Tag Archives: luck

Thai crafts have an auspicious future

Thailand’s International Innovation Craft Fair represents a substantial commitment to the support of its crafts within a global context. The fair is organised by the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SACIST). It includes an Innovative Craft Award, New Heritage Exhibition, Prototype Product Design Gallery, Craft Trend Exhibition, Mobile Gallery and more than 300 booths. Behind the scenes, it is the occasion for three significant MOUs involving the Intellectual Property Department, Thammasat University and National Discovery Museum.

The Thai crafts were quite impressive. Booths were organised in dense Bangkok style and filled with the latest products. I particularly liked the This Means That versions of Thai folk deities, Benjametha ceramics from the Muslim south, and the light fitting made in collaboration with birdcage craftspersons by Supachi Klawtanong.  Outside Thailand, the Lao textiles were outstanding, alongside the stylish textiles from Edric Ong’s studio, and impressive contributions from Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. Beyond ASEAN, there were high quality products from India, Kygystan,  Taiwan, Syria, Iran and even Peru.

To complement the displays was a day-long seminar on ASEAN crafts, which featured wonderfully articulate and interesting designers and craftspersons from the breadth of South-East Asia. Pham Huyen Kieu from Vietnam’s Haki Craft was particularly impressive in his advocacy of co-crafting community as a way of attracting more young people. At the end, the speakers reflected on the common threads between their approaches. They all agreed that ASEAN designers shared a common commitment to supporting and using their local crafts.

Despite its scale, the Craft Fair still has room to evolve. The emphasis in craft innovation tends to be on home decoration. But there are only a limited number of light fittings or stools that can be sold, and there will always be stiff competition from cheaper industrial versions. Traditional crafts in Thailand are often tied to their rich array of cultural rituals. The challenge ahead is to find ways of adapting these rituals to modern lifestyles. Many rituals involve good luck. Today’s designers and makers have much to gain in adding auspiciousness to their products. Form, function and fortune would be a winning combination.

For more information about the fair, go to the Facebook page.


The Joyaviva project – ‘live’ jewellery that changes your world

Joyaviva has recently opened at RMIT Gallery, Melbourne. So begins a journey across the Pacific, to explore how the power of jewellery might be renewed for contemporary challenges.

21 jewellers from Australia, New Zealand and Chile draw from their cultures to create objects that can change our lives. Others will join from Bolivia and Mexico when Joyaviva is in Latin America, and the stories will grow as more people host the charms.

Objects in Joyaviva were created for issues relevant to the jeweller’s world, including recent earthquakes, road deaths, school exams, fertility, managerialism or sheer exuberant sociability. The exhibition combines the charms themselves with documentation of their use, including diaries, photos, videos and drawings.

To find out more, go to www.joyaviva.net, where you will find ways of tracking the journey.


  • Australia: Roseanne Bartley, Melissa Cameron & Jill Hermans, Caz Guiney, Jin ah Jo, Blanche Tilden, Alice Whish
  • New Zealand: Jacqui Chan, Ilse-Marie Erl, Sarah Read, Gina Ropiha, Areta Wilkinson, Matthew Wilson, Kathryn Yeats
  • Chile: Guillermina Atunez, Francisco Ceppi, Analya Cespedes, Carolina Hornauer, Massiel Mariel, Angela Cura Mendez, Valentina Rosenthal, WALKA STUDIO

The exhibition is at RMIT Gallery until 24 March. Make a wish…

‘Shaky’ start for charm schools in Chile

The Southern Charms project had a ‘shaky’ start in Chile. The workshops were very popular and produced wonderful new forms of power jewellery, but the recent tragedy of the earthquake was a dominant theme.



The Valparaiso ‘clinic’ attracted around 100 participants, thanks to the good work of Professor Patty Gunther, who has been leading innovative programs in social design at the Universidad de Valparaiso. With such a number, I was very grateful for the assistance of local jewellers Omar Luengo and Nicholás Hernández.

Omar Lunego talking to participants

Omar Lunego talking to participants

Our task was to identify problems that required something more than a simple practical solution to be resolved, and then to design objects that might fill that void. Patty had provided boxes of the fragments left after the earthquake had destroyed so many precious things. How to turn this destruction into beautiful jewellery was a subtext of this workshop.



The workshop addressed this with great gusto and overnight amazingly well-formulated objects emerged. As usual with Valparaiso, the tenor was idealistic: broad problems were identified such as loneliness and environmental change. The results tended to take the form of objects that could be broken up, with the parts distributed to people who would then have a point of contact with each other. One of the pieces responding to the threat of tsunami used the Mapuche myth of the sea serpent tren tren to great effect.

Santiago Charm School

Santiago Charm School

The Santiago ‘escuela de encanto’ was more specialised in jewellery. The workshop was organised by local jewellers Francisco Ceppi and Valentina Rosenthal and took place at the Museo Bellas Artes, the august national art gallery. Participants included 34 of the city’s top jewellers. Their problems were more concrete than those at Valparaiso, including the job interview, school examination, chemotherapy and overseas student exchange. Earthquake related problems included the emergency bag kept by the door and protection for the house. Over two intense days, groups developed designs for objects to help us cope with these challenges. The charm for examination was based on the tradition of the torpedo, where students insert a scroll of formulae into their pens to help get the right answers – though in this case the paper contained messages of encouragement. The charm for chemotherapy used the very plastic tubing that makes this procedure so uncomfortable, transforming this into a colourful bracelet form. What worked particularly well were the performances, where groups enacted the power of their objects.



We all learned a great deal from these workshops. We learned how important it was to have a tradition on which to build – something that provides ‘roots’ for the object. And the performances revealed the choreography of giving that helps charge the object with its ‘power’.

The seed has been sown. We’ll see what results from this when the Southern Charms exhibition arises next year, hopefully now touring back to Chile. The present challenge is to extend the Latin American component to include Bolivia, with its global voice on climate change. But more immediately we have the workshops looming in Sydney and Melbourne. The focus on earthquake in Chile could have an interesting echo with the issue of bushfires in Victoria. Both challenges demand more than just technological responses, they require contexts in which people can come together, rather than fend for themselves.

  • For updates on the Southern Charms project, tune into #charm101 on twitter.
  • Visit the Santiago blog here.
  • Bookings for the Melbourne Charm School here.
The scene directly outside the Museo Bellas Artes where something was always happening.

The scene directly outside the Museo Bellas Artes where something was always happening.