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Shutikarn Kantung

"I don't plan seriously for the future. I want to be happy with the present... I hope you'll associate me and my work with the preservation of Thai art, culture and traditional folk wisdom."

"I have faith and believe in the culture, art and folk wisdom of Northern Thailand. I also love our old temples. If no... one preserves them, they will slowly disappear.

"Thai wood jewelry comes from our ancient people who used wood lathes from time to time. We can help to preserve these skills by wearing this jewelry today.

"In my childhood, I lived in the countryside and my parents were farmers. When I grew older, I moved to Chiang Mai to find a job. I started as a temporary worker, then became a tailor of student uniforms. I made them for many schools around the city. It was hard work and, as I had to meet my deadlines, I often didn't have time to rest and sleep. I eventually developed a chronic illness involving my elbow and wrist and the doctor recommended I stop working while under treatment. So I tried to find another job that didn't affect my pain.

"I had always like creating jewelry from wood for my own use. I like the different wood grains and colors. Also, wooden beads are lightweight and not expensive. When my friends saw my jewelry, they always liked it and wanted to buy some.

"So I decided to craft jewelry, and began with materials like mango wood and coconut shell. I made necklaces and bracelets, and sold them around the city.

"A monk suggested using the sacred names for the wood because it relates to our beliefs from the past. So I tried to expand my designs by using wood from the sacred name trees I could find in the area, such as jackfruit, tamarind, star gooseberry or padauk, and shaping it into beads.

"My husband, who has skill in woodworking, helped me and gave me advice about how to select the branches and how to know the wood's age. Mostly I get wood from dry, fallen branches because it's popular here to plant these sacred trees around people's homes.

"Tradition tells of each tree's blessings.

Tamarind – Makes you powerful, helps protect in times of trouble
Star gooseberry – Increases your popularity and charm
Jackfruit – Helps support you in your life and career
Golden shower tree – The Thai national tree, it helps create honor and dignity
Padauk – Fosters peace in your life and family
Cassia Tree – Encourages might and wealth

"My only labor-saving device is a motor to help spin our small wood lathes. Our crafting process is eco-friendly in that we try to use every piece of wood. Even the sawdust can be mixed with soil to improve its quality for plants.

"I've been able to give work to villagers and neighbors that they can do at home, and it lets them earn an extra income. I'm very excited and appreciative about showing my jewelry worldwide through NOVICA.

"I don't plan seriously for the future. I want to be happy with the present and do my best every day. I hope you'll associate me and my work with the preservation of Thai art, culture and traditional folk wisdom."
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