Virtual, Thailand | From Seed to Cloth: A Mindful Approach to Craft

When making craft, time slips away while you’re creating, it becomes a meditative work. The click, clack, click, and clack of the loom becomes a repetitive ritual, much like a mantra.

The hum of the sewing machine or even unpicking stitches requires concentration on something tangible instead of our thoughts.

Deadline Extended – Spaces still available! Apply by May 2, 2021


Global Summer Studios
  • Virtual Course
Summer 2021

Course Dates: Jun 7, 2021 — Jun 25, 2021

Open to RISD students, Brown University students, non-RISD students

2.5 GPA required. Non-RISD participants see eligibility requirements below.

  • Artisanal Textiles
  • Sustainability
  • Craft
  • Mindfulness
Academic Credits
  • Apparel Design
Course Numbers
  • APPAR-1510-01

$500 non-refundable deposit + $2500 balance payment within 15 days or by April 16

Thailand: From Seed to Cloth: The Mindful Approach to Craft in Thailand
Sakon Nakhon, Thailand
Thailand: From Seed to Cloth: The Mindful Approach to Craft in Thailand

About this Virtual Studio

Video Snapshot

Course Description

This 3-week, 3-credit remotely taught summer course will explore the mindfulness approach to craft and creating (hand weaving, Tai Lue textile, indigo process, and natural color dye) throughout this course and working alongside, artisans and communities, and studying their cultures with an in-depth approach to mindfulness practice along the way.

Women in groups undertake the creation of textiles and garments in Thailand. In some villages, all the skilled processes, from growing seeds to finished dyed cloth, are practiced in a time-consuming cycle. In others, a particular method of technique is the key to their livelihood. The summer course will demonstrate hand-making traditions, stages of production, and aesthetics of design in the South East Asian region.

Course Objectives

  • Sustain the expression of human diversity and well-being through craft practice and cultural understanding.
  • Learn from the local knowledge of the environment to think about the sustainability of natural resources and health and safety practices.
  • Hear the voice of Southeast Asian ethnic minorities regarding regional socio-economic agendas
  • Provide a contextual overview of the production of artisanal textiles in Thailand in specific relation to women.
  • Engender a greater understanding of the current skills gaps and labor shortages affecting the production of handmade textiles.
  • Demonstrate an ethical and respectful awareness while engaging in cultural research and design inspiration.
  • Investigate various forms and begin to analyze new sources.
  • Employ selective decision-making skills and knowledge of sustainability while making fabrics and yarns choices for designs.
  • Match craft skills with new product designs evolved within the communities in a culturally sensitive way.
  • Cultivate the mind (mindfulness) and to be the device for problem-solving in daily life.

Learning Outcomes + Assignments

Craft helps improved concentration skills.
Modern society involves so many distractions — television, advertising, cell phones, video games, and other demands on our time and attention. People are continually multi-tasking and spreading their attention dangerously thin.

Creating a work of art is a time-intensive process that requires a huge amount of focus and concentration. Learning to concentrate in this way is an important skill that is disappearing in the modern world. Practicing and refining this skill is a valuable technique applied to all other areas of life where the focus is required.

Craft develops problem-solving abilities.
There isn’t a manual for being an artist/ designer, and there isn’t a manual for being alive. Obstacles and challenges throughout life are inevitable. However, when we make creativity a habit, we continue to learn new, resourceful ways of solving problems in our artwork and life.

Craft helps connect with your community.
When we create, we connect to other people, and an instant sense of community is formed. Whether we’re exchanging ideas, providing feedback for our peers, or merely creating next to each other in silence, the sense of connection experienced as artists/designer is undeniable and deeply rewarding.

Craft helps understand yourself and the world.
Creativity is the route to authenticity. As we create, we plumb the depths of our being, accessing what we think and believe. The more we create, the more we discover and realize our habits, impulses, and desires. When we take the time and energy to develop our own ideas, we respect our inner nature and are better able to express ourselves to the world on a regular basis.

Faculty Infosession – Q+A

Background Information


Thailand art and craft are woven into the country's rich cultural heritage and is an inherent part of Thailand's history and national identity. With skills having been passed on for generations, Thailand's art and craft is an enduring reflection of the Thai people's attention to detail and creativity. The natural landscape lends itself to craft with an abundance of rattan, wicker, coconuts, and palm leaves ideal for making handcrafts while religious influences reflect dazzling gold, colored, and mirror artworks pay homage to Thailand's spectacular temples.

Traditional Thai art and craft range from paintings, weaving, silver wear, natural drying, ceramics, wood and stone carving, and much more, during your visit to Thailand you will notice much of Thailand's art and craft is contrast, with spectacular ancient gold-gilded temples surrounded by modern urban environments enhanced with traditional Thai paintings, sculptures and woven materials for a more authentic atmosphere.

