In Chiang Mai, I'm finding, it is surprisingly easy to meet an artist. They love to be in the shops where their art is sold. They gladly share about their art and often their ancient crafts. The cottonfarm located in Raming Tea House on the second floor is a visual breath of fresh air and feeling of such lightness and calm, as the fabrics and clothes are displayed so creatively. Those hung from the very high ceiling make a visual art piece in the center of the room.
The dark wood floors and the white lattice touches blend with the fabrics and clothes and solid wood pieces, also for sale - all handmade, handwoven and naturally hand dyed. The rim of the room has displays of clothing and tablecloths, some woven in a very ancient style that very few people are able to produce. It is truly a place of beauty that values unique wood and cotton pieces, ancient weaving and dyeing techniques and uses a huge space to display very few items, which further gives each piece a highly valued, special feel to them.
We met the designer of the clothing and other fabric items (tablecloths, table runners, place mats and napkins). She shared about the hand weaving and delicate nature of some of the fabrics, requiring a very soft touch on the loom. She also shared that she learned hand stitching techniques in Japan that are no longer done in Japan, as the younger generation is less interested in the very labor intense work of the stitching. We learned so much, and she gladly shared about her craft. She was lovely and happy to pose for a photo.
Sometimes the artist owns the creative space, like John's Gallery Tree House on Tha Phae Road. His sign out front shows his sense of humor - Sweat Shop, I'll sweat and you shop:) I've been in the Tree House twice, and each time, John has been around and came over to introduce himself. His beautifully painted, brightly colored artwork, with inspirational phrases, come in every size and shape imaginable. John loves to paint, and has created many hundreds and maybe even thousands of pieces of art. Walking through the Tree House is an experience in and of itself. It is an actual huge tree, with natural little room-like spaces following the natural flow of this tree. He also has rock art and wall hangings. It is something to behold.
The book binding shop we happened upon, uses hand stitching and will customize size and paper for your book/s. From journals to notebooks and books for a novel or cookbook - whatever you'd like to be made, they will hand make the cover and stitch the binding. The books were beautiful to see and touch.
Another artist I met was a very young woman, early twenties, that designed beautiful note cards. She captured the gentleness and spirit of the Thai people in her art. She was helping in the shop that sold her cards, and this shop again had maybe a few dozen, at most, items for sale. They had a large lovely wood desk and chair set in front of the street window, with pens and a nice writing space to sit and write out your card or postcard right then and there. They sold stamps too - no add-on charge, just the stamp cost - and after you finished writing and stamping your cards, you placed them in the wood tray on the desk, and then they would take them to the post office for you. All for no charge, and the cards were less than $1 each.
It's the many small touches in Thailand that make it such a special place. I appreciate and love the beauty and caring that is evident in these small details. With only two more weeks here, I am noticing daily those things that I will miss about Chiang Mai.
Sending You Love from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
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