Creativity with Wood in Thailand


Intricate Designs

Intricate Designs

This past January my husband and I went on a trip to Thailand. What an experience we had.  We saw much that I could write about, but I am going to limit this article to telling you about a tour we took of a teak furniture company.

I had no idea what to expect and I wasn’t particularly interested in going on this tour. I was happily surprised. The furniture company was set up with a show room, an outdoor patio, a paper making area, a wood working area where the workers made the furniture, and a gift shop. Tourists were allowed to go through all areas.

Carving an Elephant

Carving an Elephant

I have seen some intricate wood carvings but have never really been that impressed with them. I assumed the carvings were done by machines. I suppose some were. But the furniture and carvings I saw in Thailand were being created right in front of me with very simple hand tools.

One man sat on the floor carving an elephant from a huge piece of wood. A woman was carving designs in cabinet doors. Another worker sat on the floor transferring a drawing on a very large slab of teak. He traced a drawing over graphite paper. Further down the same slab of wood another worker carved out parts of the drawing. The flat slab of wood transformed into a beautiful three dimensional sculpture.

Life size wooden elephants inhabited the patio. There were males, females and babies. The carvings were unbelievable. I wanted one.

thaiwood2The showroom was filled with giant pieces of dining room sets, spirit houses, Buddha statues, benches, cabinets, rocking chairs, elephants and more.  I sat in some of the pieces. They were comfortable but too large for the normal sized home. This furniture would need a palatial place to reside.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the beautiful wood creations made by the Thai people. My husband even bought a set of wood carving tools.  The tools are made of teak with metal blades.  He may try his hand at making some wood creations of his own.  I might even give it a try.

Wooden Elephants

Wooden Elephants

This entry was posted in Creativity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Creativity with Wood in Thailand

  1. Dawn says:

    It is so fascinating to see what artists can do with a large slab of teak. The creativity! Not to mention the talent. Thanks for showing this from your travels, Terry.

  2. Band Saw Blades says:

    I can not even imagine how much time that would have taken to do. I think in America we’ve somewhat lost the appreciate for handmade art. That truly is amazing.

  3. Today I am praying for the people in Thailand. It is such a beautiful country with wonderful people. I hate seeing the country going through such turmoil.

  4. Donna says:

    Hi Terry,

    I just purchased one of the carved elephants shown in your photo above. It may very well have been carved at the furniture store that you toured as it looks identical to the ones that you saw. I purchased it from an Asian antique store locally. I fell in love with it the moment I set eyes on it!!

    Thanks for your photo and information. Donna

  5. Donna: That is so cool! I loved those elephants. They are amazing.

  6. Donna says:


    I know you were in Thailand when you saw the artisans carving elephants and I’m assuming that mine was carved in Thailand as well. I do notice one difference between the one that I just purchased and the ones I see in the photo above and that is: the ones above appear to be standing on “carved wooden bases”. Is that right? The one I’ve purchased (adopted) has all four feet free of a base which gives the figure a very realistic and animated feeling because the feet are carved in a way that makes the elephant ‘baby’ look like he’s about to walk off. The work is sensational. And one reason I bought it, beyond the aesthetics of the piece, is that I feel that this extraordinary carving will be come a lost art, because of the skill necessary and the resources necessary (large teak wood) to accomplish such a dramatic piece of art will not be available in our coming lifetime. Can you tell me in what part of Thailand that you saw these elephants? I’ve been trying to do a bit of research and your was the only blog/website that mentioned this very creative work. Thx Terry!

Comments are closed.