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Our beautifully hand woven reed bags are 100% sustainable and it employed the services of a women's Co-op in Sri Lanka whereby the income earned in creating these bags helped to financially support the families either as supplemental income or as the main source of earnings.
The reed used is called Cyperus Corymbosus, a tall, grass-like reed growing along river banks in low lying areas of Sri Lanka.
The reeds grow in the low-lying wetland areas of the country and along river banks. Communities in these areas engage in harvesting the reeds and selling them to the artisan communities. A sickle is used by people to harvest the reeds, which are thin and light in weight.
DRYING AND DYEING
The harvested reeds are left to dry in the sun for up to 3 days. This is done to remove the moisture from the reeds and enhance the resin density in the reed. Resin provide a viscose like texture to the reed enhancing its durability. Once perfectly dried, the reeds are dyed according to the required colour and design. The dye and reeds are added to a hot water bath and left overnight to absorb the colours. Afterwards, the reeds are sent through 3 washing cycles, including a boiling soap wash. Again, the reeds are dried up to three days in the sun.
After the dyed reeds are dried, they are braided into rope of varying thicknesses depending on the products’ design.
First, a wireframe block of the product is made. Then, the braided reed ropes are woven against the frame using a thin long strand of reed stitched together by hand. This secures the braided reeds in place giving it the shape of the product.
In the final finishing process, any loose ends are trimmed and accessories such as logos and handles are attached to the bag. Due to the high resin content of the reed, no synthetic protective coating is required.
SETUP & WORKING ARRANGEMENTS
The drying and dyeing of the reed is done centrally by one artisan with the assistance of another couple of artisans, depending on the quantity for reed being processed. All artisans work from their homes. The dye and prepared reeds are delivered to the artisans or are collected by artisans from the central location. Some artisans only engage in braiding the reed, some only in weaving the braided reed into a product and some do both tasks.
Once their respective processes are completed, the processed material or finished product is returned to the central location. After a quality check is completed and quantity delivered has been finalised, payments are made to the artisans.
Content & photos from our partner in Sri Lanka