Wood carver making a successful business in Langkawi
Published on: Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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Langkawi: Wood carver Azizul Ahmad may not be a household name but his handiwork is much sought-after on this idyllic island.His decorative wood carvings can be seen gracing various upmarket hotels in Langkawi, as well as corporate offices here and elsewhere in the country.

The 45-year-old craftsman's workmanship has even attracted the attention of the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) which, recently, hosted a media visit to Azizul's workshop in Kelibang, near Kuah.

The visit was part of an MTIB media familiarisation trip from Sept 24 to 27 to introduce the media to the timber industry and update them on the progress and performance of various timber products that have contributed to the country's socio-economy.

Watching Azizul at work in his modest workshop situated next to his house, it is clear that he takes pride in his work and takes great pains to ensure his craft emerges from his hands without a single flaw.

His wood of choice for high-value products is teak.

"Only certain types of wood are suitable for making decorative wood carvings. For indoor decor items, teak, as well as 'angsana' and 'cengal' wood, are very suitable.

"For outdoor products, 'balau' wood is the most appropriate because it is very resilient," he told Bernama, adding that the choice of wood was also influenced by other factors like its colour and grain.

Placing a piece of wood measuring 25.4 centimetres in length and breadth on his worktable, Azizul took a chisel and proceeded to carve out motifs of sea waves on the wood, focusing on his work intently.

Suddenly, he stopped carving and complained that the chisel's blade was not sharp enough.

"When the blade is not sharp, the carving won't turn out beautifully and the end-product will look crude," he said, adding that fine carvings can only be produced with the help of razor-sharp chisels.

"The quality of the craftsmanship of any wood carving I'm making is crucial to me. This carving I'm doing now is for the signboard of a five-star hotel, so all the more I have to make sure it is impeccable."

Most people tend to think that the quality of any wood-based craft depends entirely on the type of wood used but this is not at all the case, he added.

Elaborating on the chisel blade, Azizul, who has been involved in the wood carving industry for the last 20 years, said honing it required a special technique.

"It's not the same as sharpening the blade of a knife. Honing a chisel blade is much more complicated and it took me three months to learn the technique," he said, pointing out that most chisel blades were curved and have to be sharpened at every angle. One of the most important components of a wood carving skills course that he took up at an art school in Bali, Indonesia, was learning to hone the blade of the chisel.

Any mistake in the honing process can not only taint the quality of the wood carving but also cause damage to the chisel, which is the carver's prized implement.

Azizul, who was born and raised in Langkawi, operates his craft-making business under his company Idea Craft & Wood Enterprise.

He does not come from a family of carvers and had to start from scratch. But the unique selling point of his wood carvings is the motif, mainly contemporary designs that are heavily influenced by Langkawi's scenic natural surroundings.

"My carvings have an identity of their own. I usually use motifs of clouds, waves, sea currents, roots, twigs and leaves. Rarely do I use floral motifs as I want my designs to be different from the traditional ones," he explained.

Preferring simple motifs over intricate ones, Azizul said international tourists like contemporary designs as they look fresher.


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