The Silk Farm

Not too long ago Elysse and I visited the Silk Farm just outside of Siem Reap. Students live and study here for one year, and upon completion return to their home towns (or to wherever they want, I suppose) to work and train others. They only train in one small part of the very lengthy process, which shall be outlined below.

First, the worms are fed mulberry leaves, which I’m told is the same in Australia. They are kept in cupboards in a wooden building on stilts. The stilts are in water to prevent ants getting in and eating the worms.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The worms are then left to make cocoons, which is where the silk comes from.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

In nature it looks more like this.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Some of the cocoons are kept for breeding purposes, the others are put in the sun. The drying process kills the growing worms inside.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

They are then placed in boiling water. The outside of the cocoon starts to unravel and this is caught up and fed onto a large reel. The thread from the outside of the cocoon becomes raw silk.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The process is repeated with the inner part of the cocoon, making finer silk.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The thread is then cleaned and stripped of any lumps.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

It is dyed using natural dyes.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

For some reason I didn’t photograph the design part. Some women are trained in marking the threads for the patterns. They tie plastic at various points before dying to create the colourful patterns which are then woven very precisely using a loom.

And then pretty things are made! Check out this awesome cocoon dress!

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

My purchases included a silk pillow case (it had an elephant on it, I couldn’t resist), a silk head scarf, and yes, I’m the person who bought two cotton scarves at a silk farm.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

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1 comment
  1. Yael said:

    You crack me up… Cotton scarves at a silk farm! LOL!

    The farm looks fascinating! Putting it on the bucket list!

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