Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chiang Mai Thailand

More textile adventures, this time with pictures. We drove with friends from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, which is really the center for crafts and fabrics in Thailand. We visited a village that makes bamboo umbrellas, and stopped at the factory of Thailand's second largest silk manufacturer, Shinawatra. We were greeted with little silk blossom boutonnier pins and refreshing drinks offered by pretty Thai girls. They had weavers working out back, weaving and preparing a striped warp and nice live demonstrations of silkworm cultivation and spinning. The native silk in Thailand makes a brilliant yellow cocoon, and the silk is a pale creamy gold. They raise Chinese white cocoons too.The shop was amazing and they let us take pictures. Prices for silk were about $ 15-$20/yd, comparable to what I pay for much poorer quality doupioni at home. They had lovely prints and batiks, as well as stylish finished garments.

The next day we drove to the farm of a woman who was considered a cultural treasure. It is now a museum with an active cotton weaving center. She almost single handedly revived weaving cotton as a cottage industry and all the fibers were dyed with natural dyes in lovely old ceramic dye pots. It was POURING rain so they had sent the weavers home. The looms were in the space under the lovely old stilted teak traditional house. We could not take pictures indoors. I will try to unpack some of my purchases soon and send pictures of them.

Tonight we are in a lovely retreat on the Mekong River, across from Laos. My former AFS daughter has just pulled out all the stops for this visit. I have to say my husband is being a really good sport about all this textile emphasis, as well as the food adventures. He is not wild about spicy food and fish, so I am the official taster.

Pictures added later.

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