Lampang is a charming city, with friendly people and Lanna architecture that is rich in history. Going there is relatively easy; it is only a two-hour drive from Chiang Mai. Lampang is also home to a wide range of craft people. Kad Kong Ta Street Market, which is also known as the Chinese market, for example, follows the Wang River and is a must visit.
One traditional two-story wooden home on that street has been renovated to give it a contemporary look. Inside is a cozy craft store, where you can meet Prasit “Chang” Tangmahasathitkun, the founder of Papacraft and an acclaimed translator who has received awards and gained national recognition.
“But I have many dreams,” Prasit said with humor. Running a craft gallery was one to which he clung to for over 30 years.
30 years ago, Prasit was an engineering student at Chiang Mai University, but he decided to drop out to live the way he wanted. He loves freedom, believing that challenges are waiting to be discovered. He loves to craft things, making products like journals from scraps of leather and bags from bamboo and palm leaves, which he used to sell to a souvenir shop in Chiang Mai. Two years later, his life was turned upside down when he had to help his brother run a real estate business in Uttaradit, and he was no longer able to regularly supply the souvenir shop. With a strong passion for craftwork, however, he still found time to create things, occasionally selling them on Nimmanhaemin Road or at Jing Jai Market in Chiang Mai. In 2018, he moved to his partner’s home in the Kad Kong Ta neighborhood of Lampang, where he was motivated to make his dream come true. There he set up a gallery to exhibit the works of Papacraft.
The timing was perfect, for his son Tonfon “Khwan” Tangmahasathitkun, who has a degree in industrial design, was able to help run the business, and in 2021, Prasit, his wife Kok and his son together established the Papacraft Café. Like father like son, they both love craftwork and can create a wide range of products. Papacraft’s products are mostly inspired by nature, such as flowers and dried leaves that they can find all around them.
“I like the movement of leaves swaying with the wind, how they float to the ground. I think the twirl and quirky shapes of dried leaves is elegant and expressive,” said Prasit. From these ideas came his first collection, which follows a concept of flowers and garlands. The first bracelet created under the Papacraft brand can be freely bent, as if reflecting the movement of a fallen leaf. It has no clip and can fit any wrist.
From these ideas came his first collection, which follows a concept of flowers and garlands. The first bracelet created under the Papacraft brand can be freely bent, as if reflecting the movement of a fallen leaf. It has no clip and can fit any wrist.
In addition to accessories, he also creates leather products, which he said he has been doing ever since he fell in love with leathercrafting early during his development as a craftsman. Products include journals, bags, belts and toys that are inspired by local games. One of his favorite works is the “woven brass” collection he made with his son, which involves making bracelets and earrings from embroidering brass wire and leather. Later, they applied the techniques used in this collection to other works.
Prasit runs a project called “Gongcraft”, which brings craft artisans from different fields together to work and create products using mixed techniques. For example, a carpenter can work with a leatherworker or ceramic sculptor to create something new. The project helps artisans who are passionate about their work to connect with each other, helping give them inspiration to develop new ideas.