Having experienced a difficult childhood, Somporn Intaraprayong learned how to become self-sufficient, but she also acquired empathy — especially towards women who have struggled to provide for themselves and their children. As a textile artist, Somporn is self-taught and she has taken her creativity, passion, and discipline across various regions in Thailand to teach women to sew clothing and accessories by hand using traditional techniques and stitches.
An eight time participant of the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, Somporn’s booth is a must-stop for textile collectors. It’s advised that it should be one of the first visited because it also happens to be one of the first to sell out. In 2018, Somporn spoke at a panel where she shared stories about her community of seamstresses and sewers whose stories of life in the rice fields are told via the fine stitches of their textile work.
Ampornpun Tongchai, one of the textile artists Somporn works with, learned to sew, weave, and dye from her mother and grandmother. At her cooperative in northeast Thailand, she and other weavers use natural dyes like indigo, tamarind and mango leaf in their weavings. Both the sewn items and the weavings have become a way to improve the lives of the seamstresses and weavers, but they also embody tradition and cultural identity and foster a sense of unity and community. Best of all, the work helps support families and provides an education for children of this extended family.
By providing sterling silver with which to work, as well as design input, jeweler Wandee Jitnirat is helping to keep the silversmithing tradition alive, specifically among Yao and Hmong men and women, among the most recognized Hill Tribe craftspeople. This results, of course, in financial impact among the artists’ families. Wandee and her husband have a history of working with NGOs throughout Thailand, helping families living in the slums in Sakon Nakhon Province.