One of the highlights of my most recent trip to Chiang Mai, was that I had a chance to meet 5 Artisans that make crafts for NOVICA/National Geographic to sell in their catalog. I applied for a grant and got it, to have the chance to go interview them, see how they live and work, and to write and photograph their story and how selling their work for NOVICA has influenced their lives and their communities.
I met women who are feeding entire communities through their crafts, a woman my age that is selling her jewelry all over the world (even Princess Kate is wearing her art), a woman who hand-paints sarongs at home while her famous painter husband sits on the living room floor painting, and i toured a huge ceramics factory with people carving perfect statues and who are still hand-mixing their clay.
I got to travel out to their homes and watch them work and sit in their gardens and drink juice and chat about their lives as artists. In a way, they live so simply, but they REALLY know how to be happy. It is in their culture to give back to the poor and to help their community and by this simple principle, it diminishes any greed or arrogance that they may ever have from being so successful in their businesses. It gives them great pride to be fortunate enough to help others, so any time they earn money they hire other people or donate to the local temple or help build a community center. We could learn a lot from the Thai people.
It truly was an honor to meet these people, to see how humble they are, and to gain a deeper appreciation for the artwork I was seeing in the local markets being sold. Each sarong we buy for just a few dollars can take days and multiple people to make and hand paint. It truly is incredible to behold! Here are some of the behind-the-scenes of these artisans making their crafts.