The Silk Generation

Cambodia’s Silk-Weaving Revival

Founder of Craft Village Naiseng Lang embodies a new generation of hope in the textile industry. Lang began the company in 2009, bringing together regional artisans, mostly women, living in remote villages, to create high quality and fashion silk scarves. The handwoven textiles, gorgeously rendered, represents the values of the company- respect for generations past and to come, religion, family, Cambodian life, and the spectacular vistas of the country itself.

The tradition of silk weaving has long been handed down from mother to daughter. Craft Village respects this culture by offering home-based weavers continuous training and providing access to the international marketplace. By providing artisans with the ability to work from home and tend their families, they help replace the established trade factory model, notorious for poor working conditions and low wages. The company also works in alliance with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Artisans’ Association of Cambodia (AAC). This alliance creates the diversity needed to reduce poverty in rural areas, create more jobs, and increase women’s income.

AAC, established in 2001, benefits artisans by coordinating with the World Rehabilitation Fund, the United Nations Development Program, and the International Labour Organization. These organizations work together with Craft Village and other like-minded companies and organizations to promote fresh approaches to economic solutions and integrate landmine survivors, and those with disabilities as well as other vulnerable groups.

In the last year, Craft Village, with the aid of ITC, has diversified its product line to appeal to modern consumers, preserve the weaving culture, and increase export sales by sixteen percent. Sales have risen over fifty percent and Lang now employs fifteen contracted weavers. In the wake of civil war, the silk weaving industry plays a vital role in reducing poverty levels and empowering women. The textile industry alone generates ninety percent of Cambodia’s export revenue.

Craft Villages motto is, “Nature is our inspiration, people are our motivation.” (http://craftvillage.biz). Each of their textiles are handwoven, eco-friendly, and AZO free. The finished textiles come from various providences throughout Cambodia, showcasing exquisite design and rich detail. Scarves can be hand-painted, deep-dyed, or a luxurious combination of organza and raw silk. Patterns include diamond motives, or the traditional Ikat design.

The Ikat design is a technique employed to pattern textiles with a resist dye. This process is comparable to tie-dye on either the warp or weft fibers. It’s such an intricate design that one piece can take up to three months to complete. As with all silk textiles, it begins with silk worms who feed on the mulberry tree, which can grow wild but is often farmed. The worm spins its cocoon and workers remove the worm, spinning either fine or raw silk. The warp is prepared before weaving begins. The weaving itself can require both hands and feet to complete the intended pattern. For the Ikat, multiple ties are made on the silk. The pattern is made by tying off the areas required for certain colors. The dyeing process is time-consuming and must be completed before the weaving itself can begin.

Each collection through Craft Village symbolizes a slice of Cambodia and its courageous hope for the future.

Craft Village will be exhibiting at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from August 21-24.

For more information, please visit http://www.craftvillage.biz

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