DIY wearable souvenirs

Although I tend to babble on about textiles and sewing a fair bit, I’m basically interested in most forms of folk art. On my recent trip to Laos I found these little handcarved wooden* masks and cow bell and couldn’t resist (well, you never know when you’ll need a cow bell!).

I was planning to use the cow bell as a sort of wind chime – anyone who has travelled in rural Asia will recognise the soft clanging sound made as cattle slowly eat their way through someone’s backyard or communal paddock. My plans for the masks weren’t so clear – hanging them on a wall would be the obvious thing to do, or turning them into fridge magnets, perhaps? But my love of big clunky jewellery won out in the end, and voila…



The masks don’t have hooks on the back or anything by which you can hang or attach them to other things so I had to run chain through their eye sockets, which is somewhat gruesome, but I quite like the effect of gold against the dark wood. DSC_3855

The wood looks heavy but is actually very light. I’m not sure what tree it is from, hopefully not something that is a protected species! I did ask at the shop whether the masks have any meaning – I think the shop assistant said they are made by the Katu people in the south of Laos and they’re really just to use up small bits of wood and make a bit more income. There are larger sized masks too which I think might be used as decoration and perhaps have some kind of protective properties, but having never travelled south in Laos, I’m not sure – any info would be welcome!


*I expected to be asked about these at customs once I got back to Melbourne and so sprayed them liberally with Mortein, put them in a plastic bag and left them in the freezer overnight before I flew home, because apparently that is basically what customs would do if they had to fumigate items. But they didn’t even ask to see them! You can never tell what they want to check and what is fine to go through… anyone else had weird customs/quarantine experiences?