A modern retelling of the cloth classics

An exhibition at the Jim Thompson Farm will showcase the collaboration between university students and local weavers

New creativity and age-old wisdom will find aesthetic balance next week, when the annual Jim Thompson Farm Tour in Pak Thong Chai district, Nakhon Ratchasima, begins.

Silk is dyed with natural colours at Isan Village, Jim Thompson Farm.

The tour will feature an exhibition in which university students have re-interpreted textiles from 11 northeastern communities. The "On Son Lai, Laai Pha Isan" exhibit will be displayed at the central pavilion in Jim Thompson Farm's Isan Village.

Besides the farm's natural beauty, with its vast fields of pink cosmos flowers and other winter blooms, visitors will see the exquisite silk and cotton textiles students have adjusted or updated.

"The 'On Son Lai, Laai Pha Isan' project is the highlight of the Jim Thompson Farm Tour 2013," Chutima Dumsuwan, corporate communications director of Jim Thompson, said. "New textile patterns created by students from eight leading universities will be presented in order to preserve the roots and local identities of Isan's hand-woven textiles."

Students who joined the project attended on-site workshops with local weavers, during which they designed and produced textiles that combine motifs of different weaving communities.

"The students have gained experiences from working on-site. Some of them who had learned only from textbooks had the chance to touch and work with real textiles," Pornthip Soonthonnon, Jim Thompson's handloom weaving manager, said.

"Weaving masters had the opportunity to learn about the use of primary colours and other things. All the teams focus on environmental protection by using natural colours, which are trendy now."

Nattanan Boonyasit and Jintawat Nakpan, the team from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang's Faculty of Architecture, will show their textile design entitled "Drop In The Ocean", in which natural indigo colour is applied to a traditional brocade by the Pha Hol Boran Si Thammachat Ban Natang Group, in Surin province, with a focus on contemporary flow of lines and use of colours to attract the young generation.

Another team from the university, Atittaya Chit-arun and Hattaya Lattasaksiri, have designed, "Pha Mai Mad-mee Lai Look Kaew", in which ikat silk of Ban Mae Rabeab Village in Muang district, Surin, is simplified with the combination of graphic elements and pastel colours for a more modern look and feel.

Aleena Ittipaisan and Jenjira Luengwattana from the Faculty of Agro-Industry, Kasetsart University, designed "Pha Fai Yom Kram" by Hattakam Puan Ban Wat That Prasit Center, Nawa district, Nakhon Phanom. This unconventional textile pattern of freeform shapes is inspired by the foam created during the process of mixing indigo dye powder with lime juice.

Sasipong Banrum and Mayuraporn To-ying from the Faculty of Architecture, Urban Design and Creative Arts, Mahasarakham University in Maha Sarakham, came up with, "Lai Barai Nam Jai Waeng" on "Pha Sin Tin Daeng" by Baan Waeng Group, Phutthaisong district, Buriram. The new pattern sends a symbolic message about the village's big swamp, which is surrounded by waeng grass, and the unity of the villagers. It combines two traditional motifs _ laikhor (hooks) and laidokkaew (orange jessamine).

Suparerk Muangtub and Kamolchanok Saensopa from Thammasat University created new lai hang karok patterns, which feature dimensional illusions. They applied optical art techniques to the traditional motifs of Pha Mai Laai Hang Karok from Bua Lai district, Nakhon Ratchasima. Krisada Nusanrum and Atittaya Pimpapien of the Faculty of Applied Arts and Design, Ubon Ratchathani University, will show, "Lai Mee Kled Tao Mongkol", inspired by tao pek, a symbolic tortoise of Mancha Khiri district, Khon Kaen, on natural-dyed ikat silk by Thor Pha Baan Nong Ya Plong Group.

Supaporn Samakom and Wipada Namrana of Ubon Ratchathani University, have designed "Khong Poon Moon Khram," on "Pha Mai Kab Bua" by Satree Sahakorn Baan Pa-ao Group, Muang district, Ubon Ratchathani.

