“What do I like about working at Ock Pop Tok? That’s easy, I’m a weaver and I love weaving. I’m so lucky that I get to do what I love. I mean, there is all the other things I can say — working with my friends, meeting new people every day, being proud of my culture — but, really, I love weaving. And that’s what I get to do every day.”
This was the deal-clenching answer from Liew, a weaver that has been at OPT since 2004.
For the last nine years we have selected various team members to go to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market as ambassadors for both Ock Pop Tok and, on a bigger scale, Laos. Many people ask how we select who goes to Santa Fe. Here’s how: a simple questionnaire is circulated amongst the entire team. Everyone is welcome to apply. We then interview a short list. After that it’s time to pick two people to go.
This year, Master Weaver Liew will be one of our representatives. At the young age of nine, Liew learned how to weave from her mother. Now, with a daughter of her own, her specialty is in supplementary weft. The supplementary weft is a particularly tricky technique involving extra pattern threads inserted between each row of ground weave. Being an expert at her trade, we found Liew and invited her to set up the pattern on a loom inspired by our design.
Setting up a pattern is a delicate and crucial process, involving meticulous planning, great memory and familiarity with the loom. The pattern set-up serves as a blueprint that will guide the rest of the weave. Liew did such an impressive job and was subsequently asked to work at Ock Pop Tok.
Now, years later, both Liew and her mother still work at Ock Pop Tok’s Living Craft Centre. Liew designs all her own pieces and her organza won the prestigious “textile of the year” award from the Luang Prabang Handicraft Association in 2012.
Liew says of Ock Pop Tok, “It’s everything to me, they gave me great opportunities and many positive benefits. I love Ock Pop Tok’s vision to honour the traditional yet encourage weavers like me to be creative. I plan to stay with them for a long long long time, like forever.”
Just a 15 minute scooter ride back home, Liew continues weaving her own textiles on her personal loom until late in the night. Besides weaving, she enjoys listening to music and cooking. Her favourite dishes include homemade bamboo shoot soup, papaya salad and buffalo stew.
Another member of the team we’re lucky to have!
Meet Liew in Sante Fe, learn more about the art market here. Or join her in Luang Prabang at our Living Crafts Centre.