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Here Lac modified with iron is woven (notice the plastic bag with spools by her side) by a student at IKTT Siem Reap.

LAC is used for RED AND PURPLE. The resinous secretion of the Lac insect produces a very vivd scarlet. See below the variations that can be achieved with over-dyeing and using iron as a modifier (modifying in dye terms is changing the colour after the dye bath. Alkalis, acids or iron can be used for this purpose).

Top left is Lac and iron, top right is Lac and Indigo, bottom left is lac bottom right is Lychee and Lac

See slideshow below for further information on dye colours.

Indigo vat

This vat is not quite at its peak.

INDIGOFERA TINCOTRIA (leaves are quite similar to Indigofera Australis)

IKTT is trying to plant all dye plants necessary for their workshop. Here you see the Indigo crop.


I always like to weave a story into the blog that has a personal element.

In part 1. I mentioned the few remaining women who rescued the nearly extinct craft of Khmer Ikat weaving. One woman stood out, she had the widest knowledge and was prepared to move cities to join the IKTT workshop to pass her knowledge on. She has now retired and lives back with her family in Takeo province, She must be nearly 100. Her daughter now lives in Siem Reap, continuing her work at IKTT and so does her grand-daughter. You see her grand-daughter here tying the Ikat strands and the lady showing me the tie dye earlier on was the daughter. The tradition lives on!!!

On a technical note- banana fibre is used instead of the plastic string in tie dye. I asked why and the answer was 'because the plastic is not strong enough' ! The strands are beaten to really drive the dye in between the threads. It is amazing that the banana fibre and that lady's knots stand up to that harsh treatment. It makes you appreciate the skill even more.

Banana also has another use for the local dyers. The stems are burnt and the resulting ashes are diluted in water to make an alkaline solution.

Banana trunks being cut up to be burnt and made into fibre.

Weaving school at IKTT in Phnom Penh

Dyed silk skeins drying.

The spools are kept moist to spin them more easily .

This concludes dye adventures in Cambodia. I hope you found my journey interesting. Please leave a note below and join the mailinglist for further updates so you don't miss upcoming posts.

Next journey is to America's South, tracing steps of Indigo cultivation.

So long, take care, nice to have your company!

B xx

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