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Showcase of artisans’ handmade beauty

At the artisans showcase at The Linc Kuala Lumpur 13-14 March 2021

Artisans came out in full force to showcase the handmade beauty of their paintings, bags, accessories and decorative items at an exhibition held by The Artisans Haven at The Linc last weekend.

Visitors were attracted to the portraits drawn by hand and brush artist Sashtri Vivekenanda who loves using charcoal and soft pastels as his medium.

“They can just get their portraits painted for RM150 apiece; some said they are sending their pictures to Sashtri,’’ said curator and co-founder Jade Lee, who was promoting the handmade exhibits.

According to Sashtri, most of his clients love his black and white drawings and paintings.

“They find it realistic; they like the soft strokes, facial expressions and how I make their eyes look alive,’’ said Sashtri.

Sashtri is specialised in drawing tigers, having drawn his first tiger when he was just eight years old.

In 2011, he was the grand prize winner of the ‘Expressions of the Malayan Tiger’ art competition held by Maybank.

Having researched on tigers from the time they were cubs to adulthood, Sashtri’s fascination with this beautiful and powerful beast leads him to his next plan – to be a versatile tiger artist.

He is also well-known for his wall paintings and drawings on, among other things, packaging and logos.

A pair of sky blue earrings from infinitylove handcrafted, also attracted the attention of visitors; other accessories crafted by founder Christine Ng, includes hair clips, brooches and bag pendants with a glass ball that can be filled with essential oils.

“They are quite popular,’’ said Christine. “I make a few of each colour, using different printed cloth material; I will not repeat the same design when it is sold out unless there is a special request.’’

Christine had started by making hair clips for her daughter, and later, a few earrings and bag pendants as birthday gifts.

The smiles on her friends’ faces made her very happy, and that began her four-year journey into these handmade beauties.

Finely crafted wire art pieces by Beautiful Gate Foundation for the disabled, also caught the interest of visitors.

Admired as the unique handwork by disabled people, there is a selection of 15 shapes in the form of key chains, book marks and other decorative items.

Members at the Petaling Jaya SS2 branch have been crafting these popular items for the past ten years.

From Sarawak with love

Sarawak culture comes alive at Artsy Tailor Craft, in the form of colourful bead head gear, Borneo batik neckties, batik mini purses, rattan tote bags, ‘Kabo’ bead necklaces, bead fringe earrings and mini beaded collar necklaces for toys.

In Sarawak, the ‘Kabo’ is used by the Orang Ulu community, namely, the Kelabit, Kayan and Kenyah people who live in the highlands.

The original “Kabo’ comes in bright cili red, and is used as a centerpiece for men’s necklaces.

Favourite items at Artsy Tailor Craft are the rattan tote bags, batik mini purses and batik neckties, said founder Kau Libut.

She supplies batik neckties to Borneo Street in Kuala Lumpur, which is a one-stop center for Borneo products.

From her home base in Miri, Sarawak, Kau Libut has turned her hobbies into a small business; over the past six years, she has come up with a prolific selection of beads and crafts designed on customers’ requests.

Kau Libut is active in the exhibition scene and also conducts workshops in beading and crafting of earrings.

Artsy Tailor Craft last took part in the National Craft Day from 26 February till 9 March 2020.

Also from Miri, Sarawak, comes the CaroPaya rose bag, handmade by Carol Jok and her daughter Marslyn.

Besides the excellent workmanship, Carol tries to make every bag unique, with a style that suits the age and personality of the client as well as the events or functions that she is using it for.

Many fall in love with the rose bag when they see it posted, said Carol who has been making these bags for two years.

Available in single or mixed colours, the rose bag shows off traditional talent while preserving the knowledge of this craft.

A rose bag with mixed colours takes three days to make, while the one with a single colour takes two days.

“I still remember, at the age of 10, I saw my Mom working on the rose pattern,’’ said Carol who had gone on to develop the patterns for the rose bag.

Tradition with a new twist on PVC – that’s the current theme for Penan bags woven by Limbang weavers, Freda and Christina King.

New colours with traditional motifs on PVC give a refreshed look to these Penan bags from Limbang, while from Baram, new designs come with bamboo handles, which are very popular now.

“The Limbang and Baram weavers have different weaving styles, so we have the best of both worlds,’’ said Helping Hands Penan founder Violette Tan.

Penan bags are on sale this weekend at Starling Mall, Petaling Jaya.

Helping Hands Penan is a non-profit organization that organizes the Penan weavers and channels the sales proceeds to run programs such as education sponsorship, to help the Penan community.

Handmade specialists

Cheongsams are evergreen and much valued for the amount of handwork involved.

New designs are up at Emerald Brilliant where founder and chief designer, Kong Yoon Yoon, has a team that specialises in every step of making a cheongsam.

Comprising at least six steps, the specialists’ work starts with taking down the measurements, drawing the pattern, ironing  the cloth, cutting, sewing and putting on the buttons.

“It is custom-made, in the design and colours that we recommend to the clients; it may not be based on what they like but what enhances their appearance,’’ said Yoon Yoon who has been making cheongsams for 50 years.

