workin’ for the mâe bâan

it all started with pony bead geckos.


a12 and s10 were making them this summer and our mâe bâan (househelp) thought they were the best thing ever. after having a few months to figure out a way to make some money off of them she came to us with a proposition.  a proposition that we discussed in thai and only thai.

what i understood this proposition to be – meaning what i agreed to – was that a12 would make 100 geckos.  over a time of a month or two.  and maybe if she could come up with another design then she could make those, too.  but no hurry.  because i understood that our mâe bâan and her husband were going to sell them at their weekend stall.  you know, a few at a time.  maybe 20 or so on a good weekend.  and the deal was a12 would get 3 ฿ each.  and they would turn around and sell them for 5 ฿ each.  no get rich quick scheme, but when 200 ฿ a day is minimum wage, every little bit counts.

what our mâe bâan thought i understood – and what apparently i actually agreed to do – was this –

a thousand

if you’re thinking that looks like more than a hundred that’s because it is more than a hundred.  however, it is a multiple of a hundred.  so at least i got the 100 part right.  see, she thought i understood that they wanted 100 each of 10 designs.   by oct. 1.  we – i say we, but i mean michael – got this communication error straightened out on sept. 20.  and turns out a12 had no interest whatsoever in making any pony bead anything.  so, michael and i set to work.  making 100 of each of these.

dragonfly IMG_1104 IMG_1101 IMG_1100 IMG_1102

IMG_1103 IMG_1094 IMG_1096 IMG_1097 IMG_1099

go ahead, try to guess what each of them are.  100 points to whomever gets all 10 right.

we made them everywhere.  if we went to breakfast, we took all the beading stuff.  when michael went to the phillipines, he took all the beading stuff.  and when i went on a women’s retreat…  you guessed it, i took all the beading stuff.

and you’ll never guess what’s gonna happen to these babies.  they’re gonna be exported.  that’s right.  exported to foreign countries.  like indonesia, the phillipines, and the good ol’ u s of a.  that’s what they said.  some of these are headed to the states.  now who’s buying these?  i’ve got no idea.  but, at 3 ฿ each we managed to lose some money.  so we’ve closed up shop.  which i think makes them limited edition.  and hand crafted in thailand.  surely that makes them worth their weight in gold, right?

19 thoughts on “workin’ for the mâe bâan

  1. omg, now this puts a whole new slant on sweat shop labour… if i bought something like that, saying made in thailand… well that’s just not even remotely the origins I would have expected. this is too funny 😉


  2. Way to go. What a hilarious story. To think, I have an original by the “original” artist at my house. I think I see a dragon fly, a lizard, a puppy, a turtle, a cow (or bull), and a snake. The others must be Thai critters. Guess you have worked your fingers to the bone!

  3. Too funny! I’m going to keep my eye open for these around here. If I find one I’ll buy it and send it back to you. 😀

  4. Thanks for the update. It relieves some of our anxieties. We were certain than someone in the family was being held hostage and the rest were having to work forced labor.

  5. the sweat shop continues… seeing a pattern here, monica. at least a12 when to jump ship. they look cute, I’ll look for them in a store nearby.

  6. Here’s my guess:

    Dragonfly, cross, gekco, mouse, fish, panda, dog, turtle, snake, frog.

    Who knew that the goods I purchase in the markets were actually made by a slew of northern farangs? 😉

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