When we were in Luang Prabang, we went to a tie dye class at a place called Ock Pop Tok. This class was very enjoyable and I hadn’t done many things like it before. We learnt a lot about local Laos people, specifically the tradition of weaving with silk.
Ock Pop Tok means ‘East meets West’ and was co-founded by a lady called Veomanee Douangdald, who is from Laos and a lady called Joanna Smith from England. Twenty years ago, Joanna was on an assignment to take professional photos of projects that were helping local Lao people. Veo (Veomanee) at the time, was weaving different things including traditional skirts called ‘Sinhs’ with her own personal twist added. They started Ock Pop Tok to give more women and girls from Laos an opportunity to weave so that they could carry on the tradition and they also opened a shop so tourists could buy their weavings.
We went to their Living Crafts Centre to see where they weave the clothes and other accessories like bags, scarfs, cushion covers and teddies. When we were there we learnt about a woman who does wax art called Batik. She is the only woman left in Luang Prabang that can do this. She is in her 70s and she wants to teach her granddaughter but she left and moved to another village when she was 14 to get married.
At the start of the class we went to see the silk worms. Did you know that one cocoon can make 360 meters of silk and the cocoons are about two inches tall and one inch wide? Next we went to choose our dyes. I chose a really nice purple and I had to make it out of bark from the Sappan tree because all the dyes were natural. Lola’s blue was made out of indigo leaves. I did a drawing of Willow and I choosing which dye we were going to use.
When we were making my dye we had a huge machete to cut the wood. Then we mashed berries to make red and smashed the indigo leaves to make blue. We made a friend there called Rebecca and she was really nice. We were doing the machete thing with her and she was really good at it. She also mashed the berries and our guide/teacher guy told us that the local girls sometimes use these berries for lipstick and that’s why he called them lipstick berries.
My T shirt turned out to be really cool. Willow did a pattern with triangles and I made one quite different but with triangles as well.
We went out for dinner with Rebecca that night and taught her how to play a card game called up and down the river. (She beat all of us!!!)
My time there was so fun and i would definitely go there again and make the place mats because some other people in our group did them and they turned out really awesome and I would definitely recommend it to anybody going to Luang Prabang. I think Ock Pop Tok was one of my favourite experiences.