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■Dyeing and textile - manufacturing with a view to a better future (Part 1) (2013/01/24)

Here is the first part of the local report from Cambodia in three parts. It is reported by Luna Nakagawa, an artist, who taught dyeing techniques there.

Period: Saturday, December 22, 2012 through Saturday, December 29, 2012
Instructor: Luna Nakagawa (artist)
Assistant: Ayaka Ohnuma (visited Cambodia as Reporter for Friendship in 2007)

* Our Income Generating Activities (IGA), and dispatch of specialists are supported by the Japan International Cooperation Foundation (JICF), a public interest incorporated foundation.

When I started to get involved into the textile production at "House for Youth" run by KnK Cambodia, I first saw the stoles and long fabric made there. They were all so well made with excellent techniques that I hardly believed young people, as young as 16 to 25, weaved them. But if anybody asked I would want them all, honestly not. Something was not quite right.

Something about color, feel to the touch, or something more intuitive. When I thought about the work and time put in to make these detailed pattered fabric, I felt "it could've been much better!", and that was the motivation for me getting to Battambang.

On the other hand, I was wondering how much of the intuitive feeling, not the technique, can be taught. "Wet Hydrangea in the drizzling rain during rainy season", "pale pink bloom in spring haze", "color of heavy winter sky"… I felt uneasy how the different world will be accepted by the participants. 

Manufacturing is a job, but conversely, it gives back the joy of creating something new. Take textile as an example. Such an amazing excitement of seeing one thin thread, one small cotton seed, or silk created by seemingly ugly white worms, are transformed into fabric of various colors and patterns.

Let's make something good together. In order to support that, we headed for Battambang.

[Monday, December 24 - Day 1 of training]

* Current situation and problems in weaving (There was almost no problem with weaving, but improvement was necessary in choosing colors and patterns)
* Overview of the training (Focus of the training would be color, cotton dyeing, and silk softness because the training was short term)

Learn the basic structure of colors. Also, learn to use many more colors, including colors never used before, and colors not found in color sample. Color preference might vary for different backgrounds like country, climate, environment, and age. Based on that, learn the customer's preference and choose the right colors.

Exercise (1)
Explained of the basic structure of colors. The objective was to get used to colored pencils and color cards, and to be able to utilize them to come up with the colors and patterns of fabric. First, we assigned students to find 35 different colors from stack of colored paper. We were checking the process of work, and verified their ability to see the difference between colors.

Battambang Dyeing
There is slight difference in colors. We set the goal to find more than
30 colors, and all of the participants passed that goal.
Some came up with their own method of color categorization.
They did have good set of eyes.

Battambang Dyeing 2
Assignment is to find 
35 different colors from 
stack of colored paper

Battambang Dyeing 3
Here is a name tag. There were more than one girls with name starting with "Srey". I wondered if they were sisters, but I later learned it is commonly used prefix for girls' name.

Exercise (2)
The next exercise was to choose favorite fabric among several check-pattern samples, then find the colors used in the fabric from stack of color cards. We prepared many different colors to match; color cards with 199 different colors, and 60 colored pencils. Since they did not know how to create a new color by mixing different colors yet, all the colors they saw in front of them would be the colors they could use. If we gave only twelve colored pencils, those are all they could choose from.

It seems like their regular designing process was
Battambang Dyeing 4
Grabbed a boy from the sewing room next door and asked him to be "check-pattern shirt model".
Are you going to give him snack at break time to thank him?

to pick the colors by choosing pre-made threads. So our goal was to help them experience as many colors as possible.

Exercise (3)
The next exercise was to choose the stripes and copy them as a design on paper, in order to learn the process of coming up with the fabric design. This is an exercise to broaden the variety of designs and come up with new colors and patterns by drawing on paper, instead of using idea in the head.

Everybody completed to copy stripes on paper, by recognizing the width between the stripes, repetitions, and by using the similar colors from available colored pencils. I felt they have the same level of the color recognition skills and the skill to use drawing materials as Japanese people around the same age.

Battambang Dyeing 5
Is it easier with the stripes?
No, no, you have to make it check-pattern yourself…
Battambang Dyeing 6
Khena chose a fabric with check-patterns inside circles among the sample fabrics. She drew circles using a core of the clear tape, and copied black-and-white shades using pencils very well. (She has hearing impairment, so she did this exercise without asking others)

*"Income Generating Activities (IGA)" actions in Cambodia and dispatch of specialists are supported by The Japan International Cooperation Foundation (JICF)

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