Off to Thailand and Laos to Meet the Artisans

December is the beginning of weaving season, so we're heading to Thailand and Laos to work once again with our artisan partners over the next few months. We'd like to introduce you to a few of the people with whom we work. These women (and one man) coordinate and collaborate with us on orders. Sometimes we meet in shops they are proud to own or rent; other times we meet them in their villages. They then work directly with the weavers on the making because they know best which woman enjoys weaving a particular design or who is known to make a special colour. The yarn creation, natural dyeing and weaving is usually done at home in the artisans' villages; other times it's done in community textile spaces.

Some of our partners speak English; many don't -- but this is not a barrier to communication, just a fun challenge. Between Alleson's Thai, the help of friends and photos of pieces we've ordered before, we manage just fine.

We're excited about our visits and continue to nurture these long-standing relationships, one of the pillars of fair trade. And as always, we plan to visit some new groups and explore working more closely together.

Our good friend Pii Yai and Alleson pose with staff at Panmai, a Thai women's weaving co-op. They specialize in silk weaving and are known for their natural dyeing skills.

Alleson offers a computer lesson to staff and board members at Prae Pan, another women's weaving co-op in Thailand. TAMMACHAT was birthed at Prae Pan's shop.

Alleson and Mai finish up work in the northern Thai village that's home to Junhom Bantan, a cotton weaving group.

Ellen wears one of this group's beautiful, mudmee (ikat) designed pieces. We originally met this group (and others in a cotton weaving network) through the Pattanarak Foundation; we now work with them through Napafai, a social enterprise near the Mekong River in Thailand.

Alleson and Aew of Napafai display the charming, organic cotton elephants we ordered.

We met the Ban Tho Fan Maetam Group at the first Asian Feminist Conference in northern Thailand.We are planning a visit to learn more about their work with 50 ethnic embroiderers in northeast Thailand.

TAMMACHAT was the first customer to work with this Eri silk weaving group in central Thailand. Fai Gaem Mai, the Cotton and Silk Project, introduced Eri silk creation as a development project in central and northern Thailand.

Warm Heart Foundation works with temple and village weavers in northern Thailand. Eri silk is their specialty.

We met these Paleung weavers at the Royal Project Fair in Chiang Mai. We hope to visit them in their 2 villages this trip.

Saoban Crafts, a social enterprise in Laos, is proud to work with 300 village women. They offer organic cotton, silk and bamboo woven products, plus jewellery.
These are just some of the groups we plan to visit. Subscribe to our blog posts to follow our trip. Or follow us on Facebook.