One of the most rewarding things to come from taking up blogging has been the number of people I have come in contact with, people I’d otherwise never have become friends with, or even met at all. One of my early contacts was Jon, an Englishman living in Thailand. We’d have ongoing discussions about important matters such as rare and exotic denim, until the the Jon mentioned a village he’d heard about, and would I be interested in hearing more?
One thing led to another and today I have the first fruit of this endeavour, a small pile of scarves produced in a strictly limited number with the “WDD” label on them. A proud moment!
Yet my part if the process is quite minor, so let me do a show and tell about what really goes into one of these scarves.
The women in the village take care of the entire process. This includes:
- Growing and harvesting the locally grown cotton
- Harvesting the Indigofera plant and making the dye for the indigo vats
- Processing the cotton, spinning and dyeing the yarn
- Hand weaving the scarves on manual looms
There is a tremendous amount of manual skill and labour that goes into every step of this process. There is little use of modern equipment, things are done in the traditional way in this remote village. In the interest of transparency, let me show you a video of how the cotton is processed after being picked, removing the seeds from the fibres and through to being spun into yarn.
Once the cotton has been turned into yarn, it is time for it to be dyed. Whereas most of the “indigo dye” these days is produced synthetically, this is the real deal. The Indigofera leaves are harvested and then soaked in water and fermented to produce the characteristic colour.
And finally the yarn can be turned into scarves, one weft at a time, in the traditional way. Try taking the time for each round, then work out how long it takes to do 2 full metres. Now sit back and appreciate the effort that has gone into weaving your new scarf. Quite something.
Ensuring that no exploitation takes place the women are encouraged to name the price they feel is fair for their efforts, and then we add an extra bonus upon delivery. The fact that the product is made with no resentment or exploitation in any part of the process is an important part of the final result.
This is the first of my indigo projects. There will be more.
Would you like to own your own piece of this remarkable venture? There are a small number for sale at 55 pounds a piece, including airmail shipping to your home. See the For Sale page for further details.