Modern-day Thailand art and craft is a blend of ancient techniques and more contemporary methods that have seen that the art and craft industry thrive. With such a unique and beautiful style, handcrafted by locals whose skills have been learned generation over generation.


In Nan, this is an area with inherent natural beauty surrounded by forested mountains and vast rice fields. It is the forests that provide the communities with the source materials for their natural dyes. They work in tandem with the land and the forests, maintaining respect for the environments and the eco-culture. The methods and processes of dyeing and weaving have been passed down through the generations, and this ancestral wisdom is valued and celebrated. Their weaving looms, like their traditional homes, are made by highly skilled craftsmen from local timber. They continue to weave both for their consumption and commercial reasons.

The weavers, all women, produce intricate traditional patterns with immense patience and concentration on looms they have been using since childhood. The cloth produced has inherent qualities that possess ecological and spiritual properties that reflect their heritage. The sense of history and skill is visible through fabrics, which take weeks to weave, fabrics which leave a trace of the weaver with every thread.

NATURAL COLORS (indigo, and eco printing)

"The indigo bath is alive. When I'm in a good mood, it's quite easy to dye. But when I'm in a bad mood, dyeing always fails."

Weaving cotton clothes and dyeing indigo is an everyday activity for people in Sakon Nakhon. Once only a seasonal job for extra income, making indigo clothes has become a significant source of income for villagers, who produce indigo-dyed clothes and grow true indigo in a large plantation, for domestic use, and sale. The plant is a lifeline for the people and has become a treasure of Sakon Nakhon.

In Thai, Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) is called khram. The plant is widely grown along the Songkhram River that originates in Udon Thani then snakes through Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, and Bung Kan. So, the local know-how about indigo dye can be found along the waterway as well. Sakon Nakhon is famed for its local wisdom of indigo dye, which is handed down through generations. Many villages, now thrive on producing indigo clothes. Some villages develop their dyeing skills to meet the textile industry's demand.

The indigo bath is alive. It is the micro-organism that lives in the bath with the indigo. Created by the fermentation of ashes, herbs, and some sugar, the organic compound is a precursor to indigo dye and enables Sakon Nakhon's all natural cold-dyeing process to give it a long-lasting blue.

You will be learning the process from the beginning, planting the indigo seed, harvest the plants, soak and make an indigo bath. You will have the opportunity to work on Eco printing from natural ingredients to create a beautiful and colorful print.

More Info

Application + Registration

Course Dates: June 7 – June 25, 2021
Non-Refundable Deposit (Required at time of Application Submission): $500.00
Balance (After Non-Refundable Deposit): $2,500.00

In order to reserve a seat, a non-refundable deposit of $500 is required at the time of application submission. Students will have 15 days to submit the remaining course balance of $2,500.00. Students that fail to make full payment by their deadline will forfeit their $500 deposit and their seat in the course.

For RISD Students: Courses are not available via web registration. Students must complete an online application through this website.

Deadline Extended: Apply by May 2, 2021


All RISD students and other full degree schools/universities are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in Global Summer Studios. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course.

RISD Students

If your current cumulative GPA is 2.5 or above, you are eligible for registration. If your current cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, you must first contact the Registrar at to seek exception to this academic policy.

Non-RISD Participants

If you are a college student currently enrolled in another art/design college or institution around the world, or a professional practicing in the field, you are eligible for registration. We will collect a recommendation/support form from your institution/workplace.

In order to register for RISD Global summer studies, you are expected to have a high level of English (speech, writing, and comprehension) as all coursework and critique is delivered in English.

Attendance Policy

Global Summer Studios are three weeks long and take place in June/July, and you are required to attend all program activities scheduled during the course. RISD Global Summer Studios comply with RISD class attendance policy. In case of unexcused or multiple absences, you may be removed from the course, given a grade of “W" (withdrawal) or a grade of “F” (fail).

Cancellation Policy

In case a virtual Global Summer Studio does not reach full capacity, the course may be canceled after the last day of registration (May 2) and a full refund will be issued to enrolled students.

Withdrawal Policy

Requesting to withdraw from a RISD global learning program, including RISD Global Summer Studios, prior to the start of the course is highly discouraged and requires a formal process outlined in the RISD course withdrawal policy. It is not possible for a student to drop a RISD Global Summer Studios course via the standard Add/Drop process after it has commenced. In the case of unforeseen and extenuating circumstances (and only after students have spoken with the faculty lead and RISD Global for approval to withdraw from the program), students should be aware that no refund will be issued.

Apply to Global Summer Studios

For summer 2021, RISD Global is offering 4 creative and culturally immersive art and design courses, all taught virtually for 3 weeks between June 7 – 26.

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1:1 Advising Session

Have questions? The RISD Global team is available to meet for a 1:1 advising session. We can give you more information about your study options, help you figure out which program makes sense for you, and assist you with the application process.

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