From beads to tattoos
THE RAINFOREST WORLD CRAFTS BAZAAR (RWCB) was clearly not a disappointment where the items on display were not only interesting and unique, but visitors got to see crafters working on their handiwork.
The craft bazaar was spread throughout the Malay House, Gasing Hut and the Melanau longhouses at Sarawak Cultural Village, with 10 stalls from the Sarawak Women’s Bureau, eight from Kraftangan Malaysia and 14 others which included Limkokwing, Purple DNA, Strings & Beads, and Sarawak Museum Shop respectively.
The creative bead makers
Local bead maker Vivizona and her mother, Florence Sujang, of Tradelinks Management System Borneo Delights, were among the crafters at the Craft Bazaar during the Rainforest World Music Festival 2014 (RWMF).
Among the type of beads that they produce themselves are raku, ceramic and glass beads.
According to Vivizona, she learnt to make glass beads about three years ago, attending a two-month coursse in Langkawi under the SCORE project. Most of her designs are modern and contemporary of Orang Ulu, Kelabit and Iban influences.
“To make one piece, it would takes 10 to 15 minutes and in a day, I could produce 30 to 40 pieces,”she said.
Vivizona said that glass beads were more costly than ceramic beads and are more time-consuming to produce.
While Vivizona is into glass beads, her mother, Florence, who has been a bead maker for 10 years now, specialises in ceramic beads.
She first started making ceramic beads about 10 years ago after joining a training sponsorship under the Ministry of Industrial Development (MID) with the coooperation of SIRIM for two-and-a-half years where she was actually being trained on how to make pots and vases; from how to process raw material to glazing, firing and the final products.
“Since there were leftovers of the clay from making pots and vases, I thought why not make beads out of them,” she said.
Before joining the ceramic course, she was making porcelain beads. “The process of making the china beads is the same as ceramic beads, it’s just that in making ceramic beads, the firing stage is different and more tedious,” she said.
She was inspired by the Lawas bead which was quite popular few years back. Although both type of beads have almost similar production processes, the Lawas bead emphasises on hand painting while ceramic beads only need to be glazed.
Another type of ceramic bead that she produces is called raku, where the beauty lies in it’s ‘imperfections’.
“The more cracks the raku has, the more beautiful and exquisite it is,” said Florence, adding that the raku beads were quite popular with buyers, because of its rather antique and rustic look.
In a day, Florence can make 200 to 300 pieces although now she produces the beads according to the trend where most people nowadays prefer bright colours over traditional motifs.
Depending on the shape and sizes, it would take her about to two to three minutes to shape the clay. Besides beads, Florence also make ceramic pendants.
For those who are interested in making beads of their own, Florence also provides classes at Demak Laut Industrial Park Phase, Jalan Bako.
Bidayuh artist, Narong Daun also made a presence during the RWMF at Limkokwing Creative Workshop in the Melanau Longhouse.
Using silk as her chosen medium for painting, she said that her inspiration came from nature and her surroundings which are close to her heart.
She chose silk as a medium for painting as it is something new and not as widely practiced as batik-painting which uses wax. Furthermore, she enjoys painting large pieces as they allow her to move around and it is more fulfilling.
While at the workshop, some visitors made personal requests for her painting. She said that most of them preferred something from their own imaginations like cartoon characters and abstracts patterns.
“But on the first day, most requested for paintings that had plants and nature-inspired elements,” she said.
While visitors were in awe of Narong’s artistic work at the workshop, they could not help but get in their creative mode as well by painting their own dabai seeds.
The soulful sape player
Matthew Ngau Jau of Lan E Tuyang has been making and playing sape for over 40 years now.
“Making sape is like my origin, if you are from the longhouse, it will come out naturally as playing and making sape are in my nature; it is my blood and soul from my ancestors,” he said when asked how he learned to make the sape.
A Kenyah from Long Semiyang, Baram, Matthew said that when playing his music, he does not incorporate any contemporary elements in his music but sticks to the traditional tunes.
Matthew explained that the traditional musical instrument was originally made out of adau wood which can only be found deep in the rainforest. Nowadays, a sape can also be made out merbau wood, pong ubi wood, engkabang wood, and nangka wood.
The maximum size for a sape is usually 4 feet in length, with a thickness of 4-5 inches and width of 6-10 inches. It takes at least a month to make the sape, but more time would be required to make those with intricate wood carving designs.
According to Matthew, each tune played from a sape has its own purpose: the kabun, for instance, is a wakeup call played by a sape player in a village early in the morning to signal that it’s time to wake up and go to the farm to work. Another one, called ‘lunduk anak’, is a lullaby for children.
The cool tattoo artist
While walking around Sarawak Cultural Village, it was not an unusual sight to see people with tattoos. Allowing people a chance to flirt with the idea of a tattoo, Borneo Airbrush Tattoo used alcohol-based ink in their temporary tattoos. According to the owner, Clement, they are not harmful to the skin and can last up for five days depending on how ones take care of it.
“Some can even last longer than five days if you put it on your leg,” he said.
According to Clement, while locals mostly preferred ethnic tribal design, foreigners opted for Maori designs and other patterns such as the silhouette of a Geisha and coy fish.
While some of Clements’s tattoo designs are obtained from the internet, he would modify the designs to make them look more interesting. Some of the patterns are his own designs, like the coy fish which is quite popular among his customers.
For anyone is interested in getting a temporary tattoo, you can always find Clement’s shop at Premier 101, Jalan Tun Jugah or feel free to check out his website at www.borneoairbrushtattoo.com.
See you at next year’s RWMF on August 7-9 2015!