Thursday, December 01, 2016

Thai Village Handmade Crafts: Sewing for Sustainability

The other week when walking up the stairs at church, I noticed a colorful display of handicrafts.  Couldn't pass that up, now could I? In front of me were well-crafted handmade jewelry, bags & purses, an adorable stitched Noah's Ark, tin ornaments, and much more. The embroidery designs were characteristically Hmong, reminiscent of what I had seen in Thailand and Myanmar.

 A young woman standing nearby told me more about the non-profit organization based in Thailand and initiated by WELS Kingdom Workers. She shared with me a brochure which stated the mission: "Through the production of handicrafts, we seek to develop long-term relationships with artisans and encourage self-sufficiency by providing opportunities for vocational training, Christian education and higher education, made possible by not-for-profit sales." The organization also helps support community health and development, literacy and children's programs, and Bible education.

Bible Cover - Hmong design
Each item is designed and produced by local Thai artisans who earn living wages in fair-working conditions. The products are a team-effort, involving several people to create each piece. 100% of each donation is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution.
Over my years of traveling internationally, I have sought out cooperatives and other organizations that promote self-sustainability, empowering and training locals and promoting their unique crafts. A win-win for all!
Hmong Coin Purses
Nativity Set 

If you're looking for a unique gift or simply want to donate, check out the Thai Village website

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Artwork Stories: Male Fan Dancer, South Korea (Watercolor)

In anticipation of an art exhibition, I wrote a short story about each painting, as if written by the person in the painting. These are all real people, and the stories are based on experience, observation, and representative/factual information typical of someone from that region/profession. Some of these paintings are still available, so if you are interested in purchasing one, please contact me.

As a young boy, I loved to hear the stories told by my grandfather. Now I am a pansori singer. Accompanied by a drummer who strikes a rhythmic pattern on his buk, I sing narratives based on popular tales. Performing on this festive Chuseok harvest festival, my excitement is apparent in my dynamics and the way I manipulate the fan with crisp, fluid movements.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Few Leaves Left

Gone is the colorful foliage that was painted over the Wisconsin landscape. With a few exceptions, most are like the tree in the foreground - bare, save for a few scraggly dried-up leaves, clinging to the branches.  I'm thankful that no (s)now has yet fallen on my neck of the woods, but I know it's only a matter of time. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

By the Glow of the Supermoon

Although my photographic knowledge and camera equipment limited me from achieving any spectacular view of the moon, I was determined to produce at least some creative photos incorporating the moon. My current position by Lake Monona prevented me from capturing both the state capitol and moon in the same image. I would have to go elsewhere. 

My brother and I went to Madison's other lake - Lake Mendota. The small parking lot at the beginning of Picnic Point was full. I guess other people also took advantage of the mild temperatures to enjoy the full moon. Navigating by the bright moonlight, we walked along the path towards the tip of the peninsula, passing by other walkers and some young people who were enjoying campfires at several designated sites. Several women spoke excitedly in Chinese as they pointed to the city skyline, naming some of the city's landmark buildings.

The moon was quite high in the sky, but the bare branches added some creative framing for the night scene. Thanks, brother, for patiently putting up with my night photography!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

By the Glow of the Capitol

Spurred on by the relatively mild (for Wisconsin) November evening, my brother and I went for a night stroll. Our first destination was a small park across Lake Monona. 

From here, we had a great view of the beautiful state capitol and the small Madison skyline.  I was grateful for the ordinance (passed in 1966) that restricted the height of buildings within a mile of the capitol to be no higher than the base of the dome. Considering that the capitol at 284 feet (86 meters) is the tallest building in Madison and second tallest in Wisconsin, that's a vastly different skyline than in Seoul (tallest building is 1,820 ft - 555 meters)! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

My latest artwork: Naxi Woman with Blue Shawl

Naxi Woman with Blue Shawl

Lashi village, China

Color Pencil ©2016 Melissa Enderle

For eighty-three years I have trod through the narrow lanes of my small village - first to my parents’ home, and then to my azhu's family farm. I loved living with my nai nai; now I get to enjoy the laughter of my grandchildren as they run through the family courtyard or play with the kittens. Even though my son says I don’t have to go to the market to sell vegetables, I quite like it, for it gives me something to do and a chance to chat with the other women. With a basket securely fastened to my cape, I slowly make my way to the tiny market, chatting with friends along the way.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Roadside Shave

Gotta love the convenience of services in India. On the road to Agra (a few years ago), we spotted this man getting a shave.