Following the silk trail in Thailand
Our search for the origins of silk and getting to know more about the craftsmanship behind it led us to Isaan province, a poorer and less visited region of Thailand, but home to the famous silk road. On the kind recommendation of Lina Christensen from Tactus, a specialist in finding craftmanship in Thailand – we got introduced to Wasan Sombatmaithai who spent the entire day, teaching us about the process of silk, from moth to fabric. He got his expert knowhow from his grandfather, who passed it down to his father and uncle, and today we visited their three family run shops and two factories around Surin.
In Isan, it is not uncommon to find entire villages who practice the delicate craftmanship of carefully breeding and farming the silk moth, dying and weaving by hand, and caring for every detail of the natural protein fiber.
Most factories have capacity to weave by machine – giving the fabric a clean surface. But the more traditional way of making Thai silk is by hand, which gives a more textured feel to the fabric. This fantastic skill is traditionally passed on from mother to daughter in the villages here in Isaan. This is great way for women to be employed while being able to care for their children at home.
Silk is no simple process. Each step requires the utmost skill. And you will not understand your end product (stiffness, softness, colour), if you do now know which type of cocoon, numbers of threads, how many shafts used for making the fabric, and something like 15 other variables. We cannot thank Wasan and his family enough for making us a whole lot smarter.