The state of Selangor, just outside the metropolis of Kuala Lumpur, not only offers historic, natural and culinary attractions as I’ve discovered on previous media tours, but also a range of traditional and modern handicrafts that make unique gifts and souvenirs – as we discovered during the Kembara Kraf Selangor 2015 tour! Here are the incredible handmade products you can find:
Mah Meri Spirit Sculptures
Mah Meri are the orang asli (aboriginal people) of Selangor known for their exquisite sculptures of spirit animals which were traditionally carved as ritual offerings to appease the souls of hunted animals. There are more than 700 designs of this expressive aboriginal artwork which fetch handsome prices in the art world today. Watch how these incredible spiritual sculptures are created at the Mah Meri Cultural Village in Pulau Carey, Kuala Langat.
Prisoner-Made Handicrafts by My Pride
The Malaysian prison system employs handicraft making as a form of therapy for its inmates, while providing them skills for an alternative livelihood when they return to the outside world. Prisoner-made handicrafts are sold under the My Pride brand, which are distributed by retailers across the country. Among the handicrafts produced are Malay batik, songket, ceramic ware, wood carving, rattan ware, furniture, traditional food items and others. My Pride products are displayed at their showroom at Unit Pemasaran, Bahagian Vokasional Dan Industri, Ibu Pejabat Penjara Malaysia, Bukit Wira, 43000 Kajang, Selangor. Their products can also be ordered online here!
Wood Rings by Tok Sabri Tukang Cincin
Have you ever seen cincin kayu? Instead of gemstones, these metal rings are set with polished pieces of native hardwood believed to improve the health and provide supernatural protection. At his small roadside shop in Klang, ring-maker Sabri bin Yunus has been making these traditional jewelry for the past eight years, inheriting the skills from his father. Aside from making cincin kayu, Sabri also makes gemstone rings, jewelry and kris swords. For more information, visit his blog.
String Arabic Calligraphy by Amalkufi
String art may look like child’s play but husband-and-wife tandem Amalkufi transforms it into avant-garde pieces by illustrating Arabic kufi calligraphy that spell out religious verses from the Quran. They can also customize an artwork, which some of their clients give as souvenir gifts to VIPs. Learn more about them on their Facebook and Instagram accounts!
Fabric Crafts by Sew Fabby
Run by homemaker Azzah from Shah Alam, Sew Fabby sells personalized and ready-made sewing and embroidery products – many of them created from scrap fabric. Among her customizable products are towels, bag tags, blanket, pillows and pencil cases. Azzah hosted a sewing challenge during our media tour at a cool local coffee shop called Lads & Lassies, where we had to make and design a coin purse out of old denim. Despite having no prior sewing experience, I won the contest
Polymer Clay Art by Luvly Touch
After surviving a difficult divorce, entrepreneur Khadijah Ahmad turned to handicraft making as a form of emotional therapy, eventually putting up Luvly Touch, a social enterprise which helps other single mothers earn extra income by teaching them how to make gift items out of polymer clay. For a minimal fee, she trains them how to make polymer clay baby roses at her training center in Shah Alam. She buys the finished products from those who have learned the craft, selling them as brooches for the overseas market. Now that puts the art in heart! For more information, visit their Facebook page.
Pressed Flower Art by Esiah Kiamun
Have you made pressed flower art before? A traditional art form in Japan and China, press flower craft consists of drying flower petals and leaves in a flower press to flatten and exclude light and moisture. Pressing flowers makes them appear flat, and often there is a change in color, ranging from faded colors to a greater intensity of vibrant colors. Sixty three year old Esiah Kiamun has been creating beautiful artworks made of dried press flowers for the past 16 years at her home in Kampung Sungai Lang Tengah in Kuala Langat. She has exhibited her work around the world, attracting loyal patrons like Malaysian royalty and celebrities. Interestingly, Esiah can also read people’s personalities through their press flower art with pretty accurate results! For more information, visit her Facebook page.