Master Makers is a series of posts focused on brilliant makers with the ability to teach others how to do what they do.
When you hear about the learning curve of popular makers, their stories start to play out more like a western than a blueprint for success. Cowboy creators taking rules into their own hands. Gutting it out until they figure it out. Faking it until they make it. And for all those crafting cowboys, one could consider Ratinath "Nook" Chantawilaskul the sheriff.
Nook is a graduate of Bangkok's prestigious Chulalongkorn University where she cut her teeth learning to create shoes. Having formally mastered one of the more difficult leather designs you could undertake, footwear quickly became Nooks calling card and creative outlet (your eyes aren't deceiving you—that's a birdcage heel.)
After university, Nook started off on the right foot by designing for Bangkok's famous shoe company Maneesilp, but footwear was just one of the weapons Nook's arsenal. Her entrepreneurial spirit landed her a floor above jewelry-workshop Smitheries, and allowed this master crafter the chance to show others they can do anything with leather.
Nook's R Studio offers workshops with a "what do you feel like making" attitude. Her workshops range from one-day (where you'll learn how to craft simpler project like card cases and wallets) to multi-day (where she'll take you to Bangkok markets to pick out your leather…and let me tell you…the city has EVERY type of leather you could want.)
Once you have leather in hand, Nook can teach you to make almost anything—and lets you take as much studio time as you need to complete your project. Her ability to be more flexible with students who want to start with out-of-the-box projects is one of the advantages of being formally trained in everything under the sun. While her students favorite projects are typically be bags and camera cases, shoes are always a welcome.
When she's not teaching the nuances of leather, Nook's developing her own designs that she has plans to sell in boutiques world-wide. Her luxury pieces are a brilliant combination of being amazingly detailed while remaining aesthetically minimal all at the same time—a nuance few could envision on their own. It's just one of the many reasons why she considers her formal teaching and training a true benefit to her students and her craft…the ability to look at a project in a way that's been passed down through generations.
If you're ever in Bangkok, or would like to commission some her work for your boutique, you can contact Nook on her Facebook.
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