"I often donate my earnings - it makes me happy and gratified to be able to do so."
The artistry of Wittaya has been featured in Access magazine.
"Sawasdee krab. My name is 'Wittaya,' although my full name is Pongwittaya Panthakul. In Thailand, when Pong precedes a name, it refers to family lineage. I'm the first son of six children - my father is Chinese and my mother is Thai. No one in my family works together, we all have different careers, and yet we always meet because we live in the same province.
"I didn't go to university so instead, after high school, I began to work at one of the biggest arts and crafts showrooms. We crafted a variety of items, especially wood carvings and silver wares. At first I was only allowed to sell the goods, but as I gained more experience I was trusted with more responsibilities. Eventually I learned to craft a variety of items, and through hard work and dedication I soon became an expert.
"In 1984, I decided to set up my own workshop and work for myself. At first it was difficult because I didn't have a place in which to exhibit my products. Nevertheless, I was enjoying my work because I had gained the freedom to work as I wanted and with my own ideas. I have a very prolific imagination and I make a variety of wood products including, tables, cupboards, beds and many more.
"My work is intended to showcase our local customs and our Thai traditions. My reasons for working have to do more with social aspects – I love to have many friends!
"Now, after much hard work I have my own workshop and I have been able to offer jobs to a few people in my community. Together we work like one big family and as such we help each other during difficult times.
"I haven't achieved the renown I'd like for my products yet. I do most of the work and I make all the new designs. I'd like to craft a great variety of items, big and small, but at times it's difficult to get good quality woods. On the other hand, we must be mindful of not exploiting my country's forests. Anyway, I feel happy with my work and people around me.
"100% of my work is handmade, so you'll maybe notice some differences in the small details. However, they are all of good quality, useful and beautiful.
"I often donate my earnings - it makes me happy and gratified to be able to do so. I especially donate money for the poor and sick and in some cases I've contributed with a coffin in case of a death.
"There are still some types of wood carving works that I have yet to master. So, if a client desires a specific type of wood product and I cannot make it, I will ask those who specialize in that field to teach and supervise me."