Housewives in Thailand have turned to making artificial flowers out of silk. This small cottage?
Housewives in Thailand have turned to making artificial flowers out of silk. This small cottage industry is providing a lucrative income for the house-bound women, and an unusual souvenir for tourists.
The women work in groups of 20 to 30. The flowers they produce are made almost entirely by hand -- a small treadle sewing machine and an electric iron are often their only mechanical aids. Raw materials are cheap -- there's an abundant and cheap supply of the famous Thai silk, and wire or bamboo sticks are used to reinforce the flowers.
The range of flowers is endless -- from tiny rose-buds to enormous tulips and sunflowers. Most sell for about 3 U.S. dollars each (about GBP 1.25 sterling) in the hotel lobbies and souvenir shops of Bangkok. There's also an export market -- Europe and the United states are the main buyers.