Last January we had someone order 18 sinhs, handwoven in Vientiane, Laos for a Lao dance troupe that was going to be performing for Lao New Year. Being a custom order and a large quantity, it took a while to find someone who would manage having these sinhs and scarves woven for us in Vientiane. Little did they know, and did we know, that four months was not a long enough time to weave all the sinhs, scarves and tdin sinhs, and so we let our customer know that the sinhs wouldn't be completed on time in March and they decided to cancel the order. But of course we were committed to paying for the order and as it turned out all the sinhs, scarves and tdin sinhs weren't finished until the beginning of June! Which worked out great for us because we then brought the sinhs and scarves back with us in July.
What we learned, and it was an important and very worthwhile lesson, is that the difficulty of complex weaving and dyeing cannot be hurried. Just think about it, one scarf took about seven days to complete, one tdin sinh about the same seven days, and one sinh about three days. And that doesn't count they dyeing of the silk. 17 days multiplied by about 8 hours per day equals 136 hours to weave one complete set of a sinh, tdin sin and scarf. And when you think of the number of woman-hours involved in weaving, and especially these special sinhs, the price we charge is really a bargain and that includes paying what the weavers feel is a fair wage. That's what Laos Essential Artistry is all about.
Our customer wanted ten blue silk sinhs and eight fuschia-colored silk sinhs and getting the silk dyed to match the colors we wanted wasn't easy and in fact we had to have the blue silk dyed several times to make it "brighter." Luckily Bai's sister who lives in Vientiane manages all our Laos orders while we're in the states, and being a former weaver she can perform the quality control that is needed.
For this order several women worked for the woman we contracted with and because we wanted to have three silk threads twisted together, rather than five, which allowed for a finer, softer weave and more detail in the flower designs, it took a lot longer than the weavers originally thought, and one reason they couldn't complete the order before Lao New Year.
It was a learning experience for all of us, and the best news is that these sinhs are gorgeous and initially we plan to try to sell them as a set because we're thinking how often can a group purchase silk sinhs and scarves that are the same color and design? We really doubt there is any place in the states where matching silk sinhs and scarves can be purchased like we're offering at Laos Essential Artistry
Now on sale though Lao New Years!