of each bag so they buy. It was later on that the bags were recognized by those in fashion, including bloggers and media.
With so much inspiration from fellow artists and supporters, I continue making bags alongside my decorative and functional sculptures.
Why did you decide to look into Philippine heritage for your inspiration, instead of say, global trends?
It all began with how much I love my hometown—Paete, and how the wood carving craft runs in my blood. With this, I grew up with a firm belief in Filipino artistry, and I knew that if I could contribute to inspiring and training more artisans to master the craft, then we’d be able to create products that are worth global appreciation and patronage.
As for my inspiration—it’s only natural that I have a nationalistic streak, which is what led me to explore regional arts, crafts, culture and heritage. I’m constantly amazed by the level of craftsmanship that Filipinos have and how they use this skill to express their heritage.
I use these motifs as inspiration for my work because I want the world to see that Filipino ingenuity is world-class. It’s about time (and I believe it will happen in my time!) that the world realizes that.
What are your inspirations for your designs? What makes your brand/ product unique?
My current line really focuses on wearable art—the bags. Each piece takes a bit of inspiration from Philippine flora and fauna, and I specialize in this.
Aside from that, I also explore the different regional industry crafts. To show my appreciation and awe for the work that’s already been made, I pay homage by recreating—in sculptural forms—these other art forms and crafts. And mind you, they’re not all originally from hard wood. For example, the HABI collection is based on the different weaving patterns used to make mats and baskets in the country. The ETNIKA collection is inspired by the different Metal Castings used by our ancestors.
All my bags are made by hand and are one of a kind. Each collection is unique since I only use upcycled or rescued wood. They are not mere accessories, they are art, and they carry the stories of the themes behind them and the wood used to create them.
What are some of your signature pieces? Please also share with me what materials you use.
My signature pieces are actually entire bag collections, following a central theme or motif for each.
The Tropical Collection—which is more evocative of our lush forests, flora and fauna;
The Habi Collection—which I created to pay tribute to our native Filipino hand-weaving tradition; and
The Bloom Collection—which showcases what I do best—realistic and intricate wooden depictions of flowers
All collections are created from upcycled wood including Narra stair steps, Ipil beams of an old house, and sustainably farmed Philippine Teak from Pangasinan.
What is the aspect of Filipino culture that Charming Baldemor aims to highlight?
It centers around these main themes:
First, that Filipinos are very Resilient. – despite the lack of available materials for the Paete industry, we manage to survive by being resourceful and creative with what’s available. Hence, where I learned to use upcycled material as well.
Second, that Filipinos Love Art. – we love to design creatively, to think intuitively, and have a passion for anything different and unique.
Is there a goal/ mission you aim to achieve with your brand? I understand that you espouse social consciousness as well.
I’m a big believer of women empowerment. Look at me, a female artist, literally carving my way into the industry by creating work that evokes the feminine spirit using traditional “masculine” materials like wood!
Aside from that, I want to share that my bags are not only art pieces, but that they support my advocacy to further support for women in the country. Part of the proceeds of the bags go to scholars and rescued women who are trying to get back on their feet.
How have your designs/ brand been received both in the Philippines and globally?
I’m fortunate to say that there’s a very receptive market in the country, especially by fellow women who are very supportive of my advocacy. More than that, the bags are widely-appreciated art pieces that have definitely caught the attention of many when I first joined FilipinaZ with the Zonta Club of Makati and Environs. And I’m glad to say that the support has been consistent over the years. Only recently as well, did I find another audience at the Design Commune by Manila Fame. It seems that there’s an appetite outside the country as well for pieces that are natural, well-made, and real, and I couldn’t be happier and more excited for what’s to come!