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Fah Thai Magazine Nov-Dec 2018

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MAKUT ONRUDEE<br />

copy of Totto-Chan, I was fascinated<br />

by its beautiful and sweet cover. I<br />

wished it to have an embroidered<br />

cover to complement that beauty.<br />

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it<br />

going because I couldn’t find a<br />

fine embroiderer.”<br />

This year, he came across<br />

Nopphakao Netbutr, an independent<br />

female embroidery artist who<br />

wanders around with stitching<br />

needles and threads in <strong>Thai</strong>land’s<br />

Deep South to teach local people the<br />

art of ornamental needlework. That<br />

meeting re-ignited Makut’s passion<br />

for making an embroidered cover.<br />

The editor convinced the<br />

embroidery artist that with needles<br />

and pens, they can co-create new<br />

and potent art. The exquisite<br />

embroidery art could take the<br />

beautiful story of Kru Wai Jai Rai to<br />

the next level, and vice versa.<br />

“Nopphakao was interested<br />

in a threaded cover project, but<br />

she wasn’t sure how long it would<br />

take as embroidering was such a<br />

time-consuming process. She needs<br />

several weeks to complete a piece<br />

of embroidered cover. A hundred<br />

covers would take around two<br />

years,” said Makut.<br />

Creating the expected 500 pieces<br />

would surely take an eternity. And<br />

no one can wait that long. So the<br />

editor himself and the embroidery<br />

artist spread the news about their<br />

planned project to an embroidery<br />

Top Left & Right<br />

Several embroiderers<br />

work on the same<br />

book concept and the<br />

same pattern, yet<br />

they each add their<br />

own details.<br />

For Kru Wai, an<br />

embroiderer may<br />

choose a different<br />

hair colour,<br />

different styles of<br />

floral prints, or add<br />

blush to her cheeks<br />

or even a hint of<br />

a smile.<br />

community and asked if anyone<br />

would like to participate. The<br />

response was phenomenal as more<br />

than 200 embroiderers turn up.<br />

Butterfly Book then decided to<br />

create its first embroidered cover<br />

with Kru Wai Jai Rai – one of its<br />

bestselling novels written by another<br />

co-founder Phakawadee Uttamote.<br />

The book tells a story of an older<br />

female schoolteacher – infamous for<br />

her strictness and cold looks, making<br />

students and villagers in the small<br />

village nickname Kru Wai (Teacher<br />

Wai), as jai rai (mean in <strong>Thai</strong>).<br />

The idea of embroidering a book<br />

cover is not new but an ancient art.<br />

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the<br />

Europeans embroidered a Bible cover<br />

in cotton, silk and even gold threads.<br />

Needlework on a book is luxurious<br />

and the painstaking process of<br />

thought and work that must go into<br />

both aspects of embroidering<br />

and bookbinding.<br />

In 2011, Penguin Books (USA)<br />

commissioned artist Jillian Tamaki,<br />

an illustrator and comic artist<br />

(who also has a strong passion for<br />

embroidery), to create embroidered<br />

covers for three classic novels –<br />

“Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell,<br />

“The Secret Garden” by Frances<br />

Hodson Burnett and “Emma” by<br />

Jane Austen. Tamaki completed the<br />

three covers by hand over a twomonth<br />

period before her original<br />

copies were reproduced through an<br />

innovative printing technique for<br />

final covers.<br />

The stitch-like book covers<br />

are spellbinding – but each book<br />

does not give a sense of originality<br />

as Butterfly Book does. Their<br />

threaded series, on the other<br />

hand, offer original embroidery<br />

and needlework on every cover.<br />

“We print 500 copies, and each<br />

has its unique cover. Not one of<br />

those 500 covers are the same<br />

since they’re stitched by different<br />

embroiderers,” said Makut,<br />

illustrating his point as he showed<br />

five different stitched covers.<br />

“Before the project started,<br />

the local embroiderers had no idea<br />

about the story of the book they’re<br />

working on, because they don’t read<br />

a novel or anything [else]. Once<br />

the project carried on, they went<br />

through the story to find out who<br />

Teacher Wai is. They then discussed<br />

the character and passed along the<br />

stories around their circle in their<br />

embroidery community,” related<br />

Makut, who has dedicated himself<br />

to promoting reading among <strong>Thai</strong>s<br />

for decades.<br />

Already, Kru Wai Jai Rai with its<br />

stitched cover got more than 300<br />

copies sold at the pre-order period.<br />

Butterfly Book plans to exhibit all<br />

500 of the embroidered covers at<br />

the National Library of <strong>Thai</strong>land<br />

before the delivery of the luxurious<br />

edition to the bibliophiles.<br />

62

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