We had a free day today to do whatever we wanted to do. Yesterday afternoon, Libby had mentioned to Katy that she would like to go to the silk and hand-made paper factory and the handicraft village. Anita said she would like to go too, so I tacked on to the party as well. The cost for the tour was $USD40 so, between the 5 of us, it equated to $USD8 each.
Rick, Dave and Joe had thoughts of going to play golf but, when Kathy made enquiries, the cost was prohibitive at somewhere between $USD120-$USD140 for 18 holes – a ridiculous price so, all bets were off.
In the finish, Dave and Ted also came along with us girls, whilst (Mr) Kit took us around once again. Rick and Joe ended up walking up some mountain or other to the monastery up there and were then going to join Katy at the wharf to go to a nearby village, where she was going to go to visit a friend.
Firstly, we went by tuk-tuk to the silk factory, where we learnt all about the life-cycle of a silkworm, what they eat - their staple
The growth process of the silkworm goes through 4 different stages: Egg; Worm (Caterpillar); Pupa & Moth.
Each cocoon is then pulled apart in fine threads, joining the thread of each one to make longer lengths, dyed by natural vegetable colours – leaves, bark, flowers etc. then finally spun into spools of thread. Each cocoon can produce as much as 1500 metres of very fine silk thread. For something so fine, the thread is very strong.
We were able to watch the women spinning and then weaving the silk fabric into scarves, table runners and other items – mostly patterned lengths of different widths that you could use for whatever use you want – table runners, lengths to place across the end of your bed, wall hangings, etc.
We were able to take photos and, at the end, wandered into the attached “shop” where
Of course, bargaining is a way of life in most Asian countries and, this was no different so, I walked away, very happy with my purchases and also in the knowledge that I hadn’t lost my touch with this skill. Like anything, it always pays to do your homework beforehand, and know what is considered a fair price for both you, and your vendor.
Last of all, if you feel you aren’t getting a good deal – you always need to be prepared to walk away. They will follow you if they are prepared to sell you the item and usually for the price you negotiated (if it was reasonable) or, close to. It all depends on how you play the game. 😊 Of course, if it’s something that you really want, and just have to have, you
Next door was the hand-made paper shop where we saw a lady making a large sheet of paper, embedded with leaves, flowers, etc. The basis of the paper is bark from a tree which is boiled for long periods to soften it, then it is beaten to break it up into a pulp mixed with water until it becomes like a slurry, then placed onto a large frame with a sieve-like bottom.
The frame is kept submerged in shallow water to keep the “pulp” moist whilst she then arranges the leaves, etc, over the surface and, once she has the desired pattern right, then gently pats the slurry with her fingers to “mix” the slurry and the decorative items together so that the flowers, etc aren’t left just sitting on the sieve-like bottom of the frame.
When she has the design as she wants it, then she carefully lifts the frame off the base and lets the excess water drain away over the next few minutes then the frame is sat out in the sun to dry – about
The finished article is beautifully-decorated hand-made paper with a rustic, rough finish to it that can be used for all kinds of things, which they also had for sale – book covers, photo frames, fans, Tree of Life wall-hangings, etc.
Whilst here, we also watched one of the artisans making sand pictures. Firstly, he would hand-draw the design onto the background canvas and then, carefully, begin to fill in the picture with very fine sand of a greyish/fawny colour.
To enable the sand to stick to the background, he would use PVA glue to fill in the design – in this case, a leaf and stalk, one, or two, at a time, as he was making a large picture of The Tree of Life. He would then carefully sprinkle the fine sand onto the glue, whilst also blowing the excess sand away, leaving only the leaf and stalk completely covered.
It was terribly painstaking work but, it was fascinating to stand and watch his creation gradually coming together. Talk about this creation needing lots of patience. Our artist had many pictures, of all sizes, for sale, some framed and others
I bought granddaughter, Erin, a lovely fan, a couple of bookmarks for other family members, as well as a vertical trio photo frame, two small bedside lanterns with images of monks in their saffron robes on them (very Lao 😊 ) Last of all, and something that I just couldn’t resist, a new lampshade for a spare bedroom at home, that has an Asian theme, so that I could replace the current round, red, rice-paper one. 😊 All of these items made from hand-made paper, such as we had seen being created a short while ago.
After this, it was back into the tuk-tuk to go and visit another village and the handicraft centre. This was like a co-op where a number of different families come each day to display their handcrafts. Some of the families are from surrounding hill tribe villages.
Here again, the items were mostly “runner”-type lengths of silk/cotton or pure silk fabric for you to use as you wished, as they could have several different uses,
We spent about ¾ of an hour there, I suppose, before heading back to the hotel. Each of us had purchased something, with me buying a beautiful, 2-metre length about 15” wide, which I will use as a wall-hanging when we get back home.
Back “home” again at the hotel by 11-45am, we ran into Jim who had just come in after a wander around town this morning who asked what we were doing. Earlier, the rest of us had decided to go and have lunch once we had returned to the hotel and to all meet back in the lobby at 12-30pm.