The new pattern of various weaving techniques depicts a phenomenon in which two rivers of different colours join.

The team members from the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Thammasat University, Rangsima Saengwanich and Acharaporn Sakdawongseri, used a gradient colour painting technique on patterns inspired by lush green mountains of the Khao Yai forest, on ikat silk by Thor Pha Baan Faek Group, Sida district, Nakhon Ratchasima.

Pundita Tantiwong and Jrumchai Singalavanij of the Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, produced a modern version of "Pha Kit Mai" by Baan Pho Kham Group, Na Klang district, Nong Bua Lamphu. Their design depicts the water reflection of a colourfully lit temple fair and the display seen on an amplifier.

Kamolchanok Saensuk and Taweesak Jattuwan of Khon Kaen University's Faculty of Architecture, have designed ''Moon Mung Lam Kha Praewa Kalasin'', which portrays the religious beliefs, traditions, rituals, recreational activities and generosity of the Phu Thai people. Modern weaving techniques were also applied to produce a shimmering effect on ''Pha Mai Praewa'' by Thor Pha Baan Phon Group, Kham Muang district, Kalasin province.

According to Taweesak, praewa is the queen of Thai silk. It is very famous and valuable, and requires a complicated weaving process.

''Our question was how to create a new unique feature of praewa silk. Finally, we decided to use patterns on pha saew fabrics that combine all traditional and local patterns. We wanted to show Phu Thai art on fabric. The patterns depicting traditions being held at night glow in the dark,'' he said.

It took two months for the team, which was led by weaving master Prakhong Chanthamart, to complete its work, Prakhong said.

''Usually, weaving a sabai, [a shoulder-covering cloth] takes one-and-a-half months. When I saw the patterns designed by the students, I sweated because they looked different from our trapezoid-shaped motifs. Another difference was that their motifs were started with dark tones.''

The team from the Faculty of Textile Industries, Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep, Piyanuch Pipattanakul and Amornrat Kaewchaiyo, introduced a modernised pattern called the mae peng to the cotton textile, ''Pha Fai Lai Khai Mod Daeng'', from Nong Bua Daeng district, Chaiyaphum province. They focused on the use of traditional, natural colours combined with fancy threads to give the depiction of red ants' eggs a more interesting shine.

''Our original 'Lai Khai Mod Daeng' pattern was inspired by the shape of ants' eggs. The students asked me why we created only those motifs, not those of red ant queens,'' Anunya Khaononkok, a representative of Wisahakit Chumchon Thor Pha Yom Si Thammachat Nong Bua Daeng Group, said.

According to Anunya, the new pattern is not too difficult to weave, but is very small and delicate. The weavers had to tie-dye 25-30 hanks of thread, which is much more than usual, and they feared colour absorption.

''I think I will include the mae peng motif in our production line because it is beautiful,'' Anunya said. ''The 'On Son Lai, Laai Pha Isan' project has brought the villagers and the younger generations together. ''It certainly generates a new set of knowledge in terms of culture and design. Working processes and ideas were also exchanged between the students and villagers. Most importantly, the villagers can later use the students' creations for their commercial productions, which will generate sustainable incomes for the communities in the future.''

The Jim Thompson Farm Tour 2013 will run from Dec 14-Jan 12 at Jim Thompson Farm, Pak Thong Chai district, Nakhon Ratchasima.
Tickets are available at the farm (120 baht for adults, 80 baht for children on weekdays; 140 baht for adults, 100 baht for children on weekends and on Dec 31-Jan 1).
Visit www.jimthompsonfarm.com or www.facebook.com/JimThompsonFarm or call 02-762-2566, 085-660-7336 or 044-373-116.


Northeastern villagers and 11 teams from eight leading universities design and produce hand-woven textiles.

Do you like the content of this article?