The first person we visited was our elephant print and rayon producer, Khun Kaew. After being invited to her house to look through new samples and fabrics where the living room quickly became one huge mess of colourful rayon, we headed off to see where the clothing is assembled. Kaew has been employing a team of tailors who have mostly been operating out of their own homes. Recently however, Kaew has been able to expand by setting up a small workshop on the outskirts of Chiang Mai and purchasing new sewing machines. There is now a mixture of home and workshop production.
The next producers we visited were some of our woodcarvers in the countryside outside Chiang Mai. While we try to give our suppliers as many orders as we can, the reality is that for many wood carving is no longer a big enough source of income to do exclusively. Most of the wood carvers we met on this trip also farmed Longan fruit to supplement their income. In fact, the way in which wood carving is incorporated into everyday life is fascinating. In each house, amongst the traditional carver's tools of hammers, saws and chisels and in between the mountains of sawdust there is plenty of evidence of other enterprise and daily home life. Egg trays and chicken coops, drying fruit, cookware and all manner of pets and animals, all help to show that these are truly small and traditional home industries.