Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chinese New Year

Last week we celebrated Chinese New Year.  (It's based on the lunar calendar, so the date always changes, but it usually falls in February.  This year it was February 10.)  Although Thailand has its own calendar and celebrates its New Year in April, many Thais are of Chinese descent.  So while Chinese New Year is not a national holiday, it is widely observed and celebrated in Thailand.

This New Year, we enter the Chinese year 4711, the year of the snake.  According to the Chinese zodiac, the snake year is a time for steady progress and attention to detail.  Focus and discipline will be necessary for success in one's goals.


toy dragons
street festival

The Chinese love their duck.

Texas Suki - a Texan/Japanese/Thai restaurant

me and Dane under the lovely red lanterns



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hill Tribe Silver

  Hill tribe silver necklaces are here!  I actually made these last week, but couldn't get any decent sunlight for photographing.  (It's the time of year when farmers burn the rice paddies after harvesting, so often the sky is just a dull white haze from the smoke.)  But finally, we got some sunshine, so 3 new necklaces of hill tribe silver are now made, photographed and just added to my shop.  Here's a little preview.

 Aqua "Om"
available here:

Clarity Lotus
available here:

  Aqua Lotus
available here:

 Who makes this "hill tribe" silver?

  The more traditional ethnic populations in Asia are often referred to as “hill tribes” because most reside in mountainous, densely forested, and remote regions.  Of the twenty hill tribes residing in Thailand and Burma today, the Karen tribe is the largest.  After migrating from Tibet in the 12th century, they primarily resided in Burma for centuries, comprising 7% of the Burmese population.  However, over the last few decades, they have been increasingly persecuted and marginalized, so many have begun to seek refuge in Thailand.

Karen village in western Thailand near Burmese border
 Originally, there was not actually just one Karen tribe but many loosely related heterogeneous populations with varying dialects, religions, customs, styles of dress, etc.  However, due to disenfranchisement, these sub-groups have sought to unify in recent decades in order to gain greater recognition from the Burmese government.


 Though they are skillful metallurgists, artisans and weavers, they are predominantly farmers and live in remote villages. Their houses are made of teak or bamboo and are usually constructed on stilts to protect from flooding in the rainy season and to serve as shelter for livestock. The Karen villagers have few possessions and little if any furniture, usually sleeping on floor mats, cooking on open fires, and collecting drinking and washing water from a nearby river. 

 Today, the Karen people face a variety of problems including poverty, disease, discrimination, loss of culture and a lack of opportunities.

What makes Karen hill tribe silver so special?

 Karen silver actually has a higher silver content than Sterling silver.  Karen silver is between 99.5% and 99.9% pure silver.  It's just the solder used to fuse the silver components together that makes up the last fractions of a percent. Therefore, Karen silver is of exceptional quality and has a unique color and feel to it.

 But perhaps even better than that, every piece is handmade and individual. Created in simple forges, the pieces are hammered by hand, and then decorated by chasing (i.e. etching) or using hand-carved stamps and moulds.

 How you help…

  Through the support of their artisan crafts, we give vitality and opportunity to the Karen people.  Not only does your purchase from Lotus and Lace Boutique contribute to my Karen suppliers, but I also give 10% of profits to UNHCR Thailand, a charitable organization aiding Karen refugees in Thailand.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Hodge-Podge of Decoupage

Before I move on to new projects, I wanted to share my workspace and a few recent creations.  These weren’t made for my shop, just some home projects.  But I was pleased with the results and thought other crafters might enjoy the ideas.

I had some organizers I liked to keep on my table, but they were cheap, plasticky and rather bright and ugly.  I thought about stowing them away in a cabinet, but it is so handy to have them right there at an arm’s length when I’m working.  So I decided they needed a make-over. 

I didn’t think to take a “before” photo, but the drawers started out basically looking like this hot pink thang.

I removed the drawers and spray-painted them black.  Then after they dried, I decorated them with some Thai designs using a gold paint pen.  


The spiral and squiggly line symbol is called an “unalome” and represents the attainment of enlightenment.  The zig-zag shape evolving into a straight line mirrors one’s path coming into focus, when one has ceased to be diverted and is now on a direct path to Nirvana.  The other symbol that looks sort of like a 3 is Tibetan writing for “Om” or “Aum,” the sound often chanted during yogic meditation.

Unalome and Om

Other Thai motifs

 The top of the drawers had a bright pink flip-down lid.  Rather than trying to spray paint this, I decided to cover it with decorative paper.  I used some beautiful Thai wrapping paper that depicts traditional Thai life.  I adhered it with Mod Podge and then applied a topcoat to protect it. 

I used the same paper and technique on a pencil organizer, then trimmed it with ribbon and decorated the top with the gold paint pen.  (Yes, I know it is really a toothbrush/toothpaste bathroom organizer, but it works great for pens and scissors.)

The Final Set

My Work Table

 I even used this decoupage technique on our reading lamps.  Again, they were rather bright and gaudy but had been the only colors available when we got them.  So I picked out some paper and went to work on them.  For Dane’s, I found an image of an old map online and printed it.  For mine, I used an old postcard and clippings from Victoria Magazine.  And VoilĂ !  

What can’t Mod Podge do?