The Centre continues to use traditional methods of harvesting and processing natural ingredients to create their dyes, and over time has established an extensive database of natural colours. All ingredients are sourced within Lao, and some are grown in the Center’s two hectare garden.
Dyeing with natural materials requires a high level of skill and knowledge to ensure colours can be reproduced, and that over time the natural colours maintain their vibrancy. Women at the Centre are provided with training in the creation and use of natural dyes including: sourcing natural ingredients, preparing ingredients, preparing the raw material for dyeing, and dyeing techniques.
Natural dyes are obtained from leaves, stems, twigs, flower heads, barks, roots, outer skins, hulls, husks, wood shavings, berries, seeds, lichens and insect resin. Ingredients are then processed using a large pestle and mortar mechanism to crush the material. Once the raw ingredients have been prepared they are then heated or cooled, or a combination of both, to create a diversity of natural colours.
Mordants (fixatives) are added to the natural dye to ensure vibrancy and long lasting colour in the silks and cottons. Mordants include lye (ash water solution), slaked lime (calcium), alum and iron. It is important to choose a suitable mordant for each dye and material as it can influence natural dye colours in different ways.
Houey Hong offers small scale training in small business administration as part of the natural dyeing and weaving courses. The trainers draw on experiences from the Centre and cover areas such as generating small production, selecting materials (quality, quantity, price), basic production cost evaluation and quality control.
The Centre is currently revising training materials to include the provision of additional vocational courses such as more advanced business and administration. Through improved business skills in financial management, marketing and promotion, Houey Hong hopes to improve the ability of women to sell their products and produce at their local markets in order to generate a sustainable income.
Houey Hong would also like to provide further post-training support to women who return to their villages. Houey Hong is slowly expanding its networks with a diverse range of external organisations and businesses to increase their capacity to provide post training support, such as employment, community weaving house projects, equipment provision, marketing, and micro-finance. If you are an organisation that would like to work with the Center in developing such support networks, please contact us.
Houey Hong is actively networking with other vocational training centres, NGOs and businesses to increase its employment network to assist the women in finding employment at the completion of their training. Many of the women currently employed at Houey Hong are former graduates of the Center. If you would like to discuss the possibility of employing one of our trainees, please contact us.