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  • Emiko

Silk Masks Redux

It’s been a year since we produced our first ever masks using our own silks. To be honest, I didn’t anticipate we would be continuing making our masks a year on. But here we are… and our mask production is ongoing!

Silk mask production has been a multi-layered endeavor – literally! Aside from the fact that our masks are three-layered (more on this later), we have found more silver linings in doing this project.

Like everyone else, we were scrambling to cope with this unknown reality called the pandemic. For us, we had just moved out of our shop of 10 years in Dempsey Road to open our new shop in April last year. Circuit Breaker came in the middle of our new shop renovation.

During the 4 months of waiting, I tried to find ways to continue my business and it all came down to my underlining mission. My production in Laos & Cambodia became very difficult due to being unable to travel there. Developing new products was difficult, but I knew, unlike factories or public facilities, my weavers and tailors could still continue to work at home. Many weavers have their looms at home.

I turned my attention to what I had in terms of resources, instead of the usual process of creation and production. One thing we had a lot of was our left-over fabrics. We have kept all our silk scraps from making our clothes. Recycling and repurposing the left-over fabric facilitated a perfect opportunity for producing the silk masks! My Khmer assistants (2 sisters) coordinated everything wonderfully in Cambodia. So the production of our silk masks began.

I had a task of my own – designing the masks and coordinating the colours for the masks and their frames. For the border that frames the mask, we have used thicker silk (also from left-overs). The colour matching of mask and border silks was painstaking, but also a lot of fun. Little details speak volumes indeed!

Our silk masks are lovingly made from our handwoven silks by our beloved weavers and tailors in Cambodia. They are naturally fashionable as the fabrics were designed for our fashion line! To me seeing all the fabrics from the past is like seeing old friends.

The mask project is part of our Hagire project. Hagire means left-over scrap fabrics in Japanese. We will continue to repurpose our scrap fabrics to make something endearing. We are all for minimizing the waste in production.

Mask production has also given jobs to our producers in Cambodia, who clearly need them more than ever. Supporting the weaving and craft communities is one of the core missions of my venture. We are happy that we have been able to continue collaborating on this front.

Our silk masks are made of 3 layers – silk mask, linen lining, and inner silk pocket. You can insert a filter in the pocket for extra protection. Our current design is wide enough to cover your face adequately and comfortably as there is enough space to breathe. It doesn’t move up when you talk. The adjustor makes it easy to adjust the elastic loop to fit your face properly.

Our new masks have just arrived! You can shop online or visit our boutique in town to select your choice. For a little longer, let’s keep our masks on when we go out and feel safe doing so. Also think about the support you are contributing to the craft community in Cambodia.

Emiko Nakamura / emgallery

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