Organza silk weaving

Meet the weavers and artisans who work with great care on the OlaRe products!



Silk

OlaRe items are made from hand woven silk, the originality of which is reflected in "imperfections" of the fabric. These are not faults, but rather "trademarks" helping to differentiate manually and mechanically processed silk.

Silk fabric was first developed in ancient China around 3000 BC. Legend gives credit to empress Xi Ling-Shi (Leizu), the wife of the Yellow Emperor. As the empress was having her tea a silk worm's cocoon fell into the cup. She started to extract it from her drink and began to unroll the thread of the cocoon. She then had the idea to weave it.

The cocoons of the silk worms grown on mulberry trees are degummed and the threads from several cocoons are unwound together to form a single strand of raw silk. Then the silk threads are boiled at about 90 °C under constant stirring with natural or synthetic dyes. After drying the silk is spun into yarn. Eventually the warp yarns (lengthwise) and the weft yarns are interlaced on looms to produce the silk fabric. The unique lustre is lent to the silk by combining different colour filaments for the warp and the weft.

Dry cleaning is best to keep silk in good condition and maintain its original beauty. Protective coating sprays enhance stain resistance but may alter the colour and lure.

Our photo gallery shows the main stages of the manufacturing process and some of our artisans.


The eyes of 500 weavers

Member of the weaving community of Prek Chrey received eye screening with the support of IrisAsia. This is the community which is the only one in the entire country of Cambodia which continue the tradition of organza-silk weaving on simple wooden weaving chairs, and of which we promote the "Katy" organza silk scarves. The lady on the picture was among the many most thankful for this initiative. Out of the 500 people screened 20% needed and received cataract surgery. 60% of the people needed reading glasses. These are very high numbers and confirm that this community is highly neglected. It encourages us to intensify efforts to not only help via the sales of the wonderful scarves, but equally via other community development projects. At OlaRe we are also organising a water filter distribution for the same community at subsidised prices, to improve the drinking water quality of households.


Clean water

At OlaRe we organised a water filter distribution at subsidised prices for the Prek Chrey community to improve the drinking water quality of households in collaboration with Hydrologic Social Enterprise (LINK www.hydrologichealth.com).


How the hard work of one woman helps many others far away

How the hard work of one woman helps many others far away


Samnieng is a 38-years old lady handicapped due to a medical misconduct during the PolPot regime. She is committed and dedicated to support herself and others in her community with handicrafts production. She and her small group of 5 women prepare our wonderful silk necklaces so popular among European customers.

Such a necklace-set ended up with the president of a US State Commission. This lady has been complimented wearing the necklaces and asked OlaRe to buy more for her family members. We mentioned to her our "discovery", that silk-organza can be woven only on one single island in Cambodia and that we thought this unique cultural heritage should be filmed to preserve it for future generations. She kindly started to think with our case and put us in touch with a fantastic film director. He generously offered his time and expertise without renumeration to document the life and weaving practice of this island community on the Mekong.

Samnieng and her group worked hard and at world-class quality, the US executive went in length to help the realisation of this project. Now we need to raise a budget of 2000 USD to contribute to the costs of distributing the film. Do you want to be part of this exciting project? Do you want to organise a screening event in your local community? Get in touch! Do you have a contact who can help us with a professional distribution? Make the link! Do you want to help the broad distribution of the film? Please contact us at olare@olare.org.


Education Programme

In 2011 OlaRe launched a trial education programme with IB (International Baccalaureate) students in a prestigious international school of the Lake Geneva region. Students designed silk handbags, while selected designs were realized by women weavers and artisans in Cambodia. Now these unique limited edition bags made from hand-woven silk are on sale. Buying one of these bags supports not only women artisans with fair income, but any profit generated will support the Kantha Bopha children hospital in Cambodia.

The bags can be bought online in the OlaRe online shop.