With years of experience, this master hand block carver is tracing out the design on a piece of wood block, with a nail. He will later chip out the wood with different nails and a hammer to bring out the design. As has been done for generations, he has learned his craft by closely watching his father, in a village of printers.
Easy to find fault with the printing....until you roll your sleeves and try to keep the amount of paint and hand pressure exactly the same each time you hit the fabric on the perfect spot with no overlap or space between each block design of a different color.
Better leave this job to our artisan friend that has grown up in a village of hand block carvers and printers and dyers.
A mosaic of hand embroidered and embellished pieces of fabric. These compositions of color and design will soon become beautiful bags.
Left speechless with the sight of this color harmony.
And so lucky to have become a friend!
No need to look far for color inspiration in Rajasthan.
And how is it that there is color coordination and harmony in every street corner?
The Arkha Hill Tribe in Southeast Asia have migrated from Yunnan. They live high in the hills of the Golden Triangle, in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. A well-dresses Arkha woman looks stunning in her ornate silver headdress and embroidered traditional outfit. Her outfit is woven in a hand loom from hand spun cotton thread that is dyed in indigo to a dark blue/black color. Girls in Arkha villages learn how to spin the yarn starting at ages of 6 or seven. Women of the tribe continue to practice their crafts of spinning, weaving, embroidering and embellishing their families clothing all their lives.
We were lucky enough to be invited into 2 different Hill Tribe family’s homes for some tea and very interesting conversation that involved elaborate gestures and many smiles.
Looking at the Arkha lady’s headdress, you will quickly recognize the Arkha balls that we use to decorate many of our Hill Tribe bags.
Excellent quality of intricate embroidery by these experienced hands will be used in our Hill tribe bags.
Some hands on, spot check quality control by Mattie!
Spinning the yarn with a bit of a more sophisticated machine at the workshop.
Hand dyed batches of yarn are set out to dry in the large airy space of the wooden workshop.
Another type of spinning machine is used by this lady.
Many ladies go to work in the workshops but many others prefer to work in their homes while they can also mind the grandkids, stop to cook and sit back to continue.
The yarn is being spun into the spools. It will then be used for weaving.
This young lady has a very quick hand and produces very good work very fast.
A young but very able weaver lady at work.
A mom is has her kids playing behind her and is embroidering next to the fire she has built in their yard. The mornings can be very chilly in the mountains.
Two weavers at work. The one on the right is definitely the more qualified....
This lady is weaving a scarf while laughing at her granddaughters antics on the corner. Her whole mouth and teeth are dyed black/purple by years of chewing beetle root, to keep her teeth healthy.
Hill Tribe women back from the weekly market where they trade goods they grow or make. These ladies have loaded their children and freshly bought flowers from the market, in the back of a truck and heading home. They managed to sell all the goods they had brought, so they are happy. The thanaka make-up on their cheeks is a cream that Burmese women have been using for over 2000 years. They apply the cream to their faces in a variety of ways, but common designs include circles or squares on the cheeks. The cream is not only used for cosmetic reasons but also to protect their skin from the sun and to provide a cooling effect.
A Yao Hill Tribe lady catching up on a bit of embroidering while waiting for the bus. Her adorable son is in full traditional Yao Hill Tribe costume.
A stunning Lihu woman weaving with her loom at her house. The complicated sunburst of colorful yarns will end up in a most amazing textile that will be bought by JP and Mattie.
Yao baby boy in his traditional hat with pompoms. These are the hats that JP and Mattie collect to make the Yahat bags that have a become a signature style in their Hill Tribe Bag Collection.
Some of the vintage Hill Tribe garments and pieces that are bought from Hill Tribe women are waiting for the new bag designs. They will soon be deconstructed and cut into different shapes to be used as pieces in the Hill Tribe Bag Collection.
Lahu Hill Tribe lady is spinning her yarn while the indigo dyed fabric is drying out. Spinning, weaving and embroidering is a collective family experience while grandma’s spin, daughters feed the babies and daughter-in laws cook...
You will recognize the embroideries on these deconstructed skirt, shirt and hat pieces as the center pieces of the Yona, Yeenoo and Yelonora Hill Tribe Bags.
Sometimes the little puppy gets tangled in the spinning yarn. We then have to untangle it and give it to the baby to play with.
Passion Pink color is drying in the sun...
Then we have to re-thread everything that had to be cut off to untangle the puppy!