Recently in Thailand on June 21 to 23, the village of Ton Pao, located in Chiang Mai province, held a festival called “Amazing Lanna Saa Paper Festival” promoting local handmade paper production and handicrafts.
Our correspondent in Thailand, with camera in tow, braved the sweltering heat to attend the festival in search of handicrafts made with flowers. She found that flowers and greenery are by far the most popular decorative elements and motifs used in Saa paper crafts. “The Thais love to decorate everything with flowers, especially up here in Chiang Mai,” she says. “Whether the flowers be dyed, dried, or fresh.”
In the Chiang Mai area, one need not travel far to source flowers from local farms or nearby fields filled with wildflowers. It’s a place where throughout the year you’ll always find something in bloom. And, under no serious pressure to reproduce previous designs, as Saa papermaking is very much small-batch and artisanal, craftspeople have the flexibility to choose flowers based on whatever is currently available.
Evidently, fuengfa (bougainvillea), butterfly pea flowers, red roses, white roses, Mexican sunflowers, as well as fern and garlic are among what’s currently locally grown and readily available in the Chiang Mai area and Mae Hong Son region surrounding Ton Pao Village.
Handicrafts on display at store Thai Paper Crafts in Ton Pao Village during Amazing Lanna Saa Paper Festival
Wildflowers embedded into sheet of Saa paper. Saa means mulberry in Thai.
Saa paper totes with embedded fuengfa flowers (bag on left) and butterfly pea flowers (bag on right). Fuengfa is the Thai word for bougainvillea.
Rose petals embedded into book cover. Though plentiful in Chiang Mai, roses are not so ideal for papermaking since they take longer to dry than other flowers. If not fully dried, petals will ruin the paper.
Made with wildflowers readily available at time of paper production…and garlic.
Tiny baskets filled with tiny flowers that have been dyed and then dried.
Pressed fern leaf and assorted Saa paper stationery.
Saa paper shaped into flower.
Destined to serve as guestbook at a French wedding.
Saa paper flower set against tiny dried flowers and pressed greenery.
Assortment of dried flowers filling a wagon shaped from Saa paper twine.
Dried flowers sealed onto wooden coaster.
“Every bloom blossoms at the perfect moment.”