First please note...
In this first note, I scrutinize some of the questions we are frequently asked.
What is the definition of luxurious hand woven fabric?
When I started Soie de Lune in 2004, I knew as much about fabric as the next person, which is precious little. However, when I looked at my first piece of hand woven silk, I fell in love and I knew that the making of hand woven fabric was something I wanted to be part of.
Analyzing that visceral moment is tough but even before I knew how the fabric was made, I could see that it was something special. What makes the fabric luxurious is easier to define; the painstaking work of setting up a loom with thousands of threads of silk, coupled with the skill required to produce the unique designs and of course the silk yarn itself. These elements helped me piece together the puzzle and was the spark that lit the fuse of my journey beginning with the creation of Soie de Lune.
In one centimeter of our woven silk, there are 25 warp threads and the fabric measures 120 centimeters wide. That makes 3000 warp threads in a width. Imagine having to pull through by hand 3000 threads to set up a loom for each project! Silk yarn is fine and densely woven and thus reflects more light than other yarns but takes far longer to weave. In addition to this, patterns must be created by pulling through supplementary warp threads, often by hand. This takes time and tremendous skill and is the reason for our byline, 'luxurious hand woven fabric'. For more details, please see our section Making the Fabric
Why are our hand woven fabrics woven in Laos?
Our fabrics are hand woven at our workshop in Vientiane Capital, Laos, which is in South East Asia. There is still an active hand weaving industry in Laos and our workshop is one of a number of small scale weaving establishments. The fabric produced is mainly for the local population but it is also exported across the world for various projects to customers such as yourself. Laos is one of many countries in the region that still hand weaves, although in many countries the craft of hand weaving is dying out fast through lack of demand and through competition from cheap machine production replacing traditional cloth.
There's a reason that Laos has been more successful than many others in maintaining their artisan weaving culture. One of the reasons is the deeper meaning of all the woven designs that are still in use in the Lao people’s everyday lives. Whether it’s a visit to the temple or a wedding ceremony, in this devout Buddhist country, traditional woven textiles play an important role. Usage keeps the traditions alive in Laos as opposed to their neighbors, where hand woven fabric for everyday use has fallen by the wayside.
Why is hand woven fabric more expensive than machine woven fabric?
Price is a function of the cost of raw materials and the time to make the fabric. Soie de Lune uses good quality Thai or Italian yarns and seeks out skilled hand weavers to weave our fabric. Not only does our sustainable process take time and skilled effort but we also ensure we pay a good living wage.
A weaver weaving an intricate pattern with multiple colors has to pull the supplementary weft threads through by hand to create the design. This is the reason that we can only produce between 10-70cm, 4-30" of Heritage silk design fabric or Heritage design fabric per day.
A meticulously woven fabric will add something special to a room and will bring one of the basic elements of our lives to us; crafted fabric enhances our wellbeing.
Is hand woven fabric practical for interior projects?
The very nature of hand weaving is a sustainable and ethical way of producing fabric. For a 21st Century installation, hand woven fabric is not only practical it's desirable. For drapery, soft furnishings and upholstery it can provide the same wear as any fabric on the market providing the right choices of yarn composition and fabric finishes are made.
I hope that the answers to the above frequently asked questions will help with your understanding of why we do what we do and will provide you with the incentive to add luxurious hand woven fabric to your project. Daniel Marcus - Co-founder & CEO, Soie de Lune
Scenes from Vientiane Capital, Laos hand drawn by Rosa Pearks