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Chiang Mai Artisans: The Art of Thai Silk

Thai silk worms, caterpillars rather than worms, munch on mounds of mulberry leaves before using their spittle to form cocoons. Weavers soak these cocoons in boiling water to extract the silk thread from the cocooned caterpillar then hand reel the raw silk on wooden spindles.

After dyeing, they weave blends of colorful threads on traditional hand-looms making exquisite Thai silk cloth.

This post is the last in my series about artisans of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. I took these images in a Thai silk making and weaving workshop documenting some of the stages from silk worm cocoons to finished product.

For background on the origins and process of Thai silk making check out Wikipedia’s Thai Silk article. Also, the rest of my Chiang Mai artisan series: The Art of Making Traditional Thai ParasolsThe Art of Wood Carving and The Art of Thai Lacquerware.

Finished Thai silk products in the store, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Finished Thai silk products in the store

Thai silk worms, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thai silk worms

Close-up of Thai silk worms eating mulberry leaves, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Close-up of Thai silk worms eating mulberry leaves

Thai silk worm cocoons, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thai silk worm cocoons

Thai silk worm and cocoons, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thai silk worm and cocoons

Thai silk worm cocoons, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thai silk worm cocoons

Weaving Thai silk on a hand-loom, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weaving Thai silk on a hand-loom

Weaving Thai silk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weaving Thai silk

Dyed silk threads, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Dyed silk threads

Weaving Thai silk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weaving Thai silk

Weaving Thai silk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weaving Thai silk

Gorgeous golden threads of Thai silk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Gorgeous golden threads of Thai silk

Spindles of dyed Thai silk threads, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Spindles of dyed Thai silk threads

Bleached raw Thai silk threads before dyeing, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Bleached raw Thai silk threads before dyeing

Dyed Thai silk fabric drying, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Dyed Thai silk fabric drying

Dyeing Thai silk fabric, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Dyeing Thai silk fabric

Weaving Thai silk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weaving Thai silk

Weaving Thai silk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weaving Thai silk

Weaving Thai silk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weaving Thai silk

Weaving Thai silk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weaving Thai silk

Spindles of Thai silk thread seen through threads on loom, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Spindles of Thai silk thread seen through threads on loom

Close-up of spindles of Thai silk thread seen through threads on loom, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Close-up of spindles of Thai silk thread seen through threads on loom

Spindles of Thai silk thread, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Spindles of Thai silk thread

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