Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ock Pop Tok// East Meets West

   If you didn't notice by reading my previous post, I am newly obsessed with the silk making process and workings.

   Last week, I was able to visit a mulberry farm in Phonsavahn, Laos and learn all about it! This week, I got to join in the process while in Luang Prabang and learn how to weave silk- just like the Lao women, who start weaving at age 10!

   First, a tour of the beautiful facility where I would spend two full working days:

   After that, it was straight to work! First step: learning about the natural dyes. We each got to choose three colors to make and dye our own silk with!

   I went for Indigo- made from fermented indigo leaves, Monk Orange- made from annato seeds, and Chartreuse- made from lemon grass!

   After dipping and dyeing and washing and drying, we had a nice lunch, then we were on our way to spinning and weaving!

   Spinning: something that looks so simple, but takes a lot of getting used to! I had a hard time with this, but on day 2 (after convincing him to join me) Eliad was a pro his first time spinning silk!

   Weaving came a lot more natural for me and once I started, I never wanted to stop! I am not a weaving master like the ladies who have been weaving silk for 40+ years, but I am aspiring to be in the near future!!

   On Day 1, I was able to weave about 40 centimeters; 1/3 of the total length of the scarf- 120 centimeters:

   Day 2, after having some delicious Lao coffee with sweet milk, I went straight to work! Eliad went on to learn about dyeing silk as I did the day before, then after lunch we were weaving side by side.

My teacher, Papaing, overseeing. 
Eliad's final product (below): 50 centimeter placemat! He had more fun than expected and the ladies enjoyed laughing at him the whole day!

My final product (below): 120 centimeter scarf! I am still undecided if I will try and wear it or hang it on a wall.

   We both added silkworm cocoons to show our product was made 100% from silkworms, I think it adds a nice tribal feel to the scarf.

   In all, if you ever get the chance to take part in a silk weaving class, know that it comes highly recommended by me! Find out more @ Ock Pop Tok.


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