Our new Handspun Eri Silk Cushion Covers
These Assamese Eri silk cushion covers were handwoven for us on traditional pedal looms using Eri silk that was spun by hand. The Eri silk, also known as peace silk, was harvested from the cocoons of the silkworm, collected by hand, after the worms mature into moths and naturally discarded their cocoons. Eri silk is referred to as peace silk because of the non-violent life cycle of the silkworm compared to non-Eri silk farming. In the production of regular silk, the silk cocoons are harvested and boiled with the silkworm still inside the cocoon. With Eri silk the cocoons are collected only once the worms have matured into moths and broken out of the cocoon in their own time, leaving their beautiful silky homes behind to be spun into Eri silk-thread.
Designed and handcrafted specifically for Ellei Home by KAL, who believe that the value of handmade goods lies in the whole ecosystem consisting of farmer, material, maker and tradition. Each cushion cover is entirely made by hand by a small community of individuals working together to create KAL. Made up of farmers, spinners, weavers, nomads, designers, and traditional handcraft preservers who aspire to make every item with respect for the people who make them and the environments which they are a part of.
The silkworms are reared by tribal people along the Assam-Meghalaya border in North-eastern India. The raw Eri silk made using their cocoons is subsequently spun by hand on drop spindles by women of the Kamrup district in Assam. The Eri silk thread is then taken to the homes of KAL weavers in Assam where it is dyed by hand by the team leader Latika using dyes made from natural materials such as black tea leaves or discarded onion skins collected from the local market. Chemicals are not used in the dying of the silk in order to preserve the environment, the health of the weavers, as well as the natural fibres, allowing the original properties of the Eri silk to be retained. The naturally dyed Eri silk is then woven on traditional pedal looms located in the weaver’s gardens using no electricity in the process.
KAL believe that the distinct identity of different cultures is preserved in the things that people make. For many local communities, farming and craft are an expression of their heritage that has been handed down for generations. These skills not only support the local communities by generating income, what’s more, traditional skills such as weaving and dyeing provide independence and a sense of empowerment that can be particularly important for female weavers in rural areas.
KAL believe that the recognition of these skills can strengthen the sense of autonomy and identity of the artisans who possess them. This can foster a will to nurture and pass skills on to younger generations while creating opportunities for generating income as well as self-expression. Wherever the value of traditional handcrafting is not preserved and recognized we see a loss in skill. Once these skills are lost, they can be incredibly difficult and costly to regain.
With all of this in mind, we collaborated with KAL on the design of our new range of Eri silk cushion covers. The cushion covers were designed in a range of sizes and with an envelope closure rather than a zip, making them one more mono-material product in our range. Not incorporating zips not only reduced the energy consumption of production and transport but also reduces waste, ensuring that the all-natural Eri Silk product can decompose entirely when it is no longer in use.
As with all products made entirely by hand, variations in size, weave finish and colour are a natural part of the hand-making process. The onion-skin dye in particular creates a significant amount of variation and so our green cushion covers come in lighter and darker shades (which have been captured in the product images). If you have specific questions about the colours please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.