Since 1982, Y Development has been a "benevolent middle-man", marketing the products of local artisans for export to the West. A division of YMCA Chiangmai, the organization gives poor villages in Northern Thailand a way of earning a decent living. Firstly, Y Development provides training in handicrafts, either developing existing skills or teaching new crafts. The organization then markets their handicrafts locally and overseas, paying the artisans a fair price for their products. Today, Y Development works with over 30 groups, providing employment for more than 500 artisans. Profits from sales are used to finance the organization's rural development plan, which funds women's development, nutrition programmes, childcare, education and family health.
The groups working with Y development produce a variety of beautiful handicrafts, such as musical instruments, painted wooden boxes and celadon ceramics. First developed in China some 2 000 years ago, celadon is a type of high fired stoneware with a wood ash glaze. The celadon ceramics available through Y Development are made from stoneware clay (known as din dam, literally black earth) from a local Chiang Mai deposit and fired with a glaze of silt from the rice fields and wood ash from a particular local tree. When fired in an atmosphere of high carbon dioxide and low oxygen the natural iron content of the glaze and of the stoneware combine to produce the delicate shade of green, which is associated with good celadon. If there is too much oxygen in the kiln, shades from olive green to yellow or brown are produced.
Mr Suriyan and Mrs Umaporn run a group of artisans producing celadon wares for Y Development. The two set up the group in 1993 using their own savings as capital, and create their own original celadon designs using traditional firing techniques. There are eight artisans in the group, five women and three men, ranging between 21 and 45 years of age. They receive a good daily wage, with bonuses for especially difficult pieces. Each artisan also has access to health cover and emergency loans.