White pennant flags dotted a clear blue sky over the Sawadee Craft festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand December 5th and 10th, 2015. The event was held at Baan Kang Wat artist village featuring gallery exhibitions, live music, and an artist showcase in the first installation of this annual fair.
Consistent with the spirit of Baan Kang Wat’s creative community and retail space, the Sawadee Craft festival was beautifully styled and the atmosphere was ‘sabaii’ as they say in Thai, meaning ‘relaxed’. Makers casually chatted with each other and visitors who meandered through the Baan’s pathways in the foothills of Doi Suthep mountain. Only event organizer, Nattawut ‘Big’ Ruckprasit, hustled between workshops and the houses he designed as permanent shops, cafes, and galleries. (Learn more about ‘Big’ and the philosophy of Baan Kang Wat in our previous Maker Profile.)
Join The Kindcraft for a look at a few of Sawadee Craft’s workshops and meet ceramicists, woodworkers, and textile artists who shared their work in 50 shops and tents crafted from bamboo and canvas.
Tai Lue Weaving
Northern Thailand is home to many ethnic groups with a rich heritage of traditional arts. The Tai Lue people of Myanmar’s Shan State, Northern Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam are known for their textiles and traditional dress. Women wear handwoven tube skirts and jackets of twill and discontinuous supplementary weft techniques in bright colors, which indicate what village they are from and their social and marital status.
A weaving loom was set up for Sawadee Craft fair where a Tai Lue weaver Khun Neng from Chiang Rai wove her colorful community-specific textiles.
Thai Mask Painting with Intanu
Chiang Mai based company Intanu hosted a miniature khon mask sculpture painting workshop. The Thai word khon refers to the Southeast Asian genre of dance drama.
Natural Dyeing by Love Is Coming Soon
In a shibori tie dye workshop, the artist Tepparit Nuntasakun (Tan) of the Love Is Coming Soon denim brand demonstrated how to dye with natural color such as indigo for blue and the blood-orange annatto seed for red.
11 Gallery is a permanent shop and gallery space in the Nimman neighborhood of Chiang Mai created as a showcase for the ceramic works of In Clay, Clay Day, Chatchaiwat Pottery, and BooKoo Studio. Joong Jing and Nu Tawan were on location at Sawadee Craft with their own ceramics representing 11 Gallery. Herbal teas from Chiang Rai by Sawan Bondin.
Achar Woeimae, Arsue, and Somchai are students at the Anatta woodworking program which aims to teach skills to stateless children. The group builds contemporary furniture made of local wood.
Best known for his small-scale objects made from clay and wood, Nattawut (Big) Ruckprasit is the artist behind BooKoo Studio, the founder of Baan Kang Wat, and the primary organizer of Sawadee Craft. Read our Maker Profile: ‘Big’ of BooKoo Studio to learn more.
Conceptual artist Surajate Tongchua presented a range of totes, bicycle bags, and backpacks for his brand called I Made My Inspiration (IMMI). The cleanly styled yet utilitarian bags were made with the same type of burlap that Northern Thai coffee beans are transported in.
Lamunlamai Craft Studio
Bangkok-based ceramicists Nopkamon Akarapongpaisan and Nol Netprom visited Chiang Mai to showcase their works for Lamunlamai Craft Studio at Sawadee Craft. The team makes custom ceramics featuring unique shapes and interesting cloudy glazes.
Hailing from Doi Saket mountains north of Chiang Mai, artist Pawana (Nok) Prakobsuk makes shibori tie-dyed textiles for her brand Like Now. Nok uses indigo and other locally sourced natural dyes in a range of muted earthy tones to create cotton apparel and accessories.
Komol Kongcharoen presented new work at his permanent studio which serves as an anchor to the Baan Kang Wat artist community where Sawadee Craft was held. A 2004 graduate of Chiang Mai Universty’s ceramics program, Komol is a well-established artist who continues to create work in his signature hand-formed style.
Plan & Poon
Visting from the northern province of Chiang Rai, Plan & Poon brought handcrafted items to Sawadee Craft featuring Southeast Asian insects and intricately carved works made from local wood.
Tua Pen Not
Working with recycled material found in his immediate environment, artist Pichakorn (Not) Chukiew creates pieced and patched design objects from totes to furniture and decor for Tua Pen Not.
Across town, the 16th annual Nimmanhaemin Art and Design Promenade (NAP) fair happened at the same time as Sawadee Craft. Read our report to see the work of 17 other Thai artists.