For many years I have been working with a very special silk weaving studio in Isan (Thailand), just near the Mekong River. Many of the residents share ancestry and cultural history with the Laotions just across the river. This includes their long tradition of raising, spinning, and weaving beautiful silks.
David Bali had a commission from Thad Hayes Design in NYC to do table runners for a residence in Boston. I went to Isan to work with the designer and weavers for these custom runners.THD gave us a color palette and samples of the materials being used in the project so we could develop a simpatico color way for the runners (see photo below). Due to the requirments of setting up the warp (the long vertical yarns) on the loom I had to commit to a longer piece of silk weaving than required for this commission but I was able to change the design for the length that I would have, still using the same color palette.
The photo below shows some of the silk being dyed for this project.
After dying the silk is spun onto spools for use by the weavers. The finished spools are shown here:
This video shows the expert weaver at work on the runner.
One day we had a surprise visit from one of the village monks who came to see what we were up to. He expressed his appreciation for this runner design
Thad Hayes Design and their clients were also pleased with the runners. Here is one of the two runners commission installed in the dining room of the Boston residence. Photo: Scott Frances.
With the weavers at the end of my visit. Don’t be put off by their serious faces. It is typical in Southeast Asia for the subjects of photos to be very serious, as the act of being photographed is taken very seriously. Very hard to get them to “smile”.