In a hot and stuffy room in Hanoi, Tran Thanh Thuc holds up a delicate silk scarf and begins snipping it into tiny pieces, ready to paste onto her works of art. For four decades, Thuc has been recreating Vietnamese landscapes using vibrant shades of fabric cut from scarves, traditional ao dai – or whatever material she could find during years of poverty in the 1980s. “At that time, I tried to look for woollen string, velvet cloth or other very simple pieces to make my first pictures,” she says. “Now sometimes I cut them from the very beautiful silk scarves sent from my friends abroad.” Often using hundreds of thousands of pieces of cloth to shape trees, rivers and patches of sky, the 61-year-old artist doesn’t dare to cool her home studio with fans or air conditioning, even in the boiling summers of the Vietnamese capital. “If the fan is on, the details will get blown away,” she says.