Clay Expression
The Art & Craft of Expressing Passion with Clay
Malaysia Seramik Kraftangan Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, PJ

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On a
  journey of
    discovery...

Field Trip visit with students to a tranquil 'Kampung' potters village in 'Perak'...

 
Pottery Field Trip Contents
Melaka Field Trip
Field Trip to Perak
Potter from Kelantan
Fauzi's Pottery Studio Trip
Raku Ancient Art of Firing
Clay Expression Open house


Students observing how a "Kampung Sayong" potter in "Perak" make a large form (picture on the right)

Exploring expressions, intrigued works of a thinking artist who has a penchant for portraying reality through art.

A dynamic energy that communicates the core of humanity - its potential for creating and manifesting beauty and good.

 

When we talk about the arts, we seldom focus on the people responsible for making their ceramics look good.

Ceramics designing is a complex crafting  process that involves so many aspects of creativity that the usual constraints don't really apply...

The designer is free to explore and create without restrictions--their creations  reflect its time, people, philosophy and fashion.


 

A potter from "Sayong, Perak" Craft center located near Labu Tanjung Bindara, Bota Kanan, Perak, demonstrating his skilled clay technique in the art of traditional pottery by using a table top hand-wheel to create a labu sayong (water pitcher)

Labu sayong are renown for it's medicinal value to cure migraines, lower blood pressure and improve overall health due to the special properties of the clay. "Labu"--a vase and "Sayong" a village

The amazing thing about this extraordinary labu sayong (water pitcher) is that the special local clay is semi- permeable porous but yet does not leak stored water and the temperature of water stored in them will drop to as low as 19C compared to outside air temperature of 27C in hot tropical countries like Malaysia.

The reason for the drop in stored water temperature are due to the semi-permeable porous clay that allow water to evaporate on the surface of the labu sayong (water pitcher) and during the evaporating participation process, it lowered the water temperature.


 
 
 
Perak covers an area of 21,000 square kilometers with a population of two million, making it the second largest state in Peninsular Malaysia. The state is situated along Malaysia's western coast at the northern approach to the Strait of Malacca that extends deep into the peninsula with its eastern border marked by mountains of the Main Range.

Until the nineteenth century, Perak's people were concentrated along the Perak River, and the chief city was riverside Kuala Kangsar. With the discovery of rich tin deposits in surrounding valleys it lead to the establishment of and transfer of the capital to Taiping and, later, Ipoh.

The tin mines around Ipoh are reputedly the richest in the world and Ipoh is one of Malaysia's larger cities with a population of about half a million people. The tin mines around Ipoh are reputedly the richest in the world.
Perak is heir to the Malaysian history that came to a close in the year 1511 with the capture of Malacca by the Portuguese.

The leaders of the Malaccan empire retreated south to Johor, where they re-established their power.

The eldest son of the Sultan, however, soon headed to the north, where he accepted an offer to become the first sultan of Perak.

Today, only Perak among the Malaysian states possesses a royal house descended directly from the rulers of legendary Malacca.

Sayong -- home to the labu sayong at Kam-pung Kepala Bendang where this particular type of water pitcher originated, is about 30 minutes drive from Ipoh on the Perak River in West Malaysia--a village 10KM from;
Kuala Kangsar -- the home to a long line of royalty.

 

The traditional way of making labu sayong involves using the hands to mould the clay into the shape of a "labu" on a piece of solid wooden plate like platter. (Pottery wheels are not used in traditional Malay pottery making.)

Upon completion, it is allow to air dry for a week before firing it in a small dome shaped bricks wood fired kiln at 1,040 Celsius for 6 to 8 hours before removing it while it is "red hot" dried paddy husks poured over it that will...

... immediately catch fire to create and to impart a black sheen colored labu sayong

When no paddy husks are used, the finished clay labu will have a natural light brown. But the color can range from yellowish brown to rust red, depending on the  inherent minerals and iron content residing in the clay.

After these labu water pitcher pots have been shaped and semi dried, they are smoothed with pebbles and decorated by engraving.

 
This royal town, being the forerunner of Malaysia’s famous rubber industry, it is no wonder the first rubber tree that was planted in the country stands in this town.

Of the first nine rubber trees planted with seeds from the Kew Gardens in London brought by first Perak Resident Sir Hugh Low in 1877, today, one of the original still stands next to the Kuala Kangsar Municipal Council building.
 
In this royal town, stands the magnificent Istana Kenangan completed in 1931 as the residence of Sultan Iskandar Shah, the 30th Perak Sultan who ruled between 1918 and 1938

What is most intriguing about Istana Kenangan, was that it was built without a blueprint or a single nail. The entire building is painted in the three official colors of the Perak flag representing the three branches of the royal family - white, yellow and black.

Istana Kenangan palace walls are made of woven sliced bertam or bamboo with diamond shaped motifs. The entire palace is built from the most solid and expensive wood while the roof is made of kayu berlian which is waterproof.

Another unique thing about this palace is that the doors at the top of its stairs are set horizontal on the same level as its floor, rather than vertical.

There are endless stories to tell about this royal town with its roots firmly steeped in age-old traditions and history, each unique and special. A short distance from
Istana Kenangan is Istana Iskandariah, the official palace till today.

 

Several traditional artistic techniques are use by hands to batik stamp, drawing, carving and painting to add some design on the surface of the labu sayong.

 
Finished unglazed
  black sheen colored
labu sayong is an odd-shaped gourd like vase water pitcher.

Traditional Malay pottery are more than just household utensils, they are cultural artifacts borne out of talented aesthetic determination of a people with uncanny ability to interpret nature in the most artistic way.

 

Istana Iskandariah, painted pristine cream and white with regal golden domes, the palace is sprawled over a large gated compound with the canopy of huge rain trees shading its beautifully landscaped grounds.

In 1984, a banquet hall and another ceremonial function hall was added on to the imposing palace of typical Moorish design.
Kuala Kangsar – home to generations of Sultans and their families – is much more than just a serene little town.

There are many rare and astounding items in Kuala Kangsar, such as; "A giant fungus measuring 1.37m in diameter and 0.58m high the biggest piece of fungus found in Malaysia."

There are also 74,000 years old stone tools that were discovered along with the Perak Man in Gua Harimau, Lenggong. Click here Kuala Kangsar to learn more about its history.

 

Finished unglazed rust red labu sayong -- when no paddy husks were used to apply to it after being removed from the kiln.

The clay used to make labu sayong are terra-cotta clay found by streams, riverbanks, and paddy fields.

The labu clay are (contains) coated with river silt having a high iron content, and the surface of the pottery is burnished to a smooth polish with a pebble, a technique carried out by potters at the town of Sayong, Kuala Kangsar is about 30 minutes drive from Ipoh on the Perak River in West Malaysia.

Sayong -- home to the labu sayong is about 10km away across the Iskandar Bridge from Kuala Kangsar. Makers of the labu sayong are many at the village of Kam-pung Kepala Bendang where this particular type of water pitcher originated.

 

 
A visit to one of Malaysia largest ceramic factory in Perak which produces 500 containers load of flower pots for export per year.


Workers preparing extruded
clay for making of flower pots.

 
Machines are used to mold
blocks of clay into flower pots.


The finished clay pots are then left to dry under the sun for days before they are loaded into kilns for firing.

 

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