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Post 350 Going pots in Siam

About 10 miles east of Korat in Central Thailand, is the district of Dan Kwian. For longer than anybody has cared to write things down, Dan Kwian has been Thailand’s centre for the production of pottery and ceramics. It’s not really signposted, but then maybe it is but the signs might all be written in Thai and unless the sign reads ‘Beer’ or ‘Puncture Fix’ then I’m just a little bit clueless. It’s easy enough to find, just head towards Udon Thani on the main road and all of a sudden the roadside markets stalls will change. You’ve now reached Dan Kwian. For a distance of around 2 miles both sides of the main road are saturated with ceramic outlets of every size. Don’t be fooled or put off by the bling fairgroundesque offerings that are displayed at the roadside. The garish stuff is only there to provide colour to draw in the passing traffic and the good stuff is hidden away behind it.
Pots and vases of every size and shape are produced on site by artisans using local clay. They tend to be family run small businesses with different members of each family learning a different skill necessary for producing the end product. Some outlets have their own turtleback kilns that are fired once a week, seemingly always operated by the men of the family. That’s probably not because the men are any more skilled than the women, but if they’re only working one day a week then it gives them more time for general idleness and drinking, which can often be the Thai way.

If you can discover the right outlet, and find out who is in charge, then they’ll produce absolutely anything to your own specification. If you don’t have your own specification, then show them a picture of Clarice Cliff, Joy Navastie, Moorcroft or even Troika and a week later, it‘s yours. Personally I love the big vases and urns that they produce here, but it’s a question of how to get them home and then finding a home to actually put them in. The other thing of course is the price. A one metre tall vase will cost around 800 Thai Baht or $20 for a single piece ….. and around half of that if your buying in quantity. There’s got to be a new business in there somewhere for me … mai pen rai kap

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