KRU AEK'S NATURAL DYE STUDIO, BANPANGKOM, NAN
Allow me to share with you a taste of my experience at Kru Aek's Natural Dye Studio in a small village of Nan Province, 750kms. from Bangkok.
Just two weeks after returning from a three and a half month training course on Asian Craftwork with focus on natural dye and weaving in Kanazawa, Japan, FolkCharm continues the journey to explore local crafts in remote villages of Thailand. This time, I travelled about 750 kilometers from Bangkok to Ban Pang Kom Village in Nan Province to spend one week at Kru Aek’s Natural Dye Studio.
Kru Aek Supit Suwanmanee, a former development worker, has over twenty years of experience in natural dye and is working with locals from 3 villages to design beautiful hand-woven textiles using traditional techniques unique to the Northern region. Though we’ve never met before, he’s welcomed me with his sincere hospitality and such humility despite his nation-wide recognition and achievements. Kru Aek is a native of Pattalung, a Southern province 1600 kilometers from Nan Province who fell in love with Nan during his days as a development field worker and settled here a little over 20 years ago. His love for nature in addition to his passion for traditional textile inspired him to start learning natural dye, experimenting on local plants by himself. He then applies the knowledge on traditional weaving techniques of Thai-Leu, working with community groups to create intricate designs and patterns, and relentlessly teach many many community groups on the art of natural dyes from local plants.
I am spending my nights at the home of a Ban Pang Kom weaving group member and walk about three minutes to spend the days at Kru Aek’s house and natural dye studio, situated right by a small stream and adjacent to endless rice fields overlooking the mountains. His products are “Sinn” or traditional long skirt commonly in countries in the GMS, ‘Yaam’ shoulder bags, scarves, shawls, and table runners.