Weaver and textile designer Sarmon Sanixay accidentally "fell" into her craft 15 years ago.
After studying Asian Studies in Political Science and Japanese language at university, Samorn was working for UNICEF as a scriptwriter and translator for children’s books based on health and education.
“To support and empower young girls in developing countries,” she explained. “My family arrived in Australia as refugees and my mother is illiterate so these were very important issues for me to raise awareness and fight for equality for girls. Something that we take for granted in Australia.”
She was working in a village in Laos when she sat with some weavers and asked them to teach her their craft. It began right there.
“At the end of my UNICEF contract I set up a weaving house to support young women of minority ethnic hill tribes.
“We create beautiful textiles from scratch. The fabric is made into homewares, products or clothing. We have a scarf and accessories line where we produce a limited number of items each season.”
“In South East Asia, and particularly Laos, we have a rich textile tradition still intact and with no western influence. There are almost 70 different ethnic tribes each with their own skills and unique traditions and motifs. Just like Australian Aboriginal art, you are able to identify the tribe. In Laos, you can do the same with textiles.”
Textiles are now intertwined with Samorn’s every day life. She has most experience in weaving with silk, cotton and hemp and only uses natural fibres, raw and organic, because they take dyes best.
“I grow most of my own dyes or source them in my neighbourhood. I use compost and rotting material as well. It is all about sustainable and zero waste. Using what you have, this was how textiles were made before the industrial revolution and fast fashion,” Samorn said.
Samorn met Sophie Peer and Kate MacMaster from Trader and Co in Yass through Global Sisters, an organisation set up to support newly settled refugee women and disadvantaged women to set up their own enterprises to become financially independent.
Samorn held a textiles workshop at Trader and Co on Saturday, May 6, where a group of women spent the day foraging around the streets of Yass and creating their own textiles.
She hopes to organise more local workshops, particularly for children during the school holidays, to motivate and activate their sustainability.
- Instagram: samorn_sanixay