Arts & Crafts: Moving away from the age-old tradition of spinning thread manually, a new model of spinning equipment run by electricity and motor will soon be available to the nettle fibre workers and cotton growers in Shingkhalauri in Samdrupjongkhar.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay inaugurated the spinning equipment at the Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Crafts (APIC) yesterday.

APIC’s Chief Executive Officer, Lam Kezang Chhoephel, said this is the first time such an innovation has taken place.

“Operating with motor for spinning thread is the first of its kind. We hope that by providing such products to the weavers, our mandate with the APIC to support rural artisans will be served and it will make their lives easier,” Lam Kezang Chhoephel said.

The spinning machine costs Nu 17,700. Since the machine is expensive for rural weavers, APIC will provide machines to rural groups free of cost for now, Lam Kezang Chhoephel said. “Once the market for the machine picks up, the price of the machine will go down and the weavers will be able to buy the machine.”

APIC got the idea to design the spinning machine when Lam Kezang Chhoephel visited the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad in India last October. NID and APIC have been collaborating and sharing ideas.

The spinning machine can be used to spin any kinds of threads, mainly nettle fibre, cotton and yak hair, which the weavers in villages usually use, Lam Kezang Chhoephel said.

“We will keep two to three spinning machines in a common facility within the clusters of a village in Samdrupjongkhar by the end of this year. Later on, the villagers might be able to afford or even make one with time and resources available,” Lam Kezang Chhoephel said. “Our aim is to improve the machine further before it is given to the weavers and nettle fibre workers in the villages.”

He added: “Right now we are turning one spindle but with improvements and improvisation of the spinning machine, we hope we can make ten spindles turning at a time, which is my dream.”

Thinley Zangmo