Merak's Plastic Weaver

Merak Village

Merak Village

 

Pema Choeki is a young woman weaver of Brokpa heritage, from the picturesque village of Merak.

Her passion started when Pema once decided that she needed a better cushion to sit on. Traditionally made from yak skin, she decided that “yak skin is dirty” and that she needed a better material.

A Brokpa family.

A Brokpa family.

As any clever innovator would, Pema set out to identify what readily available resource she could utilize for her invention.

She began “harvesting” plastic with her mother and other family members.

Pema at work.

Pema at work.

Pema will weave one cushion per day, likely interspersed between her other daily tasks. She created a special loom that she could weave the plastic around, and then manually cut each piece of found plastic into long ribbons of “thread.” The plastic thread is then woven by hand into a circular pattern around the loom.

As an additional benefit, Pema found that her new plastic cushions were actually warmer, too.

Sorting out her garbage yield..

Sorting out her garbage yield..

The colorful patterns created by the plastic are beautiful. While not traditional in design, they are contemporary and cool.

The really amazing thing, that Pema doesn’t seem to realize yet, is that she has joined the ranks of future-thinking, progressive designers who use up-cycled materials to create beautiful goods throughout the world.

The finished product - a cool, contemporary mat.

The finished product - a cool, contemporary mat.

It isn’t just that she’s creating a better cushion. She’s also finding a use for plastic waste. She was shy and reluctant to share her story, because she fears the other villagers will laugh at her if they find her weaving plastic.

Pema has also agreed to teach workshops to visitors to Merak as well.

Merak village in winter.

Merak village in winter.