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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Textile Travels

October 25 found our textile group gathered for a daytrip to Studio Naenna's eco-weaving workshop south of Chom Thong for a demonstration of weft ikat, as well as other weaving they are doing in silk and cotton. Patricia Cheesman's Studio Naenna is justifiably well known for their wearable art, conservation of traditional textile techniques and patterns, and for Patricia's innovative ikat designs. What I hadn't realized is that they are producing weft ikat textiles, which are not native to this part of Thailand, thanks to the expertise of weavers brought from Isaan over twenty years ago. Her master weaver is Viroy Nanthapoom, who hails from Surin (shown here winding ikat wefts).

We were shown the winding process for the wefts prior to tying,

as well as the tying process.

It is a very complex, elaborate method of patterning fabric, and entails tying dye resists on the yarns before they are woven. The resists determine the pattern, and are re-tied for each color.

Then the yarns are put onto the shuttle and woven as the weft, with alignment carefully achieved by the weaver.

The Thai tubeskirts from Isaan are famous examples of this type of textile, as are the richly colored and patterned silks from Cambodia. Studio Naenna uses this technique to produce beautiful scarves, wall hangings and shawls for their shops, and for special orders.

We later visited Ban Rai Pai Ngam, further down the road.

Home of the Pa Saeng Da Textile Museum, it is one of my favorite textile sites in Thailand, and includes a verdant entry along a lane lined in beautiful bamboo, a fine old teak house with museum above and worker's looms below, outbuildings with facilities for dyeing and winding yarns, and a shop with their lovely products. They use primarily natural colors and produce textiles with warp ikat accents. Patricia explained that originally this technique was used by the local tribal people and not by the Tai people, but Mrs. Saeng-da Bansiddhi adapted the technique for her weaving cooperative's textiles and became famous for it. (Late in her life she was recognized as a Thai National Artist.)

Now it is widely used in the cottons produced in the Chom Thong area. We were treated to demonstrations of the process of making cotton into thread prior to weaving: ginning the seeds and impurities out, then rolling it so that it can be spun; spinning with a wheel; then winding the yarns on a 'niddy noddy'.


After satiating our textile appetite we stopped at Kao Mai Lan Na Resort on the way back for some snacks and libations. Formerly a site comprising acres of tobacco-drying barns, much of it has been converted into a lovely resort with the vine-covered barns renovated as guest rooms.

Their attractive restaurant is just off the main road, at km marker 29, making it an ideal rest stop.

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