We first met Eak, our silver jewellery partner in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Before we met him, we had met with several other possible partners and failed quite miserably to find the right person. Finding someone who would fit in with our ethos and someone we could see ourselves working with on a long term basis was harder than we thought! A lot to ask we knew but we were clear on what we wanted, so we stuck to our guns.
One Saturday afternoon, whilst stuffing my face with some obscure looking street food, I noticed a little place full of silver jewellery behind the food stall. As we went inside and saw the designs of the jewellery, we knew that ‘this’ might be it! We met with Eak - the owner, designer and maker. We talked with him and his wife about our designs/vision and in turn, he told us about how he worked, his background and inspiration.
We were blown away by his love and passion for jewellery making. The air was buzzing with excitement and the exchange of new ideas. Like us, Eak was also looking for an associate to grow with and a working life that didn’t jeopardise ‘living a life’. Eak comes from a family with a long history of silver craftsmanship. He knows that jewellery making is in his blood and as he gets older he feels that it is his duty to pass on his skills and knowledge to his little sister and the younger ones in his community.
Q1: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Eak: I wanted to be a doctor or a police officer, although I can never see myself as either of those now! But as a kid in Thailand back in those days, your family always wanted you to be a doctor or a police officer. That was just part of the culture. A doctor is well respected within the community; he saves lives and he makes good money. Similarly, a police officer is also respected within the community (and powerful), as well as saves lives and eventually makes good money.
Q2: What was the first thing you ever made?
Eak: Paper flowers in my craft lesson at school. So, it looks like I’m still making the same thing but with a different material!
Q3: How did you get into jewellery craft?
Eak: My family has been working with precious metal for as long as I can remember, over a hundred years or so, since my great grandparents’ day. Back then, it was more about silverware and belts. People’s status was often measured by the size and intricate detail of their silverware, in particular silver bowls.
I had always been around silver work and helped my family with many jobs, but I didn’t know that I liked it until I finished university. I guess I slowly absorbed the love for jewellery craft throughout my childhood. I remember learning to draw traditional Thai art from my grandfather, it was very difficult but I enjoyed the challenge.
Q4: How long have you been working with silver?
Eak: About 15 years. I had a gap year before I started university and then got into it more seriously after I graduated. After my parents retired, I stepped in full-time and have been loving it ever since!
Q5: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Eak: Without a doubt, the challenge! I love learning about new techniques and exciting designs. The more complex and unique the design the greater the satisfaction for me. As a craftsman and a designer, I live for that moment of bringing beautiful and mind boggling designs to life.
Q6: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Eak: I find traditional Thai art and Buddhism related designs to be very challenging. It’s not so much the physicality of the work that is challenging but more the state of mind that you have to be in to achieve the result you want. This type of work requires a lot of attention and detail. Ancient art is intricate and elegant, you have to put your soul into it.
But I would probably have to say that the most difficult aspect for me is working on the same design year in year out with no prospect of diversity. I try to seek out new projects to get stuck into, to keep things interesting and to broaden my horizons, that way it’s nice when I go back to working on existing designs.
Q7: If time and money permit, where in the world would you like to visit the most?
Eak: I love a good challenge, so the idea of trekking up a volcanic mountain somewhere exotic like South America is very interesting. But really, I would like to go everywhere and see everything! I would love to backpack all around the world, to learn and experience different cultures, languages and people. New experiences are a great source of inspiration to me.
Q8: If the world is about to end and you have been selected to travel to another planet to preserve mankind, what would be the one item you would take with you?
Eak: I think I would have to take my wife. [hahaha] Seriously, I don’t think I would make it on to the spaceship alive if I wasn’t taking her, never mind to another planet! Also, I would need my wife to ‘re-create’ mankind right? I definitely wouldn’t be able to reproduce by myself. [hahaha]
Q9: What professional or personal goal would you like to achieve by next year?
Eak: I would like to work on more challenging projects, ones that really push me. Also, I want to help my sister to become a great designer. She’s at university right now but I’m teaching her about a working life and design work as much as I can.
Q10: What message would you like to give our readers?
Eak: To always have hope and to do what makes you happy, without hurting anyone. It’s important for the soul to do what makes you happy.
Well, that’s Eak, our silver artisan partner. He’s the smallest guy with the biggest passion and the most contagious energy that we know! His claim to fame was that he once turned down the offer to work with Tiffany because they squeezed him too much on price. He didn’t feel that it was right, so he politely declined.
Eak works hard, but most days he still finds time to get out and explore his neighbourhood. He likes going for a morning walk or a ride around the city, checking out new stores and places to eat before he starts work. He feels that everyone needs that time to get out and away from their workplace to rejuvenate and to find inspiration.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Eak and please do leave us a comment, if you have any questions that you want to ask him. Otherwise, we are dying to know what would be your one item that you would take with you to preserve mankind?!
Why not check out our handmade silver collection to see some of Eak's creations.
Don't miss our next 'Meet The Maker' where we will be sharing with you an interview with our leather artisan partner. Just leave us your email address here and we'll make sure you won't miss anything. x
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