Monday, April 25, 2011

Cafe Connect in Chiang Rai

Right across the street from the old Bus Station in Chiang Rai sits a cute little coffee shop and restaurant called Cafe Connect. They have an extensive menu consisting of just about any western dish you'd like - and lots of local favorites. It's helpful to know they also have a special vegetarian menu if you're not so much into the meaty things. Cafe Connect also has large hot, cold and iced drink menu along with lots of sweets from their homemade bakery.

We stopped in to drop off our new display for our bird necklaces and got some lunch. The food was great, the atmosphere is great for hanging out with friends, taking a breather from the traveling or just enjoying a nice iced coffee.

170-171 Moo 18, Prasobsuk Road, Tambon Wiang, Amphur Muang
Chiang Rai, Thailand 57000

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's Brewing at Doi Chaang?

If you haven't been to Doi Chaang Coffee yet in Chiang Rai, it's a must-stop for any tourist - or local for that matter! We stopped by the other day to drop off some new Jellyrolls and had a cup of coffee and some breakfast and it so tasty. The shop is also selling civet coffee by the bag which would make the ultimate souvenir (besides an IA bag ;) for your coffee-loving friends back home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy Son Kran!

Son Kran officially starts today (even though we've been seeing water throwing since Sunday)! We got this awesome card from the children Baan Sarn Rak Orphanage in Chiang Rai and had to share it. The children make some fabulous batik greeting cards and postcards we sell.

From all of us at Izara Arts we want to wish you and yours a very safe and happy Son Kran!

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Tea Shop in Town

Saturday night we attended the grand opening of the Prataap Jai, a new tea house in Chiang Rai. The art gallery, yoga studio, education center and tea house was created to connect local Thai culture and all the Western cultures which are found in Chiang Rai. Kudos to our past volunteer Amber and her business partner Cady for opening such a wonderful space. We're excited to see such a beautiful place open where the local and foreign community can come together and share common experiences. If you haven't stopped by, it's definitely a must!

Prataap Jai
25/9 (Sankhongnoi Road) M. 15 T. Robwiang, Amphoe Muang
Chiang Rai, Thailand 57000

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Wallets in the Works!

We recently headed out to Ya Fu, a Lahu village about 35 minutes outside of Chiang Rai. Izara Arts started working with this village about two years ago after a brief visit and finding these great little wallets (in various sizes) among some of their other handicrafts. We worked with them to get the colors right and since then the product has taken off! We have introduced quite a few other organizations including Tammachat Natural Textiles and the Textile Museum of Canada.

We've been carrying our two current colors for a while now and are looking to update the options. Through the help of Paul Hancock, Director of Khom Loy Development Foundation, we picked out some new colors including a lime green/brown/tan combo and a blue/teal/yellow combo (pictured right) and ordered a total of 45 zippered wallets. The ladies agreed to drop them to our office in two weeks time, so we're looking forward to seeing the new products and increasing sales for this Lahu village.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chiang Rai Fair Trade Store Updated!

Have you stopped by the Thai Tribal Crafts (TTC) Fair Trade Shop in Chiang Rai lately? If not, you'd better plan a visit. Harry Wathittayakul, Managing Director of TTC Fair Trade store in Chiang Rai has overhauled the store with a new look, tons of new products and a great new vibe. 

The store, which is open Monday thru Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., carries loads of local handmade products from place mats to yoga mat bags, lunch bags to purses, keychains to jewelry. The store has it all and is a one-stop shop for the best souvenirs the area has to offer. You'll find a nice selection of Izara Arts products as well. The Fair Trade store is located near the new clock tower next door to the popular new coffee shop, The Hub.

528/8 Prakarn Rd.
Tambon Wiang, Mueng District, Chiang Rai Province, 57000

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Art Development Workshop

Last month Izara Arts was invited to lead an art workshop at The Build Project, a non-profit organization based in Mae Sot, Thailand. The Build Project works with young people from Burma to provide training and teach technology and vocation skills, along with Thai and English languages. The workshop, which consisted of 11 students, was held to encourage the students to think outside the box. In a largely conformist society, this is traditionally frowned upon. Izara Arts was invited to break the tradition and get the students creating. The students had also just finished two days of academic tests, so it was a welcome break from all the hard work. Andrea Fitzgerald, Executive Director, wanted them to relax a bit before they moved into their new premises the next day.

Patricia Solar, Director of Izara Arts, began the workshop with a conversation about the difference between art and crafts. Explaining what a Fair Trade Organization, like Izara Arts, does versus what an art museum might do. She and the students discussed self-expression, symbolism and color. 

Then, Patricia and Ashley, an IA volunteer, poured out bags full of "art items" and asked the students to create something! The art items consisted of anything from Q-tips to string and fabric scraps, screws to wire, Popsicle sticks to wine corks - things one may not normally see as art. It was pretty amazing seeing the young minds go to work.

The students worked at their projects for about an hour. Ashley talked to the students about all the different kinds of art that emerged from the creations: architecture, fashion, painting, sculpting, drawing....forms of art the students probably never thought they were capable of, but executed (and some, quite well!). 

After discussing all of the creations, almost all of the students agreed that creating their art made them happy and relaxed them...exactly the outcome IA had hoped for. The students felt comfortable with the idea of art, creating it and enjoying it. I think you could say our job here is done. For now.