In Cambodia: The Art of Making Silk

IMG_8035-1024x768By Lynn Strough
Travelynn Tales


Editor’s note: We are excited to share with you the adventures of Lynn Strough, a local artist and writer who’s been traveling the world since November 2014. Lynn’s travels have (so far) taken her to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Slovenia, Croatia, Ireland, England, France, Italy… and I’m sure we’re forgetting a few destinations. To learn more about her journey, go here.


In this first installment, Lynn is in Cambodia and shares the art of creating silk.


Just outside Siem Reap in Cambodia is a silk farm, where for free, you can go on a tour and see the whole process. They will even give you a free ride on their shuttle bus. Yes, they have a gift shop at the end, a very lovely one, but there is absolutely no pressure to buy anything, although you might be tempted to! And it’s nice to tip your tour guide. I was amazed at what it takes to go from a worm to a single piece of fabric. I think you will be too!


  • It all starts here, with mulberry leaves. A mulberry leaf diet creates the finest silk.
  • In the beginning, tiny worms hatch from eggs, like little brown grains of rice…
  • …which then grow bigger and bigger, as they feast on juicy green mulberry leaves. Eventually, they are big enough to start creating their cocoons, which are basically made from worm saliva. I know, kind of yuck! What’s amazing is that they spew out one long single strand, about a kilometer long.
  • The cocoons are then put into specially made baskets, until it’s about time for them to hatch, and then…
  • The life cycle of a silk worm is 47 days (note that the mating cycle is 12 hours – no wonder the males die off right after!)
  • Next, the cocoons are brought inside, where they are boiled. This allows for the individual long fibers to be carefully unwound and fed into the spinning reel, usually from 4-8 cocoons at once.
  • There is both raw silk from the outside of the cocoon, which has a rougher texture, and fine silk from the thread inside. The fine silk is more expensive.
  • The silk thread is then dyed using various leaves, flowers, bark and other natural ingredients…
  • Then after it is dry, it is put onto spools. It gets its shimmery appearance from the triangular prism-like shape of the fiber, which allows the cloth to refract the incoming light at different angles.
  • Now it’s time to head to the weaving workshop…
  • The patterned pieces take a really, really long time…
  • …while the solid colors go much faster.
  • It’s a fascinating process, which gives you a whole new appreciation for why silk is so expensive, and is definitely worth a couple of hours in your day at Siem Reap.



About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50-something year old woman whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Vlynn stroughalley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.


“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”



travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission



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