Sunday, July 11, 2010

Laotian weaving workshop

Recently, I attended a Lao textile workshop through the Silverado Guild taught by Kongthong Nanthanvongdouangsy of Phaeng Mai Gallery. Phaeng Mai Gallery does the whole process from reeling silk to dyeing with natural dyes to weaving and finishing. They do beautiful woven fabrics, both traditional and modern, and run a school to train future master weavers.

The fabrics they make are amazing:
We started off watching a video about the gallery and weaving school and learning a bit about traditional Lao weaving. Then we picked out a cloth we liked and charted the pattern.
Meanwhile the students who had done the workshop the day before were trying to alter a table loom to use supplemental warp weaving techniques.
Barbara's workshop loom was modified to set it up for Lao weaving. The shafts were removed and additional bars placed across the top of the frame to hold the vertical pattern strings, two plain weave shafts and a reed/beater.

Here are the string heddles for the two plain weave shafts. These shafts were attached to two treadles.The pattern is picked according to the graph, then transferred to the pattern strings in the back of the loom. The pattern strings "save" the pattern so that once it's been picked once, you can pull it up again without repicking it.
Here's Debra spreading the pattern threads so the next pattern weft can be thrown.Dyed silk used as weft. We used several of these strands at once for the thicker pattern weft, less for the plain weave weft. For each "line" of the graphed pattern, there were two picks thrown of the pattern weave alternating with plain weave.

Our group sample:

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