Today I want to share with you guys a very special part of my Honeymoon trip in Thailand. My husband (aka the Gentleman) was gracious enough to let us take quite a detour for a fabric field trip. I read about Studio Naenna in our Rough Guide to Thailand travel book and I knew I just had to find a way to convince the hubs to stop. It’s an eco textile dyeing and weaving studio just outside of Chiang Mai, where we were already planning on visiting. At Studio Naenna not only do they dye their own yarn and weave their own cotton & silk, but they also grow their own plants for natural dying. This place was WAY out of the way and at first it seemed like we may not make it there on our little tuk-tuk with a very confused driver. But we did, and it was so worth it.
I contacted the studio before I arrived to see if they would happen to be having one of their dye workshops while we were there. Alas, I was not so lucky. However, Patricia the owner informed me that I was welcome to come to the studio anyway and that I could be given a little tour of the studio and their operations. I was thrilled. The studio is a little bit out of the city in a very rural area, on a beautiful property. It was so peaceful and serene there. Outside they had a little table with examples of several naturally dyed yarns and info cards on the plants used to create each color (above).
One of the coolest things about Studio Naenna is that they grow many of their plants for dyeing on the premises (or on one of their other properties). Did you know that indigo is actually a green leafy plant (pictured above)?! I had no idea. It always amazes me when the dye colors aren’t always the same as the plants they come from.
They had huge vats of all different kinds of prepared dyes outside at the studio. I got a demonstration of an indigo yarn dip while I was there. They use both silk and cotton yarns at Naenna. The yarn goes into the dye for just a few short dips before it is wrung out and hung to dry.
Everything that comes out of Studio Naenna is yarn dyed. That means the color in the fabric comes from the yarns being dyed before the fabric is woven, not after. The yarn above was already handing to dry. It is only half dipped, which will be used in a specific weaving technique I will show you later. Aren’t they beautiful!?
Ebony is another thing that completely blows my mind. I had no idea that ebony is an actual fruit. These ebony fruits are left to soak in this dye vat even as they use it. It helps to create a more deeply saturated black as seen below.
I was also so very lucky to get to see some of their talented weavers in action. Studio Naenna sells many things in their shop, from simple garments to scarves, yardage and even tapestries. This talented lady is working on one of those very tapestries. These are incredibly intricate weavings and can take years to complete. These amazing women create the tapestry patterns as they go, without any pattern or plan before hand. Isn’t that wild!
Below is one of the finished tapestries they have on sale at their shop. It’s so beautiful.
This is me and the beautiful lady that showed me around the studio. I feel so horrible because I don’t remember her name! But I am so grateful that she was willing to give me a tour on one of their non-workshop days. It was a memorable experience that I will never forget.
You didn’t think I’d leave without taking anything home did you? Well I actually almost did (everything was quite pricey!) – until the hubs reminded me that I’d not likely get another chance like this to buy fabric directly from the weaver! I bought two yards of this beautiful cotton linen. That white ikat woven in? Remember those half dipped yarn batches from earlier? They dye it like that so that when they do a simple linen weave this ikat naturally shows up as they weave. SO COOL! I still haven’t deiced what I want to make with it. I think this is going to be one of those special fabrics that I sit on a while before I cut into it (although I’m seriously leaning toward an Alder dress!)
What do you think I should make with it? Have you heard of Studio Naeena?