Yoon Yoon personally recommends a beautiful design to the clients and takes down their measurements.

Many clients from the US, Canada, Japan and Australia would just fly over to order cheongsams from her, while in Malaysia, she has repeat customers as well as new ones online.

Known for its detailed workmanship, Emerald Briliant uses materials ranging from Thai or Kua silk to Chinese brocade and linen, while patterns may range from traditional to mermaid and cut-in styles, complimented with embroidery or beads.

 Handmade treasures

Handmade leather wallets from Bear Minima had also caught the attention of visitor Daphne Kwong who intends to buy a wallet for herself.

“I like personalized, hand-stitched artisans’ work,’’ said Daphne. “I can also emboss my name on it.’’

Bear Minima founder Juan Mahussin uses cow vegetable tan leather for his wallets, which clients say are modern and minimalistic in design; made of real leather, they age well and get softer over time.

“I chose leather, which I like, as my medium; while there are a lot of traditional designs, I decided to do a modern, minimalistic design,’’ said Juan.

A designer who used to work in a furniture manufacturing company, Juan had taken five months to learn how to make these leather wallets that cost between RM100 to RM300 each.

An upcoming design by Juan will be a card holder that incorporates a coin holder.

Daphne also liked the bags handmade from recycled kimonos by Juan’s wife, Linda Azmi, under her brand Benang Sari.

“The recycled kimono bags are environment friendly,’’ said Daphne. “I will buy them as gifts for family and friends.’’

Aroma Stone from Art Kraft, that sets off a fragrance when essential oils are rubbed onto it, can be designed as hanging pendants, home decorations, car vent fresheners or as materials for children’s paintings.

“My work is very popular with customers who like unique and handmade products,’’ said Art Kraft founder Ada Koh. “I feel happy when they like my products and I want to help them enjoy their surroundings with nice scents.’’

Made from natural aroma powder mixed with clear water,  Aroma Stone products can be customized by adding names, pictures of constellations or favourite colours to match the scent that customers like.

After 5-10 drops of essential oils are applied onto the Aroma Stone, the soaked oil will evaporate, thus creating a fragrant atmosphere.

Embroidered cloth bags and toilet roll holders made by members of S.T.A.R. (Special Needs Training and Resources) Youth, are treasured for their simple beauty and the special efforts by the differently abled.

Dainty and precise, their skill at embroidery not only helps them earn some money but also trains them in terms of accuracy, fine motor skills and patience.

“It helps in brain function, as they need to be able to manoeuvre thread and needle precisely to create a pattern,’’ said Tracey Chan, co-ordinator of S.T.A.R. Youth that comes under Community Excel Services.

Handmade collectibles

The koi fish collection at BinaSinar at THE LINC KL, attracts buyers who love the vibrant colours and fluid forms.

Apart from being associated with good luck and abundance, the koi fish is also seen as a symbol of success and determination.

Paintings of local flowers such as the frangipani, hibiscus and bougainvillea also appeal to patrons especially from the neighbouring Embassy Row.

The yukata collection, featuring a pullover or cardigan Japanese style, is another favourite at the BinaSinar concept store for casual and fun wear.

“The yukata is seen as a type of fashion wear, and loved for its style and simplicity,’’ said founder Nick Tan.

In Japan, a yukata is an unlined summer kimono, worn in casual settings such as in summer festivals; traditionally indigo and white in colour, the modern yukata comes in multi-coloured designs.

Autistic artist Kirtanraw does not only draw but his achievement is also in being able to sell his paintings.

With his famous ‘swirl’ effect, Kirtanraw brings out the simple beauty and sense of continuity of life around us.

His paintings of nature and animals reflect the liveliness within him, and reminds us to be happy with simple joys.

A loyal supporter is Hana Sakina Izham.

“He has his own identity and I love his vibrant colours,’’ said Hana who has an 11-year-old autistic son, Umar Sham.

She appreciates that Kirtanraw’s father and manager, Subramaniam Bandiloo, brings the paintings all the way to Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, from his art gallery in Sungei Petani, Kedah.

“Managing an autistic child, like my son who has limited speech, is not easy and I am interested in how Subramaniam found and nurtured Kirtanraw’s skill,’’ said Hana.

During this weekend, Kirtanraw’s new collections are up for our support at Starling Mall, Petaling Jaya.

Under the holistic approach at Stonedale Crystals, customers are encouraged to choose crystals that resonate with them.

A crystal is not just a decorative item; owning one becomes more meaningful due to its holistic properties; its function is to promote overall health, not just based on mental well-being but also physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects.

Customers find that Stonedale Crystals have strong vibrations and make them feel happy.

“We take time and effort to cleanse and charge the crystals before displaying them,’’ said founder Wendy Siew. “We were not aware, at first, that charging them made such a big difference until we had some feedback from highly sensitive customers.’’

Crystals emit positive, energizing and calming vibrations that help to revitalize the body and gain peace of mind; they are charged under direct sun or moonlight, which will penetrate the crystals and fill the body with positive energy.

The list goes on … as we support original Malaysian designs, we bring up a vibrant artisan sector that will not only further their craft but also sustain jobs and incomes.

By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Storyteller, The Artisans Haven


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