About

A Journey into Thai Culture

My blog is a journey into both Thailand and Thai culture. It’s a cultural travel guide of sorts with an emphasis on fabrics and Thai pillows.

I have been living in, travelling to, and coming and going from Thailand for two decades. I’ve worked alongside Thais; attended their weddings and funerals; eat Thai food more often than farang; and attend Buddhist ceremonies. My son is Thai.  My family is Thai. I was married in a Thai wat with nine monks chanting. I could go on and on…. You get the picture.

For a more expanded version of my “Thai chops” please read: My Thai Life. It’s the beginning chapter of my blog.

This Blog

I tend to post in spurts. Just when you think my blog has finally gone silent for good, I’ll suddenly post a frenzy of essays.

My son tells me to be a successful blogger I need to post regularly-weekly, monthly or everyday.  (Everyday! Who has something interesting to say everyday?) I patiently explain to him that I have posts that took me weeks just to research, another week to write, and another week after that to get the photos/graphics ready.

I also update this blog frequently especially my most popular posts about Thai fabrics. I’m always getting new info and finding more photos that I’ll add. So don’t be fooled by the original posting date-I usually update these posts every 6 months.

Needless to say my blog, while it may appear random, is not a collection of random thoughts.

The Thai Fabric Chronicles

Fabric Shopping in Chiang Mai
My wife fabric shopping in Chiang Mai.

Much of my blog is about Thai fabrics-Thai handwoven fabrics to be specific. Traditional fabrics are a cultural treasure of Thailand.

I consider myself an expert on handwoven Thai fabrics, especially Thai silk. I’ve written extensively about both Thai silk production and Thai silk fabrics.

My fabric expertise stems from the export business my wife and I started many years ago. Along the way, I’ve purchased tens of thousands of dollars worth of Thai silk from village weavers and so gained an expertise and love for this legendary fabric and the people who produce it.

Thai Pillows

My love for Thai fabrics is only eclipsed by my love for Thai pillows. Over the years, I exported to the U.S. over 30 ocean freight containers of Thai pillows. That’s a lot of pillows! The pillow makers of Esaan are close family friends and will remain so forever.

Thai pillows, their history, how they’re made, and their quality is my deepest passion.

A Very Little More About Myself

Born in northern Ohio on the banks of Lake Erie in the winter.  A snowy, cold start to life. Lived here and there in the U.S., mostly in L.A. Went to the University of Arizona, which turned out to be great preparation for the heat of Thailand. I also went to law school-sorry!

The Siamese Puzzle Box

Whether by choice or fate, I’ve been dragged across a cultural chasm from White culture to Thai culture. It doesn’t happen overnight, but is the result of over two decades of intimate contact with all things Thai.

-Jeff

 

 

10 comments

  1. HELLO! I am headed to Chiang Mai next month and would LOVE to bring home some handwoven Thai fabrics. Do you have any vendors in the Chiang Mai fabric market that you recommend for handwoven fabrics? I am not an “expert” of fabrics and would not necessarily know the difference. THANKS in advance

    • Hello 2girlsandabikini,

      You ask a great question that I really can’t answer. The Chiang Mai fabric district is a warren of streets and alleys with countless small fabric sellers. I have my favorites but I don’t know the addresses or even the names of the alleyways or streets. My blog is filled with photos of handwoven fabrics so you can learn a lot from my photos. Also read as much as you can of my Fabric Chronicles which will teach you lots about Thai handwoven fabric.

      Handwovens are often folded up and stacked on a counter top. English is somewhat spoken in the Fabric District so ask the vendor. They know and will be happy to show you their handwovens. You should easily be able to find handwovens even with just a quick visit (an hour) to the Fabric District.

      Handwoven fabrics are usually about 30-35 inches in diameter and have a length of 2-4 meters. If the fabric is rolled into a bolt that’s 50 meters long it is not handwoven. If the width is 50+ inches, it’s almost certainly not handwoven. Handwovens almost never have a printed pattern-their patterns are woven or mudmee. (read my blog post on mudmee) Only buy fabric from dedicated fabric stores. The handwovens are sold in the smaller fabric stores. Enjoy the Fabric District-it’s “old Chiang Mai” in style. Good luck!

  2. Hi, I would like to get a couple folding pillows with the ikat fabric. Will it be possible to buy from you?

    • Hi Ancha,

      Thanks for writing. I no longer make Thai pillows commercially as I’m now officially retired. I doubt you’ll find a place that makes ikat Thai pillows first and them sells them to the general public. It’s usually a custom pillow arrangement-you buy and bring the fabric to a pillow maker and they’ll quote you a price.

  3. Hello! I read your entry on Thai fisherman pants with great interest. I’m disappointed to hear you’re no longer making/selling your pants! Is there another seller that you’d recommend that makes the J seam pants (I prefer mine above the ankle)? Thank you!

    • Hi Nancy,

      I can’t recommend any specific seller of fish pants that make them with the j seam. (That’s a traditional northern design.) Your best bet is to look at vendors in the Chiang Mai area. Best of luck.

  4. Hi, Jeff,
    I have so enjoyed going thru your blogs in the last few months. I am very passionate about Thai fabrics, to the point of having a business for over 10 years selling Thai fabrics in the United States at sewing and quilting show. I am leaving March 5 for my 32nd trip, and can’t believe I never knew about you. I have some specific silk buying question that I would like to email you about. May I email you?
    gale@spiritoftheartisan.com

    • Hi Gale. Yes! I sent you my email address to your email address listed on this query. I look forward to hearing from you.

  5. Thank you for all of the helpful information in your blog. I import 8mm silk habotai from China to the US, but due to the new tariffs, I am looking for another source. I know that you specialize in handwoven silk, but for my purposes I do not need for it to be handwoven. Can you recommend a supplier in Thailand?

    • Hi Alan. Thanks for contacting me. I’m not aware of habotai silk being woven in Thailand. China is by far the biggest producer of habotai silk (as you already know). I would look to a textile supplier in India. If you google “habotai silk in India” you’ll get lots of manufacturers/wholesalers in India. The fabric originated in Japan, but I’m not sure if there are any Japanese manufacturers that still produce it. India is your best bet. India has always had a very accomplished silk industry. Best of luck.

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