Laos is famous all over the world for its hand-woven silk. During a walk, we met Am Phone, a weaver from the north of the country. Her creations are now available in our shop.
Sitting on the porch of her house, Am Phone is working on a loom. Behind her hang brightly coloured silk threads that she will soon incorporate into her next works of art.
Am Phone has been weaving since she was 10 years old. Now 44 years old, she lives with her husband, daughter, and daughter’s family just outside of Luang Praband, a cute, ancient royal capital in northern Laos.
Every day, after the daily morning chores, Am Phone goes to work. Her wooden loom sits in a room that opens onto the road in front of their house. From the road, you can watch her perform the repetitive but meticulous tasks of silk weaving.
The silk threads are supplied by families in the area who raise silkworms. Most of the dyes used by Am Phone are natural. Each of the colours is obtained from traditional methods and products found in nature. The gentle yellow is the natural colour of one type of silk; blue comes from double-dipping the silk threads in fermented and boiled pots of indigo leaves. Red traditionally comes from the secretion of an insect found in the high mountain jungles. Orange results from a pokey tree seed pod. The dyes used by Am Phone are impregnated into the silk and the colours do not fade over time.
Since we met Am Phone, we have been working with them to produce scarves. The TerraClear scarves are designed to reflect the TerraClear flower logo. Using a traditional Lao woven flower motif to make a border at each end, TerraClear scarves are all woven by Am Phone and her daughter, Sulivan, who has followed her mother’s example in becoming a weaver. All the silk in the scarves is handwoven and sourced from hand-spun silk grown in Luang Prabang Province.
The creations of Amphone and Sulivan are available in our shop. All proceeds from sales will be donated to the TerraCare project, run by the SFE and the social enterprise TerraClear. This project provides water filters for rural families in Laos and teaches them basic hygiene.