Mengrai Kilns is one of earliest ceramics factories established in Chiang Mai some 40 years ago. It was the combined effort of Dr. Srisukri, a Thai forensics specialist, Donald Gibson the British Consul, and Alex Walker an engineer with a deep interest in ceramics. They all met while working in Suan Dok Hospital and opened their factory in Ton Pao village in San Kamphaeng in 1973 when the area was nothing by rice paddies with water buffalos wandering about. Dr. Srisukri’s daughter, Duangkamol, has since taken over the business. A micro-biologist by training, her science background has given her a very active role in the methods behind production. Employing approximately 30 workers, one particular potter has been with the factory since it opened. Duangkamol asserts that the factory’s uniqueness is in their glaze, which are an awe-inspiring palette of jeweled-hues including greens, blues, reds and purples, all created using traditional wood-ash methods developed in China some 2,000 years ago. Difficult to produce colors are a challenge for Mengrai, and while the factory still has the original wood-fired kilns that were used when they opened, they’ve modernised with the use of gas-powered kilns.
My absolute favorite glaze is the Kinyo, a virbant purple. Named after the Kinyo period in the Southern Sung Dynasty in Japan, this vibrant glaze has a dominantly purple hue and is accented by delicate bursts of lavender and blue. Duangkamol says that these colors are very difficult to achieve with consistency and placement in the kiln will affect each piece differently when fired.
79/2 Samlarn Soi 6, Arak Road, Phrasingh, Muang Chiang Mai 50200; +6653 272 063