Sometimes things seem to just work out perfectly, without even trying. Beth realized her big birthday (one of those birthdays ending in an “0”) would fall soon after we arrived in Luang Prabang, Laos. What a great place to celebrate a birthday! Adding to the celebration, our New Zealand friends, Cliff and Ruth, would be joining us for a month, arriving in time for the big day.
In the many emails exchanged about what-to-do when we were together in Laos, it was clear Cliff and Joe wanted to do some cycling while Beth and Ruth planned to take a craft class at Ock Pop Tok and chose dyeing and weaving. A perfect plan for the actual day!
Ock Pop Tok’s mission is to “elevate the profile of Lao textiles and artisans, to increase economic opportunities for artisans, and facilitate creative and educational collaboration in Laos and worldwide.”
We were given the opportunity to create designs on our scarfs using techniques involving folds, applying wood blocks and rubber bands.
We donned rubber gloves and soaked our scarves for 10-15 minutes in the indigo dye vat. After pulling the scarves out, they were rinsed with water, the tie-dye rubber bands and wood blocks were removed, and the finished scarves were unfurled. “Nice enough,” we thought, wishing that, now that we knew how to do it, we could dye a second scarf.
Next up: weaving a silk mat. We each were introduced to a Lao instructor (with a translator nearby if we needed help communicating). We had chosen our silk colors and the specific Lao design we wanted for our mats.
The loom was intimidating! After some instruction those first rows took a long time, but with each new row the speed picked up.
We left with our dyed scarves, woven silk mats, and a nice booklet from Ock Pop Tok explaining everything we’d done. What a perfect way to celebrate a birthday!