• loominousuk

The Co-operative Tour: How It's Made

Updated: Nov 26, 2019

Wonder how did our lovely products came to be? Let us take you through a short trip to find out how our artisans from Ha Giang create your bags and purses. 

The hemp used to weave our products are planted and grown by the artisans themselves. Usually, they find an area where the soil is not too fertile. Why you ask? It's because they don't want the hemp to grow too much, making them too thick. After the artisans harvested the hemp, they cut off all leaves and branches, leaving the remaining stalks to dry completely for around two weeks. The stalks are peeled by hand to make fibre - this explains why it wasn't allow to grow too big - and then pounded to remove the hard bark. After that, the artisans connect strings of fibre together, and again, with their own hands. This is in preparation to spin it later on a wooden spinning wheel to enhance the durability of hemp fibre.

Whitening comes next. In order to dye the fibre in a later step, the artisan boil it with ash several times over a couple of days. When the fibre is thoroughly rinsed off of the dark colour it used to have, it is ready to be woven. The Hmong artisan weave the cloth on a wooden back strap loom using one foot to pull single heddle. The finished cloth still needs repeated washing for a month to make sure it has a proper white hue.

Achieving natural colours is no small feat. The artisans have to find different types of plants to dye each colours. For example, brown is extracted from yam; indigo is, of course, from indigo etc. Each dying session can last for several hours and is usually done early in the morning. The use of natural dye material gives the cloth a natural look that can't be replicated by artificial means.

To make the cloth smooth, shiny and flat, the artisans press it between a log and a stone. Then they stand on the log, start swinging left and right several time. The friction created by their movement generates heat which results in the cloth getting softened and brightened up. It is now ready to be cut and sewn into many beautiful products we bring you here.

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