Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Settling in at Ock Pop Tok

 Already, on the first day, before sleeping at all after an overnight journey from Doha, I was surrounded by textile stimuli. I'm staying at the villa of Ock Pop Tok's Living Crafts Centre, for the time being, which means I'm in the thick of the beauty and creation.
Weavers are constantly at work all day, turning silk threads into supplementary weft pieces of extreme skill. There are discontinuous (photo below) and continuous supplementary weft works in progress, as well as weavings that incorporate mut-mee weft ikat. I've watched long enough to finally make sense of the vertical heddle storage system (photo above) that keeps the patterns for the supplementary weft handy. I had seen this before but had never quite understood how it worked.
This is the largest complicated piece in progress. Kiang's hands are a blur as she whips the weft threads through the shed, working her way across nearly a meter of warp width. I also met a backstrap weaver who taught me how to improve my fringe twisting by using a thigh roll (the ancient way of thigh spinning yarn, by the way.) I'm very bad at it, so I've been trying to practice.
The location cannot be beat - that's the Mekong River flowing by.
Oh, and I've already bought yarn:
That was all yesterday, the very day I flew in. Which is an incredible experience, in itself. If you ever fly into Luang Prabang, you want your camera handy before the plane even lands.
No wonder my head was spinning so much I could hardly sleep, in spite of the desperate need to catch up on a missed night.

Today I have observed, filmed, and slightly helped with winding a huge cotton warp, and learned how to tie a knot from the woman who was warping (Yes, a knot. Even for the most basic things, there's nothing like an experienced mentor to demonstrate an efficient way. And when it comes to knots in warps, I want to learn from the most experienced people possible.)
I've also done some cotton spinning on a charka - !! If I knew they had charkas sitting around, I would have brought all my cotton. But that can also be found, I'm sure.
Shared my backstrap weaving projects with Kiang, of the super complex weaving above, who has seen such weaving because she went to an event in Santa Fe and got to meet weavers from South America.

So far I've learned at least one new thing and made at least one new friend a day. My mind may never settle, but that may be a good thing.

Here's where I am: Ock Pop Tok

1 comment:

Linda said...

So cool that you get to do this!! and so cool that you are sharing your experience!!!