The story of my beautiful Lao carpet – part 4.
I have returned to Magic Lao Carpet on another hot Lao summer morning. The workshop is pleasantly cool with just a few big ventilation fans humming among the looms.
I am here for an important milestone. For three months, I have been following the process right from the feeding of the silk worms. The yarn has been de-glued and dyed, and the spinning is well under way. The first batches of thread are ready, and the remaining yarn will be spun, as the carpet knotting proceeds.
The loom has been prepared with the basic white strings, and now the final knotting has begun. I joke with Magic Lao Carpet co-owner, Ismit that I know all their secrets now, and will make my own carpets in the future.
“It is very time consuming to produce the carpets, but it is not difficult. If you can tie your own shoes, you can also make a carpet,” Ismit says with a grin.
He has carried the craft with him from his native Turkmenistan. His home country boasts a 4.000 year long tradition in handmade carpets.
Magic Lao Carpet has become an employment opportunity for young people with various disabilities, which prevents them from finding jobs in the ordinary labor market. It takes 3-6 months of training, before they can do the job according to the quality standards. Then it takes another 2-3 years to become a master weaver.
Three young Lao women – Kai, Kuan and Xud, are working together knot by knot with amazing speed. The density of my carpet is very high: 400.000 knots per m2. Now and again, the women hammer the knots to make sure that the knots are secure and tight. The three women are progressing with 1.5 cm per day.
They are working with six strings in three different colors. The base color is Burgundy derived from the roots of the madder plant. The two other yellow colors – Honey and Gold – are both coming from the Dok Chan flower. The Honey variation is created by increasing the percentage of dye and the PH value during the dyeing process.
While the three young women are keeping their fingers busy, Ismit’s wife and carpet partner, Lani calculate the details for me: The Burgundy constitutes 62%, the Golden 30% and the Honey 8%.
I run my fingers on the finished part of my carpet. The feeling is amazingly soft like the belly of a kitten.
My carpet will be 114×200 cm, and total production time is estimated at 133 days. I can’t wait for the final day!
At the same time, other carpets are progressing in the workshop on the looms. Beautiful colors everywhere. Magic Lao Carpet’s total capacity is around 100 m2 per year.
Stay tuned to see my beautiful carpet completed in just a few more weeks.