How often do you stop to really think about just how much craftsmanship and effort went into making something you own or see?
By my senior year as an art history major in college, I found myself jaded and no longer impressed with the masterpieces I was studying. This made me very uneasy given the degree I was about to receive, so I decided to take a painting class my last semester. Luckily I passed, but it was one of the most challenging courses I had ever taken. It put things in perspective very quickly and gave me a renewed appreciation of the arts.
I am overcome with this same respect and awe each time I have a chance to watch our weavers at work. I always feel grateful when I have the opportunity to be there and see them creating our products firsthand. They have such focus and grace on the loom as they steadily pedal their feet to coordinate with their arms weaving back and forth, thread by thread.
And the human touch goes beyond just the weaving. In this post I want to share just how many handmade elements go into making our new Salai beach throws before they reach your hands. You are truly investing in both the livelihood of artisans and the preservation of their tradition through the purchase of our products. I hope you will be reminded of how your Salai came to life each time you take it out in the world, because it is infused with truly individual care and attention.
The cotton thread is hand-dipped in boiling pots of dye, on and off for hours, until the right color is achieved. It’s then line-dried in the intense Cambodian sun for a day before it is ready for the loom.
Setting up the loom usually takes a couple of days. One set up can yield around 30-40 throws.
Weaving one throw can take 1-2 days to complete depending on both the complexity of the pattern and also the time of year since our weavers live in the countryside where they participate in the harvest season.
Watch as Chen Ly weaves the Sea Salai beach throw, coordinating the various thread components on the loom with her hands and feet.
Srey Noeun measures the Sun Salai to ensure it's the right length before cutting it from the loom.
Once cut off the loom, the ends are hand-knotted into twisted fringe. Nop makes this process seem deceptively easy in the video below, but several of our volunteers tried on our recent visit and struggled with the task, myself included.
Upon completion, the beach throws are washed and inspected for quality before the krama wheel labels are hand sewn into the corner as a final stamp of approval.