During the dry winter season in central Thailand, some village farmers become prospectors, panning local riverbeds for gold nuggets that are usually no bigger than the tiny gold-plated beads in this wrap bracelet. Like the search for gold, the process of hand-tying each of the hundreds of beads to azure leather cord takes patience and a steady hand. Thai artisan Panapha relishes the meditative quality of the work, especially within the sometimes chaotic, always creative atmosphere of Chiang Mai. A hand-cast, gold-plated button secures the stylish wrap design.
Handcrafted in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 24-karat gold-plated brass, leather, and nylon cord. Approx. 35"L x 1/4"W.
When Panapha was a young girl in Chiang Mai, her parents ran a restaurant in the city’s famous night bazaar. She and her four sisters helped out after school, and it was from the silversmiths and artisans at the bazaar that she first learned how to make jewelry. After school she worked in the publishing industry, but she says, “I realized that I was missing something in life, and that was putting my heart and soul into my art.” Since then she has focused on designing and making jewelry. “I am not a talkative person,” she says, “I am actually rather quiet and I sometimes find it very difficult to express myself in words. I do, however, love to express myself by making jewelry.”
The dozens of beads that make up this design are laid out on a wooden board with small nails and arranged one by one. The leather strands are laid alongside the beads, which are individually threaded and knotted to the leather cord. The process is so meticulous that it’s possible to create only three bracelets per day.