Fah Thai Magazine Nov-Dec 2018

fahthaimag

MAKUT ONRUDEE

copy of Totto-Chan, I was fascinated

by its beautiful and sweet cover. I

wished it to have an embroidered

cover to complement that beauty.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it

going because I couldn’t find a

fine embroiderer.”

This year, he came across

Nopphakao Netbutr, an independent

female embroidery artist who

wanders around with stitching

needles and threads in Thailand’s

Deep South to teach local people the

art of ornamental needlework. That

meeting re-ignited Makut’s passion

for making an embroidered cover.

The editor convinced the

embroidery artist that with needles

and pens, they can co-create new

and potent art. The exquisite

embroidery art could take the

beautiful story of Kru Wai Jai Rai to

the next level, and vice versa.

“Nopphakao was interested

in a threaded cover project, but

she wasn’t sure how long it would

take as embroidering was such a

time-consuming process. She needs

several weeks to complete a piece

of embroidered cover. A hundred

covers would take around two

years,” said Makut.

Creating the expected 500 pieces

would surely take an eternity. And

no one can wait that long. So the

editor himself and the embroidery

artist spread the news about their

planned project to an embroidery

Top Left & Right

Several embroiderers

work on the same

book concept and the

same pattern, yet

they each add their

own details.

For Kru Wai, an

embroiderer may

choose a different

hair colour,

different styles of

floral prints, or add

blush to her cheeks

or even a hint of

a smile.

community and asked if anyone

would like to participate. The

response was phenomenal as more

than 200 embroiderers turn up.

Butterfly Book then decided to

create its first embroidered cover

with Kru Wai Jai Rai – one of its

bestselling novels written by another

co-founder Phakawadee Uttamote.

The book tells a story of an older

female schoolteacher – infamous for

her strictness and cold looks, making

students and villagers in the small

village nickname Kru Wai (Teacher

Wai), as jai rai (mean in Thai).

The idea of embroidering a book

cover is not new but an ancient art.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the

Europeans embroidered a Bible cover

in cotton, silk and even gold threads.

Needlework on a book is luxurious

and the painstaking process of

thought and work that must go into

both aspects of embroidering

and bookbinding.

In 2011, Penguin Books (USA)

commissioned artist Jillian Tamaki,

an illustrator and comic artist

(who also has a strong passion for

embroidery), to create embroidered

covers for three classic novels –

“Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell,

“The Secret Garden” by Frances

Hodson Burnett and “Emma” by

Jane Austen. Tamaki completed the

three covers by hand over a twomonth

period before her original

copies were reproduced through an

innovative printing technique for

final covers.

The stitch-like book covers

are spellbinding – but each book

does not give a sense of originality

as Butterfly Book does. Their

threaded series, on the other

hand, offer original embroidery

and needlework on every cover.

“We print 500 copies, and each

has its unique cover. Not one of

those 500 covers are the same

since they’re stitched by different

embroiderers,” said Makut,

illustrating his point as he showed

five different stitched covers.

“Before the project started,

the local embroiderers had no idea

about the story of the book they’re

working on, because they don’t read

a novel or anything [else]. Once

the project carried on, they went

through the story to find out who

Teacher Wai is. They then discussed

the character and passed along the

stories around their circle in their

embroidery community,” related

Makut, who has dedicated himself

to promoting reading among Thais

for decades.

Already, Kru Wai Jai Rai with its

stitched cover got more than 300

copies sold at the pre-order period.

Butterfly Book plans to exhibit all

500 of the embroidered covers at

the National Library of Thailand

before the delivery of the luxurious

edition to the bibliophiles.

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