It’s hard to choose just one adjective when it comes to describing the silk textiles of Lao artist Souksakhone Khakhamphanh. Not only are her wearable line of scarves, wraps, and shawls exquisitely patterned, they are also colorful, and deliciously smooth to the touch. Khakhamphanh learned to weave at age seven, and by twelve, she had become something of an expert under the watchful tutelage of her grandmother, a master seamstress and expert on traditional Lao dyes.
While the designs in her textiles follow traditional Tai Daeng and Lao Loum motifs and structure, Khakhamphanh continues to modify her techniques with subtle changes in color and patterns. In a greater change to the basic forms, in 2009 she borrowed the tapestry weave technique used by the Tai Lue people from NW Laos and integrated their technique into some of her traditional textiles. She has also changed the traditional background color of some of her textiles to reflect the tastes of her Western audience, using greens and golds and teals instead of the traditional black, red, and blue. All of these alterations make the textiles more intriguing to the greater world audience, as well as piqueing interest in local consumers.
Khakhamphanh has won numerous competitions—both regionally and abroad—and also introduced natural dyes of her own creation; in the late 1990s, she started a studio where other weavers could help her growing demand for her goods, and now the bustling artist workshop boasts over 600 weavers.