What is the difference?
The art of solihiya weaving is dying in the Philippines. Much of the solihiya that is commercially available now both locally and internationally are made in China or Vietnam with rattan that is machine-woven in the solihiya’s distinctive starburst pattern.
Manong Vinancio, one of our expert weavers, working on creating a solihiya mat by hand on a wooden frame for our Theo bags.
The demand worldwide for this particular style of rattan-weaving has made mass-produced solihiya so well-made that it is nearly impossible for one to distinguish machine-made solihiya from hand-woven traditional solihiya. The greatest distinction between the two, lies mainly in just how it is made.
Rolls of imported and machine-woven solihiya, raffia, and mats.
Business-wise, it would be so much easier and cost-effective to simply purchase rolls of machine-made imported solihiya and turn them into finished products but at Island Girl, we choose to work exclusively with our communities of weavers and use solihiya that is woven by hand using locally gown, locally sourced rattan because we believe in the value of sustaining the craft as part of our cultural identity. Fortunately, we are based in Cebu, where there are still communities of weavers who are familiar with the art of solihiya-weaving.
Finished solihiya mats that will be used to make our Theo Bags with little to no scrap waste as material is woven according the the dimensions needed for the bag.
This process of cane weaving is tedious and slow.
First, rattan needs to be harvested and then fed into a splitting machine to achieve the correct strip size for weaving.
Next, a wooden frame needs to be custom made according to the size of the finished solihiya /mat that needs to be woven and in the required size of the “mata” or eye, which creates the iconic pattern.
Finished Theo bags.
This process may be painstakingly slow but it also allows us to do all of these 3 things that are important to our brand:
1. PRODUCE COLLECTIONS IN SOLIHIYA WITH PRACTICALLY ZERO-WASTE.
Weaving according to the exact dimensions of the finished product helps ensure that there is little to no scrap waste in production that is quite common in the manufacture of bags and garments, something that would not be possible if we opted to simply purchase the weaves by the roll.
2. CUSTOMIZE BETTER.
Whereas store-bought imported solihiya comes in standard 50 feet rolls of 24 inches or 36 inches and a uniform “eye size”. Our hand-woven solihiya is fully customizable. Color, eye-size and dimensions are fully customizable according to the finished products design.
Hand-woven custom ceiling woven exclusively for @theflyingfishhostel, a project we completed in 2019 and a real accomplishment for us! We never knew we could weave entire ceilings until this project.
3.ENSURE THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THIS TRADITIONAL CRAFT AND ART FORM.
Because our weavers weave in the comfort of their own homes, they naturally pass on the skills of weaving to their children and even their neighbors. For as long as there is demand for hand-woven materials and goods, the our culture and heritage will live on with the transfer of skills from one generation to the next.
Hand-woven solihiya “wallpaper' for Go Lokal Ayala Center Cebu