WALKING through the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex made me remember my art classes in school and how I used to colour batik with the canting tool.
The complex, located in Jalan Conlay, is a one-stop craft centre which has become a tourist destination.
It was also a walk down memory lane at the Craft Village section as there were live demonstrations of local craft and a do-it-yourself section.
The area is a hit among tourists and it is easy to see why.
Many took the chance to try their hand at colouring pieces of batik cloth or even start from scratch by drawing their design using canting filled with liquid hot wax.
Other than batik, visitors can also learn wood-carving as well as candle and ceramic-making.
Some activities can only be done in groups and reservations need to be made beforehand.
I chose batik-colouring as visitors can just walk in and choose a design they want to colour for a small price.
I chose a hibiscus design and the batik artist, Kak Siwon, told me it was similar to using water colour.
She explained that I should use a small amount of concentrated colours at places where I want the strongest hue and dip my brush into water to spread the colours, creating a beautiful gradient tone.
Once I got the technique, it was easy and I finished in an hour.
The big batik designs were priced at RM15 while the smaller ones were RM10.
Visitors who want to learn batik painting from the beginning can do so for a fee of RM35.
Around the corner, the wood-carving kampung called Jaaz Unique Craft caught my attention.
I met Zorollah Silin, known as the “Nose Man” because of his interest in carving noses.
Zorollah explained his preference for noses as according to him, it indicates one’s character.
Whether one chooses to believe him or not, all I can say is he read me like a book.
Visitors can learn carving from Zorollah at RM20 per hour. He begins by teaching the basic techniques of handling the knife for carving.
Another must-visit is the Craft Museum where there are displays of local craft.
I was told this museum shows techniques of making traditional local craft.
The first floor of the museum hosts thematic exhibitions which change twice a year.
During my visit, it was showcasing local wedding attire and marriage ceremonies as well as the products and stories of some local craftsmen who were awarded “Master Craftsmen” by the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation.
The second floor features permanent exhibits with 18 categories of crafts including pottery, songket-weaving and pua handloom-weaving.
Pua is made by the Iban community, who are believed to receive special instructions for new pua designs in their dreams.
The one that caught my attention was the huge replica of traditional boats made by Hasni Ali from Terengganu.
According to the information board, his skills were passed down the generations.
Hasni’s two sons are now carrying on the family tradition.
Another notable master craftsmen was Lim Swee Kim, who was well-known for nyonya kebaya.
A green nyonya kebaya of hers with beautiful peacocks was displayed.
The entrance fee is RM3 for adults (13 years old and above), RM1 for children (seven to 12 years old) and it is free for students in school uniform.
There is also a gift and souvenir shop and Karyaneka Boutique where visitors can get apparel, cloth, home decór and other items made from batik, woven cloth and songket.
There is also an Artists’ Colony, where art lovers can purchase artwork by local artists or even request for one.
My visit served as a reminder of the important work done by local craftsmen and the need to appreciate traditional arts and crafts and I certainly hope to come again.
The complex is located at Section 63, Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur and certain sections are open as early as 7am and close by 5pm.
For details, call 03-2162 7533 / 7459 or visit www.kraftangan.gov.my.