Artisan Organization: Nopnara
"My name is Nopnara Saowaphakpong but you can call me Tong. I was born and raised in Chiang Mai. I'm the eldest of three children.
"My parents were painters since they were students in the university. Then my mother's interest turned to the ceramic arts. With my father's help, she opened a small ceramic studio in our house in the late 1990s.
"Their first customers came from my father's painting exhibitions. They are Japanese and they trust in my father's skill. They placed our first order for a whole shipping container of made-to-order ceramics. After that, our work spread widely and we received more orders.
"Our first studio was just a lean-to located close to our house. There's a small watercourse around the land and it's such a cool and pleasant place. Our environment is where we find inspiration. We design our ceramics from nature's color and the motifs we see in a piece of wood or a field of grass.
"I studied printmaking at the Chiang Mai University School of Fine Arts. But I joined my family to work in ceramics. I bring my art school knowledge to our tableware and designs so that they're not only useful but are a piece of art on the table at every meal.
"Apart from ceramics, I also do my own installation art and exhibit sometimes at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and in Chiang Mai.
"When we create a new design in the workshop, we take hours and hours to discuss it until everyone is satisfied. We test the color again and again until it matches our imagination. In addition, my father emphasizes matching each piece with an artistic point of view.
"Our works are well known as beautiful, durable, food-safe and good quality ceramics. Some of our shoppers are food stylists and they use our designs in photo shoots; others buy them for their restaurants to create a sense of good taste and art.
"Our crafting processes are taken care by my younger brother and sometimes by my father. Making molds, casting the liquid clay, decorating and glazing have different methods. Much of it is done by hand. We have 25 craftspeople from the village working with us. During school holidays, I hire craftsmen's teen children as often as possible to help out with their school expenses.
"Our whole family is involved with the workshop. I'm responsible for accounting, my younger brother takes care of the crafting and glazing, and my youngest brother takes orders and deals with shoppers. But we still do the design work together with my parents' help.
"Now I have a happy life. My workplace is just few steps from home and I'm still surrounded by nature. I also have a small vegetable garden at the back of the house.
"Our dream for the future is to have our own gallery to exhibit my parents' ceramic art. They still love to paint and want to create a masterpiece from our old waste ceramics. Our gallery will be located near the house and have a space for a ceramic shop.""