Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pottery Trip Part One

What a fantastic trip yesterday!  It was a very long day but I had a great time and I am so glad that I signed up for the tour.  We left the Embassy about 8:00 am on a very comfortable bus.  There were about 25 of us on the trip and our two guides were Thai which came in handy when we needed help with asking questions, bargaining, etc. We drove about 30 minutes West of Bangkok before stopping at the first pottery shop. This shop featured mostly blue and white pottery but there was a small section with Benjarong. The items for sale were very nice and there were different patterns than those usually seen around Bangkok.  However, this shop was a little too pricey for what they had on offer and no one on the tour bought too much here.  

Our next stop was a pottery factory with a retail shop on-site that just screamed "blue and white" when we drove up!
The wall surrounding the property was painted light coral color and beautifully decorated with pieces of blue and white pottery.  It was so eye-catching!
We were taken on a short tour of the factory and saw the pieces being formed from the clay as well as pieces being painted after the first firing.  
As you can see, this operation was not automated at all so the pieces were not produced in mass quantities.  Everything was formed by hand and carefully hand painted and no two pieces were identical.  The woman who gave us the tour did not speak English very well (and our tour guides were MIA at the time) so we could not ask questions of her.  I really would like to have known what their production amounts are and how long it takes a piece to go from green clay to the retail shelf. 

The pieces in the photo below have been painted and are waiting to be glazed and then fired for the second time.
 The photo below shows the kiln.
Pieces of pottery waiting to be painted and glazed...
After the tour of the factory, we went into the shop to see the finished products.  They had a nice selection of blue and white pottery that was priced very inexpensively. 
We left this shop and had enough time for a quick stop at a riverside market before going to lunch. I am going to save the photos from that visit for tomorrow's post.  It was quite an experience and I have a lot of photos!  

After lunch, we continued on to Don Kai Dee Benjarong Village, a small village that specializes in making Benjarong porcelain.  There are five shops in the village and they all participate in the OTOP project (One Town, One Product).  The project began in Thailand in 2001as way to promote the production of indigenous products and to help boost the local economies and incomes of the communities.  We visited all of the shops in the village and, although it seemed like the shops were all offering the same products, there were big price differences.  The Benjarong porcelain is very nice too look at but there was nothing that I totally loved and had to have so I just walked around and looked.  There were some beautiful displays of the Benjarong pieces.
We were able to watch the Benjarong pieces being painted.

The spirit house in the Benjarong village.
We left the Benjarong village and went to our last stop - another blue and white pottery factory with a very small retail shop (simply a room) on-site.  Although this shop had a very limited selection of items for sale, this is where I scored my best buys - 3 very large ginger jar/urns for about $15 USD each.  I was so excited as I had priced these in the US at about $125 each. As you can imagine, Kevin was just thrilled with how much money I saved him!  

Other than the great bargains at this shop, the only other thing that caught my eye was how they transported all of our fragile purchases from the 2nd floor down to the bus.  
Yes, that is a pulley.  Talk about basic!

Just as all of the boxes were loaded into the bus, the wind began to gust and it started to pour.  It continued to rain for most of the 1 1/2 hour trip back to the Embassy.  I have no idea exactly where we were during this trip and plan to sit with a map and try and figure out our route in case I ever want to go back to any of the shops. The photos below are of a bush that was next to where our bus parked.  I have no idea what it is  called but the different shades of the pink flowers against the bright green leaves were so pretty.
Have a great Sunday!


Hiroki Hata said...

So beautiful ceramics, Mrs. Kristen! I am so interested in the blue and while tablewares. May I know where is the shop in western Bangkok?

Ratna Sagar said...

Enjoyed the content and pictures in your blog. I would like to know the name of the shop if you remember :-). Also, is there any wholesale market in Bangkok for Blue Potteries & Benjarongs?
Looking forward for your response!
Thank you!