28 May 2012
Scarves support traditional Laos silk makers
RMIT University textile design students have handprinted designs onto handwoven silk scarves to raise money for a not-for-profit organisation working with traditional silk producers in Laos.
The sale of one scarf will enable Lao Sericulture to buy three water filters for remote villages that undertake traditional silk production and weaving in Laos.
The Scarf Project - a collaboration between Lao Sericulture, silk co-operative Mulberries and second-year Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) students - was facilitated by Moral Fairground, an organisation that raises awareness and promotes fair trade and ethical business in Australia.
The project aims to raise money for Lao Sericulture's work building toilets and supplying water filters for schools and hospitals in villages involved in the traditional silk trade.
Kommaly Chanthavong from Mulberries, a small-scale fair trade co-operative in Laos, visited RMIT at the start of the project to speak to students about her work and what fair trade meant to the small communities and isolated villages in Laos.
"I've spent over 40 years championing traditional silk production, handweaving practice and natural dyes with an aim to encourage and support villagers to return to their traditional textile and agricultural practices," Ms Chanthavong said.
Verity Prideaux, Lecturer in the Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design), said the interaction with Ms Chanthavong raised questions for the students about the production and use of silk fabric within the textile industry.
"Silkmaking has a long history in Laos - almost every home has a silk loom - but the traditional methods are labour-intensive, taking three to four weeks to weave just one silk scarf by hand," Ms Prideaux said.
"Students researched, experienced and compared the larger and smaller ends of silk production, working towards a rationale for their personal ethics and choices related to purchasing and using silk fabrics for their printed designs."
Working with dyes, the students produced handpainted or printed floral motif designs on the Mulberries silk scarves.
The $150 scarves supporting Lao Sericulture can be bought from the Moral Fairground website.
The sale of the scarves will help support the work of Lao Sericulture.
Design by Megan McNeill.
Design by Jodi Andrews.
Design by Loredana Camarata.
Design by Esther Sandler.
Mulberries' Kommaly Chanthavong (centre) with students and their designs.
Students Jodi Andrews and Megan McNeill working on a scarf.
Design by Ella Schwartz.
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