Vinita is an artist in her fifties living in the northern part of Thailand. Because being an artist does not pay well, she now earns an income by dyeing silk scarves.
And Vinita's scarves are a great success! When we first met we bought Vinita's scarves at her home and at her place at the market. In November 2012 she opened the doors of her own shop.
Vinita buys handwoven, untreated silk from Laos and Vietnam and dyes it the most beautiful colours. She spends a lot of time mixing various colours to create the perfect shade. Using several techniques, Vinita makes scarves that are easy to recognise because of their unique look.
Using tie-dye for example, Vinita folds the silk into a pattern and then binds it with strings. When she applies the dye, the strings (‘ties’) prevent the entire silk scarf from being dyed.
Or the batik technique, which is Vinita’s specialty. Here, she uses hot wax to form patterns on her silks before dyeing them.
After the application of each colour Vinita first rinses the silk, before adding a new shade. This prevents the colours from running.
Vinita is a small-scale entrepreneur with years of experience. She taught herself how to dye her silks in various ways and how to create the best colours. She knows where to find the best quality silk and transforms this silk into exclusive scarves behind her house, where a variety of pots full of dye are always boiling.
To dye a scarf is a labour-intensive and time-consuming process. Each scarf is tied or treated with hot wax individually, before it is dyed per piece. Dyeing one scarf in two colours takes Vinita almost a full day. Using tie-dye or batik, this takes even longer.
Vinita has a team of three people. Tont has been working for her for years and she taught him all there is to know about creating colours. He is an excellent craftsman who helps her with the process of dyeing the scarves.
Wilai and Renu work ‘around’ the dyeing process. They boil the untreated silk, check the colours, iron the scarves and wrap each scarf individually.
Take a look at Vinita’s scarves.
Vinita’s team at work [credits: Bjorn Slis]
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