History of the Ceramic Industry in Lampang Thailand

Lampang is one of the most important ceramic producers in the north of Thailand. Reasons to support this are:

  1. It is the main source of white clay in Thailand, with 93% of all white clay coming from Lampang. This white clay is highly resistant to heat thus producing quality products.
  2. The rate of payment for labor force in Lampang is cheaper than those of larger cities.
  3. Lampang is situated in a good location. It is the bypass to many nearby provinces and has all forms of transportation.

Ceramics in Lampang was originated when a villager from the Jae-Hom district found a whetstone which was made from Kaolinite (white clay) . After that, three Chinese, Mr. Chin Simyu, Mr. Ue Siayu, and Mr Kwok Sewkim from Tai-Pu city (famous for producing dinnerware in China) tried to search for sources of white clay with financial support from Mr. Tawee Polcharone. Finally, in 1947, they found the sources at Pang-Ka village, Amphur Jae-Hom, Lampang between the 26th and 27th Kilometer of Lampang - Jachom Road.

In 1967-1969 , there was a change in economics and demand structure. The Department of Science began to pay more attention to ceramics from Lampang. They held several events such as ceramic competitions, more support for small scale factories, and seminars on ceramics to motivate the owner to go abroad to gain more experience. With a strong relationship, the factory owners of Lampang formed a chamber under the leadership of Mr. Chan Limphaiboon in 1974 . At that time, there were 18 ceramic factories.

During 1975-1985, there was an increase in technology in the ceramics industry. This produced better quality, more colorful and cost-saving strategies.
Lampang ceramics became better known for its blue and white products in international markets.

During 1985 - 1994 , the ceramic industry was able to provide more variety in model, texture of stoneware, earthenware, porcelain, and production techniques. The industry has become highly competitive. The Ceramics Group of Lampang searched for factors that could reduce cost of production and increase productivity, therefore, new types of kilns were introduced at local use such as the shuttle kiln, the tunnel kiln, and the fiber insulator kiln.

Today, the ceramic factories in Lampang range from small to large scale. There are about 30 factories for medium to large scale numbering from 100-600 in labor force per factory. There are about 120 factories for small scale with 10-80 in labor force per factory. This generates a cash flow into the province of at least 2,000 million baht per year.

Some distinguishing features in producing Lampang ceramics are:

  • Conservative style, i.e. : using the jigger method of production and dragon kilns, which still use wood as an energy source; they produce 5" - 7" local bowls along with electric insulators and Art Ceramics of which only 7-8 factories remain in operation today.
  • LPG kiln: to compete with products from abroad, the LPG kiln is used to produce gift sets, home decoration sets, dinnerware, ceramic fences, and handmade products.
  • High technology products: using the tunnel kiln, Lampang was able to expand production capacity to serve the market demand of Europe and America. These products are tableware, large flower pots, and vases.

Though Lampang has been producing white clay ceramics for only 50 years, it is one of the most important exports of Thailand and will continue to enhance income and occupational growth of the local people in the future.