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Chomsuda Samana

Chomsuda Samana

"When I look back at my decision to not go abroad, I don't regret it at all. If I had left Thailand, there'd have been no one to continue the batik work that my mother truly loves."

"I was born in Bangkok in 1974, where I spent my childhood. Then my family moved to northern Thailand when my father was... sent there for his government job.

"My mother began working in batik in 1973, and I learned the techniques of textile dyeing, waxed drawing, and color combination from my father, who graduated with a degree in textiles and is also an expert in the industry promotion center.

"At first, my mother produced only simple motifs using easy techniques, but she focused mainly on the quality, so the colors had to be durable. Most of her early designs used woven fabric that could be used for tablecloths, sarongs, and such. At that time, batik was very new and her work rapidly became popular.

"I helped my mother work at home with wax drawing and simple painting. However, I only helped her as a child playing. Sometimes I'd dip my hands into the liquid wax and let it dry so it felt like I was wearing gloves. Everyone must have been nervous, though, when they had to help me take it off.

"While studying, I participated in almost all the school activities, like sports, music, debate, etc., so I received awards from the school every year.

"After graduating from high school, I got a scholarship to study accounting. I wanted to help with our home workshop. We started selling materials for weaving and dying cloth because it was difficult to find at that time. We had to order everything from Bangkok.

"After completing my bachelor's degree, I was awarded a scholarship to study in the United States. My family agreed and encouraged me, so I tried my best to prepare for the English exams. I took the exam several times before I passed.

"I had almost everything ready to go, and had even reserved accommodations and chosen my departure date. Unfortunately, my mother didn't agree to let me go. She asked me to stay in Thailand because she was afraid I wouldn't come back to live here again after graduating abroad. She cried and begged me to change my mind, and said she would give me her batik workshop. I was very confused because everything had been prepared. However, I love her and decided to stay. Since then, I have taken care of her batik, although I didn't feel excited or enthusiastic at first because I'd been involved in the art since childhood.

"I felt the pressure when I had to take the work seriously. I had to adapt in many ways and it was very challenging. I thought I had a certain expertise in batik fabric but, when the day came, I had to study many new things.

"There were many obstacles to face, for example, when the color would not be as desired. I was very discouraged but my mother always encouraged me and helped me find the solution.

"In addition to my parents, another important person who empowered me is my sister. She graduated in textiles. She helps me to develop more techniques to create many varieties of batik fabric. There were more complex processes that resulted in a more quaint beauty. Therefore, our batiks are outstanding and more modern.

"We begin with a white cloth or piece of clothing. We draw the pattern onto the fabric with a pencil, and use the wax pen, or jancting to write the pattern lines in order to block color absorption. Then the cloth is dyed. The colors have to be absorbed through both the front and back of the fabric. Once it dries, we coat the cloth with sodium silicate to make the color permanent. We leave it on for a while, then rinse it out. Next, the fabric goes into boiling water with artificial soap to melt the wax out. After that, it is rinsed thoroughly once more.

"Each piece of batik takes at least two days, and we rely on the sunlight to dry it.

"Our garments are given to the villagers to sew, and this helps distribute income to the community.

"Batik fabric work is now a tradition in Thailand and is widespread throughout the country. Each area has its own identity, which can be seen in the patterns. For my batik work, I have focused on the selection of quality materials to create my own unique motifs. I apply some special techniques to make it more interesting, such as making textures on solid color or creating two layers of color on the wax to create more beautiful patterns.

"Currently, my father has retired. He and my mother have been spending time with their longan orchard and planting vegetables. My sister and I take care of the batik workshop on our own.

"When I look back at my decision to not go abroad, I don't regret it at all. If I had left Thailand, there'd have been no one to continue the batik work that my mother truly loves. And I don't believe we'd be together as a family like we are.

"Someday, I would like to open a school to train interested people to do batik work professionally, and without charging tuition. My inspiration for this comes from my father. He told me that he used to teach a person who felt so hopeless that she even thought about committing suicide. When she received training, she felt more encouraged. She has work to do and it is work that she loves. Now she really has a joyful life and can earn an income by doing batik.

"I would like to thank my parents and my sister who taught me about batik. I sincerely hope that you like my designs."
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