By making the exquisite artwork found in many of the remote villages throughout the Far East available to the global marketplace, we, at World Threads aspire to support a growing source of income for local artists and assist them in their effort to preserve the cultural treasure their artwork represents. Below are a few of the many ways we work to further both our own, and our client artist's, goals.
We Travel to the Source
By meeting artists in their own villages, we accomplish two goals. Because many of the locations we visit are so far upcountry, making the trip into a larger city where they might sell their work takes the weaver away from their loom, which sits idle in their absence. Buying directly from the weaver - in their own village - affords them more time at their loom, and a more sustainable income. Additionally, we're able to develop long-term relationships with local weavers and familiarize ourselves with their craft.
Preservation of Traditional Cultural Art Forms
Most of the fine woven products we offer come from Laos, where in the past they were typically woven for household use. Although some of the village men are weavers, traditionally it was the women who were most often involved in weaving scarves and other beautiful pieces. The human endeavor of teaching the craft - and thereby earning a living - is transferred from one generation to the next as a mother passes her weaving skills to her daughter and so on through time. It is our strong belief that such intricate work as found in these beautiful scarves deserves a place in an international market place.
The Art of Silk Project
The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) began the Art of Silk project over a decade ago to create greater opportunities for fair wages, education, a steady income, healthy working conditions and a better quality of life.
The Art of Silk’s goals are:
- To create awareness and appreciation of the history and cultural diversity of Lao textiles
- To promote and revive the traditional art of weaving and raising silkworms
- To develop a marketing outlet for Lao textiles and ensure that the weavers obtain a fair price for their products
Because of their work, the LWU has revived the fading art of weaving in several communities and this has led to many great opportunities for women:
- Women no longer work in the fields or go into the forests performing hard labor to support their families. They can now afford to stay home and be with their families while weaving.
- There is a sense of community since the group training sessions require women in the program to teach other women in the village.
- Women are becoming empowered to take control of their lives.
- Some women become the main providers for their families and relegate chores such as cooking and raising small livestock to their husbands to free up time to weave.
At World Threads, we wholeheartedly support the goals and the increased opportunities espoused by the LWU, and the dignity made possible for village artisans through having a means of earning a decent living.
Fording a stream en route to a remote, upcountry Laotian weaving village.
Traditionally, Laotian women wove exquisite fabrics for domestic use, passing their skill to their daughters through each generation.
The pride exhibited by one weaver's twelve-year-old daughter from selling her first beautifully hand-woven scarf was a lasting memory we have been fortunate enough to witness first-hand.