By Ellen Agger and Alleson Kase
All Photos © Ellen Agger 2009
TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles works with rural communities in Thailand and Laos where women have long been recognized as valuable and equal members of their families and communities. These artisans:
• transform barks, berries, leaves, seeds and silk cocoons into gorgeous weavings
• create traditional and contemporary designs using traditional floor looms
• develop and use natural dyeing techniques that support their health and the environment
TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles is building trading relationships – based on fair trade principles – with a growing number of weaving groups and non-governmental organizations in Thailand and Laos that work with village groups. We want to introduce you to a few of these groups.
Panmai Group has 250 members living in 3 provinces in Northeast Thailand in both Khmer and Laotian villages, who draw on these traditions in their designs. These women are very skilled in sericulture (the entire cycle of silk production) and are proud to weave only organic, village-reeled and naturally dyed silk yarns. They are expert and widely respected for their dyeing skills using natural materials, protecting both their own health and that of their environment.
During a recent visit, women from both groups told us that this work allows them to stay in their villages where they can live with their families, grow rice and practice their foremothers’ art – while preserving it for their heirs.
Fai Gaem Mai is based in Chiang Mai University and helps community-based production groups in Northern Thailand develop handwoven Eri silk products, one of the textile products that TAMMACHAT carries. The Eri silkworm feeds on the leaves of cassava, rather than mulberry, providing additional income for villagers already growing this high-volume, low-value commodity.
It is difficult to produce by hand.
Our work is real women’s group work, handmade art and tradition.”
available around our village.
I am told that most people appreciate my work –
especially the colours.”
TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles imports fairly traded, naturally dyed, handcrafted textiles directly from the artisan groups that create them. TAMMACHAT, which mean ‘natural’ in Thai, was established in 2007 by Alleson Kase and Ellen Agger. Alleson and Ellen love textiles and had been involved with both fiber and empowering women for decades.
Ellen is a member of our Fiber Focus Group.
Clicking on her slide show below will take you to her page: