If you are ever in Siem Reap and would like to do something for free, visit the Silk Farm Village that is about 20 mins away from the city. I would recommend going to La Boulangerie Cafe for the best espresso in Siem Reap and then heading there 🙂
At the Silk Farm Village, there were about 400 employees working when I was there and they have a total of 1,300. The average salary is about $200 a month. We didn’t get to talk much to the employees or see many of them because it was their lunch time. Overall, we still had a great time learning about silk and where it comes from.
It all starts with the Mulberry plant. They purposely grow small Mulberry leaves so that it is easier for picking. Once they pick the leaves, it is given to the worms for food.
The worm will eat mulberry leaves and will grow and get bigger. These worms at the farms will start to turn yellow due to the weather and humidity. Once they turn yellow, each worm is picked up one by one and is relocated to a basket. Here, the worms starts to spit out the silk that they ate from the Mulberry leave and will cover themselves for protection, hence, making a cocoon.
1 cocoon equals to 400m silk. There are 2 types of layers in the cocoon: raw and fine.
The employees will boil the cocoons with the worms alive in hot water. If they take out the worms first, the cocoon will break thus the process of getting the silk would be impossible.
The first stage is to have to about 40 cocoons in 80 degree C. This will make a small thread.
Afterwards, the ladies warp the fine thread.
Then the dying of the yellow silk begins with many different types of plants to change the colors.
I learned that patterns are always done horizontal and are always on both sides to be 100% real silk.
It takes the ladies 4-5 days to make one scarf. No wonder why these products can be pricey.
Overall, the farm was a beautiful place to visit.