“My name is Aphisit Jromsri and my nickname is Net. I was born on the 8th of November 1982 in Phitsanuloke, a province located in the north of Bangkok. Phitsanuloke is my mother’s hometown. My father came from Samud Prakarn, a province east of Bangkok. I only have one older sister. My parents met and married while they worked in a clothing factory in Samud Prakarn. Sadly, my father passed away a few years later. I was then only 3 years old.
“On my father’s death, my mother resigned from her job and moved back to Phitsanuloke. She earned a living with some grocery business. I lived and studied in Phitsanuloke until I was 15 years old. Then I moved to Samud Prakarn. There I stayed with my grandmother and pursued my studies. I graduated from high school but my grandmother couldn’t support me studying further.
“I had to start working with my uncle. He was a government electricity officer but was also running a small business on the side. He employed a few people to handle the work for him. I worked with them for two years. During that time, I enrolled in the Twilight Program of a vocational college. I selected art and enjoyed studying painting very much.
“My life drastically changed when I met my wife in 2002. I was then 20 years old. I fell in love with her and with the art of leather silhouettes carving. Leather silhouettes carving is the legacy that her family passed down and preserved from generation to generation. At that time my wife was coloring the leather. We met about a year before getting married. Our son was born a year later and our daughter five years later.
“I studied leather carving with my father in law. It took me a full two years to master the techniques. It might have taken me much longer time if I hadn’t studied with him. He was so strict and really paid attention to every single little detail. It really stressed me to live up to his high quality standards. But I knew that he has an enormous respect for his art. This has been his family legacy for generations. So, I was so proud once he finally approved of my carving skills. It’s time for me to prove that his art is in good hands and I won’t disappoint him.
“The other rewarding part of having studied with him is that this experience bonded us. I never have had any life experience with my father. I can’t even remember anything about him. Deeply inside I think that I miss him a lot. But my father in law has been like a father to me. Also I think he thinks of me as the son he never had. We are close now.
“My wife and her three sisters are all involved in the art of leather carving. They take care of the coloring as well as other processes but not of the carving. Women can carve if they want to, but it is not the custom. Many parents don’t teach carving to their daughters. It might have to do with the detailing and numerous carving steps. It might also be the old custom that men should handle such hard job for their women. Whatever the reason, not many women carve.
“I know that carving leather silhouettes is my vocation. I love it and can’t see myself doing anything else. This art taught me that you can achieve anything when you do things with true love. Not only I enjoy this art but it also has fed me and my family. It also allows me to spend time with my son and daughter.
“My children grow up in this leather silhouettes environment. My son seems to particularly like it. I let him participate when he wants to. We would be very happy if he wants to take over and continue the tradition. There are few artisans left who carve nowadays. If the younger generation doesn’t want to take up the torch, this art will surely die out with my generation.
“I had the chance to participate in primitive handicraft exhibitions a few times. I even got an award. I was glad to realize that people seemed to admire my work. This reward was motivating. It also showed me that when you do what you love to do, you will do it well and people will notice it. It’s a message I’d like to pass on to my son and his generation.”
Browse Aphisit’s leather silhouettes.
* * *
Images and text by EZISTOCK © Ezistock Co., Ltd., 2012 – All Rights Reserved.
* * *
If you enjoyed reading this article, share it via the Share button located below.