New for Old – Scottish Thai Craft and Design Exchange

20160109 Scottish Thai Design Exchange 292What an amazing way to start the year!  When I started this blog I promised myself to update regularly and to talk about all the inspirational creative projects going on that excite me and I need to share.  However,  I was so caught up in this one that I haven’t had time to write about it.  I can’t promise to be any more regular with my posts (I have now discovered how much time is takes me to type accurately) but I certainly want to really shout about this one.

So I was lucky enough to work on a British Council and SACICT project in Thailand back in 2014 when I was part of the Cultural Enterprise Office team, and I met the most amazing group of Thai makers and social entrepreneurs.  Long story short – over a number of months, Jay from the British Council in Thailand, and I explored how we might bring Scottish and Thai makers and designers together to share their ideas and skills, and generally inspire one another.  In January 2016 myself and Anna King, Lorna Fraser, Sam Goates and Naomi Mcintosh travelled to a remarkable place in the north of Thailand called Phrae to meet a group of eight Thai makers, Vad from Flow Jewellery, Joke from Homlom Studio, Jade from Jetsada Studio, Jaum from PATAPiAN, Pin from Pin Metal Life, Piboon from Plural Designs, Match from Thaniya and Vassana Saima.  We were hosted by the Kaewwanna Indigo Studio, and the hospitality of Krai and his team made us all immediately at home. It was a truly magical time.

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There is a such an enormous team of great people that helped bring this project to life and particular thanks go to Pamela Conacher and Helen Voce, Jay, Kendall, Aom and Nu from British Council, Su, Pom, Sudarat and Aom from SACICT, Simon our fantastic photographer and film maker, as well as all the artists, designers and makers in Phrae who looked after us like we were family.

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I could talk a lot about what we did, but I think Simon’s photographs tell the story so well that I’m just going to let them speak.

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So we all shared things that we knew, learned a lot of new stuff and spoke a lot with our hands.  The 4 workshop days spent together were just the beginning, so what’s next?

In March there were two exhibitions in Thailand.  The first one was at The Ginger Bread House Gallery in Phrae which shared the collaboration and experimentation process and showed the work in progress samples.  The International Innovative Craft Fair in Bangkok, provided the Thai makers with an opportunity to talk about the exchange process but also to showcase the new work they had all developed as a direct result of the workshop.

Back in Scotland we are preparing for a really exciting programme of activities running from 9th to 22nd May 2016.  A group of the Thai makers will be coming over to the UK, firstly to visit Edinburgh and then to travel on to take part in the London Design Festival at Clerkenwell.

In Edinburgh our programme is all based around an interactive exhibition at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, designed by London based Studio Hato, we will show the work in progress samples and a stunningly beautiful film by Simon Mills which documents the exchange experience in Phrae. We  will also be showing new work by both the Scottish and Thai designer and makers, and sharing their fascinating new experiments with materials, making processes and the bringing together of traditional craft making techniques and contemporary design.


These beautiful photographs are from Sam’s indigo tweed experiments, the ultimate combination of Scottish and Thai craft cultures.


To accompany the exhibition we have a programme of workshops and talks, free to attend and open to the public.

Workshop Programme

Saturday 14th May

10.30am-12.00 noon  Fibre Artist Anna King  

Using plain and indigo-dyed paper Anna will show you how to make origami envelopes and other simple folded structures. Use the envelopes to hold small cards with messages and secrets.

2.00pm -3.30pm  Jeweller Naomi Mcintosh

Using a variety of rolling, folding and tearing techniques Naomi will show you how to make      sculptural jewellery and beads using natural indigo-dyed paper.

Sunday May 15th

10.30am-12.00 noon Textile Designer and Weaver Sam Goates

Using a variety of textile weaving techniques, Sam will show you how to use contrasting colours to create interesting woven patterns.

2.00pm – 3.30pm  Ceramic Artist Lorna Fraser

Using techniques that she uses in her ceramic work, Lorna will show you how to make small pictures from nature using a simple process of printing leaves onto indigo-dyed paper.

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2.00pm – 4.00pm

Basket weaving with Varni Southern Wickery, Thailand

Indigo Dyeing with Kaewwanna Indigo Studios, Thailand

Sunday May 22nd

10.30am-12.00 noon Bamboo Weaving with Patapian Studios and Vassana Saima, Thailand

2.00pm – 3.30pm Indigo Dyeing with Homlom Studios, Thailand 

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WuttikaiTalk –  New for Old Creative Social Entrepreneurs in Thailand

Lecture Theatre RBGE, 20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR

11.00am -12.30pm

Many craft businesses in Thailand are social enterprises who work with large communities of makers and craftspeople, with the aim of preserving craft skills and cultural and environmental heritage as well generating sustainable, environmentally conscious livelihoods for those communities. As part of the exchange programme we have invited these makers and business owners to share their stories and inspirational journeys.   You will hear from Kaewwanna Indigo Studios and Varni Southern Wickery.

The New for Old Programme, created and supported by The British Council and SACICT (The Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand) has been running in Thailand since 2014 and we have invited Andrew Glass, Director of British Council Thailand, Saengrawee Singhawiboon, Manager, Product Development and Innovative Crafts, SACICT, Patcharawee Tunprawat, Head of Arts, British Council Thailand, and Carol Sinclair, Project Curator to share the background to and practical details about this exciting project.

The talk is free to attend, but places should be booked through the Eventbrite site here

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VARNI Wicker studio shot


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