The True Miracle Fibres: Natural Threads of the World

by - Monday, April 20, 2009

2009 Maiwa Textile Symposium

Thursday October 15, 2009 at 7pm
Vancouver Museum (MacMillan Space Centre Auditorium)

What if there were a fibre that resembled spun gold? Something that could be reeled or spun and was so perfect for weaving that you could easily warp up a loom? What if it could be dyed, and could be harvested by a husband and wife living on a small half-acre farm with no chemicals or pollution? Then you would have the golden muga silk found only in Assam, India.

More fibres like this one exist: cottons that have natural tints of green, mauve, and brown; plant fibres like agave that can be woven into bags of enduring strength; and silks that behave like cotton and are naturally warm.

These are the true miracle fibres. They represent an invaluable biodiversity but require traditional skills and talents to manipulate. These skills and the cultures that support them have been under threat from the introduction of cheap synthetic fibres for many decades now. The price difference between natural and synthetic fibres is often so vast that many artisans producing for local markets can only afford to use synthetics. The result is a loss of skill among spinners, weavers, embroiderers, dyers, and artisans of all types.

Join Charllotte Kwon as she presents a tour of some wonderful fibres, remarkable artisans, and cultures that are fighting to keep a vital way of life.


Charllotte Kwon is the owner of Maiwa Handprints Ltd. and the director of the Maiwa Foundation. Through Maiwa, Charllotte also runs a textile archive and research library located on Granville Island.

The Maiwa Textile Symposium is the direct result of her enthusiasm for textiles and artisans. She personally pulls together the formidable list of international speakers listed here.

Under her direction Maiwa has produced four documentary films and a number of print publications. She also guides Maiwa’s substantial web presence.

Charllotte travels extensively each year to research handcraft and to supplement her extensive natural dye knowledge. She teaches natural dyeing classes to artisans around the world.


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Tana Bana: Wisdom of the Loom

In Search of Lost Colour:
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