I often ask my students about their individual talents. So, they don’t run out of examples, I let them discuss hobbies or specialties of their parents or relatives. It turns up some interesting things. It certainly makes for a good classroom lesson. People are so varied in their skills and arts. You would be surprised at some of the responses. One student has a professional clown for a father and another a mother who races cars. Still another has an uncle who is a woodworker specializing in “Lanna.” Because I am in Thailand, I must explain here what this means. It is often discussed in the context of food as it is a type of Thai cuisine known for its light, fresh, and healthy qualities. I believe that it exists as homemade recipes passed down through many generations. It is a regional reference that denotes certain spices and ingredients.
When it is applied to Thai woodworking, it pertains to a certain approach to the art. I saw an example of this since my student brought in a small ornamental carving to show the class. He had been give this treasure as a gift and he relished the idea of sharing it with others. I could see that it was a very thoughtful present from uncle to nephew. When tourists come to Thailand, they search far and wide for this type of woodworking. There are shops in certain villages that offer Lanna wares. While some are listed on Google maps, many are hidden from western eyes. You have to explore to find them. It is well worth the effort when you see the handcrafted woodwork and the antique furniture on sale to lucky visitors. If only you could learn how to make Lanna style pieces on sites such as WoodworkNation.com. There may be an off season for some villages, so try to check this out in advance and ask those who have found year-round shops.
I personally adore handmade goods and woodworking is surely at the top of my wish list. While I am in Thailand, I am going to add to my collection of artisan-made crafts. Because of space constraints, I limit myself to small items for the most part as when I pack up and go, I don’t want to leave anything behind. Now my Lanna woodworking decorates my home and makes me feel that I am truly living the local lifestyle.
I am in heaven. One day my student with the woodworker uncle brought me a gift. His uncle know that I had praised his art in class and he wanted to thank me. I was nonplussed. These are the rewards of being a foreigner in a beautiful and gracious land. You can find truly authentic crafts villages here and there. Now I have something I wouldn’t find on my normal search journeys. It will be a standout in my collection, which is growing by the month. Whenever family and friends visit, they want to go and see Lanna woodworking. They also want to eat Lanna food as well!