Ock pop Tok – The living crafts centre
The Ock Pop Tok centre is a place set up by an English photographer and a Laos weaver about seventeen years ago. Ock Pop Tok means ‘east meets west’ which is a good way to describe the feel of this place and the coming together of these ladies. It is a place that champions tradition crafts and methods of making especially dying and weaving. AND is in the most sumptuous surroundings imaginable!
There is a very well laid out journey for you to follow that guides the visitor from start to finish of the silk weaving process. Everything is really well labelled and displayed and as a curator that is something I always scrutinise. The first area is all about the silk worms and how they grow and are harvested with a basket of live worms feasting on mulberry leaves for you to see. They also have a number of skeins of silk in the various stages of production so you can touch and feel the differences.
Dying comes next with a great display showing the array of colours that they use most regularly with samples of the plants, leaves, roots or bark that create them. Again everything is available to touch and smell giving a real insight into what is possible. They have beautiful gardens all around the workshop and many plants are labelled so you can see what each plant looks like when its growing.
Next is an area dedicated to the art of Batik with a fascinating lady demonstrating her skills.
This technique is particularly used for traditional skirts like the one below that needs about twelve metres of fabric and hours of embroidery (I think I remembered that correctly!)
Then the dying kitchen full of bubbling saucepans and interesting smells!
Finally the weaving area where a lovely smiley bunch of ladies are busy weaving the most exquisite array of fabrics.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and can’t recommend it enough to those of you interested in any of these processes. They also have a fantastic restaurant over looking the Mekong river, a gallery of fabric pieces, an extensive shop and guest accommodation. On top of all that they run courses from half a day to three days depending on what you want to do…so of course I had to book in! The next post will be all about my experience and I will show you what I made.