Life at the workshop in Banteay Chmar

24 August 2013

The workshops are real life spaces. Here, in the village of Banteay Chmar, everybody knows the “Soieries du Mekong” silk weaving center of weaving. The workshop opens very early, when the temperature is still mild and the humidity has not yet fully installed. All the handicraft people come from the village and its surroundings. It is 7:30 in the morning and a day of work is beginning. Psey Touch invites me to share her breakfast: some rice, marinated pork and chilli powder. She is in charge of the silk dyeing process and she has to sample colors for the new scarf collection. Preparing silk skeins and chemical dyes recipes, heating the water to boiling and deep dyeing the yarn until the color get fixated. Then drying the dyed skeins and start over and over again until you get the right colors.

In the warp room, Neakru is preparing a weaving warp for a new scarf sample. You can hear the thud noise of weaving looms in action, wooden shuttles moving from one side to the other unrolling the weft yarn, the popping sound of the metallic frames changing the intersection of the threads. The atmosphere is quiet and painstaking. On the ground floor of the central building, women are involved in the scarf finishing process. Finally upstairs on the first floor, the small silk accessories are being fashioned.

Everything is done with care and every meticulous step has been thought to be made by hand. Once the scarves are woven, they are collected are recovered, washed to be loosened and ironed by hand. Silk has to be taken care of like hair, washed with water and shampoo. Women are checking that there is no default and they remove the small threads which could be out of these hand woven pieces whose irregularity is also the beauty. At 5pm, the day is over. Everyone goes home. Tomorrow is another day.

Back to Cambodia Page