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HANDWOVEN PRODUCTS IN VIETNAM: WHAT ARE MAIN MATERIALS?

Vietnamese handicrafts have its own reason to be famous for decades. To make that success, aside from the brilliance of the most dedicated craftspeople, one cannot help but mention the variety of main materials utilized for each product, including bamboo, rattan, seagrass, and water hyacinth. If you are a newcomer, here is some information about these materials that you shouldn’t miss.

BAMBOO 

What is bamboo? 

Vietnam is one of the top eight bamboo-producing and exporting countries in the world. Growing in tropical and temperate climates, bamboo is abundant in the watershed forests of North Central and Southeast Vietnam. Furthermore, different bamboo species have diverse qualities; some are as soft as pine, while others are considerably tougher than maple.

Bamboo plant requires no fertilizers or pesticides thanks to its mildew resistance. Products manufactured from bamboo are considerably safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly for people who want to maintain their houses and flats free of toxins and chemicals.

bamboo material
Bamboo has natural beige color

How is bamboo produced ? 

Bamboo trees are harvested, let to completely dry in the sun, split into thin width, and then skillfully hand woven into handcrafted items. 

Bamboo laths are woven by skillful hands of artisan

Thanks to bamboo’s flexibility, artisans may use many kinds of plaiting techniques to produce weaving designs. Generally, there are 4 popular weaving techniques, including Coiling, Twinning, Wicker, Plaiting. Specifically, Square Plaiting, Clematis Plaiting, and Twill Plaiting are among the most popular. 

There is also another product line that is spun bamboo. Bamboo slats are dried, soaked, cut, and split to be bent into mainly rounded shapes, creating kitchen products, household items according to available molds, and products with ridges.

Bamboo products 

RATTAN 

What is rattan? 

Vietnam’s tropical woods, particularly those in the Northern, Central, Central Highlands, and Southern Provinces, are home to more than 30 different species of rattan. Because of its environmental benefits and versatility, rattan has become a popular wood alternative.

Rattan grows greatly faster than most tropical wood and is also much easier to harvest and transport. Most notably, rattan can withstand humidity and temperature better than a variety of pliable fibers (including water hyacinth and seagrass). It has a solid, durable, flexible, and lightweight body, making it a great material for crafts and furniture.

In Vietnam, there are three major types of rattan materials used to make handicrafts.

Mây (Rattan trees) are often used to make handicrafts, the outside is ivory white, beautiful, and malleable.

Song Mây (English name also is Rattan) belongs to the rattan family yet larger in diameter 

Guột (Gleichenia linearis Clarke) is quite similar in appearance compared to rattan trees but brown in color. 

rattan material
Rattan has light brown color, the strings are sturdy

Rattan products, which are handcrafted in Vietnam utilizing natural rattan and strict preservation procedures, have no negative influence on consumers owing to their eco-friendly raw materials and absence of hazardous chemicals.

How is rattan produced?

The first step in any rattan production is rattan material must be cut. After be havested, rattan needs to be sorted and then cut into its desired size.

Qualified workers have to figure out the different thicknesses, hardness, curvatures, and colors to ensure that the right part of rattan is used for the correct part of product.

After rattan is processed to remove pests or insects, they are woven into products and can be dyed as request.

Rattan material is prepared for production

Generally, rattan weaving styles might differ depending on which part has been used to make certain items. The two techniques available for rattan core are Plain weaving and Coiling, while Mat plaiting with various pattern types is offered for rattan skin.

Rattan products

WATER HYACINTH

What is water hyacinth? 

Water hyacinth is a free-flowing perennial aquatic plant with broad, thick, glossy, oval-shaped leaves that grows abundantly in Vietnam’s waterways. Water hyacinth populations may double in one to two weeks since they are one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet. 

A mature water hyacinth stem can grow up to 50-70 cm long. Dried stems with enough sun exposure will be spongy, bulbous, light, and have a warm golden brown tone.

water hyacinth material
Water hyacinth has light yellow color, some are darker color as the natural color of this stem

As water hyacinth grows naturally without using harmful treatments, they are non-toxic and safe for user. Beside natural color of water hyacinth, they can be dyed for different colors with organic paint so that water hyacinth products are both aesthetic beauty and safety in use.

How is water hyacinth produced?

Water hyacinth stems are dried in the sun for around 2-3 days after harvesting when they are ripe enough before being weaved into products.

Because water hyacinth stems are pretty soft, skilled artists frequently twist the stems over iron frames to create various kinds of weaving. Only after that are the finished items cleaned and covered with transparent PVA  glue to make them more studier, anti-fungal, anti-mold, and to extend their lifespan.

Water hyacinth bags are dried under the sun to get right moisture and have the best natural color

Water hyacinth products 

SEAGRASS 

What is seagrass? 

Thanks to favorable climate conditions, natural seagrass species are sprouting along Vietnam’s shore. Many mistake seagrass for seaweed, yet seagrass is more closely connected to angiosperms on land than seaweed. It has grass-like long, thin leaves. Some of them, however, have oval-shaped leaves and grow in pairs.

Once split and entirely sun-dried, seagrass is incredibly resilient, light, and somewhat glossy. This material is used to make many handicrafts products in Vietnam with trendy and unique designs.

Products made from seagrass are undoubtedly safe for both customers and the environment. The material is fast-growing, safe, and biodegradable in nature. In addition, the production method uses nearly no chemical treatments.

seagrass material
Seagrass has natural color and soft, very easy to bend

How is seagrass produced?

After seagrass stems are harvested, they are sun-dried for 2–3 days until their moisture content is below 15 %. Seagrass will be twisted or braided into strings for weaving depending on designs of products.

Seagrass baskets are under the sun after they are woven and dyed color as custom design

Seagrass products

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