Somporn Intaraprayong, Wandee Jitnirat
Medium of Work:
Thai artisan Somporn Intaraprayong, in partnership with the organization Chinalai Tribal Antiques, makes traditional clothing and accessories that are effortlessly chic. Using cotton, silk, linen and hemp which are foraged or cultivated, with the exception of the batik scarves which are hand-dyed on purchased commercial cotton, stitching and patterns depict everyday life and embedded iconography. Some of the seamstresses apply their observations on life or just do what they love or have a talent for: numbers, dogs, ants, spider webs, for example. Almost without exception, material is hand-sewn and hand-stitched.
Sterling silver necklaces designed by a Thai artist, Wandee Jitnirat, are also made possible through a partnership with Chinalai. Each necklace is made with solid or hollow beads and pendants that are based on everyday life and tradition—but with a modern spin that manifests in elegantly formed, geometric silver beads, for instance, clustered into an eye-catching, ultra-contemporary statement-style necklace. For hundreds of years, silver jewelry has been important to Thailand’s Hill Tribes as a symbol of status and wealth, and as currency. Economic realities over the last decades, however, have forced most of the production away from silver to metal alloy of mostly aluminum, moving production into factories and away from the passion and spontaneity of the handmade and original. This has virtually destroyed much of the Hill Tribe silversmithing tradition, but thanks to initiatives like Chinalai Tribal Antiques, the silversmiths have returned to creating traditional Hill Tribe jewelry in age-old designs with symbolic shapes and patterns.
In great part due to artisans like Intaraprayong and Jitnirat, renewed interest has arisen in Thailand for recycling, sustainable growth and preservation of antique styles and creative traditions.