THINK Malaysian handicraft, and the list usually includes batik, wood carvings and rattan products. However, these are not the only ones, as the National Craft Expo 07 at Kompleks Kraf Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Conlay, proves.
Rows of interconnected white tents showcase a myriad of local handicraft produced by more than 400 entrepreneurs nationwide.
Tables and cubicles cramped next to one another display fine works using wood, stone, silver, ceramic, cane and and textiles, all with a Malaysian touch.
Some of the items are made using the latest technology while others are still painstakingly handmade.
Organised by Kraftangan Malaysia, the expo is being held in conjunction with National Craft Day celebrations and continues until March 18.
The expo provides an opportunity for local craftsmen, artists and business people to market their products.
At the same time, visitors can also view handicraft from throughout the country under one roof and in air-conditioned comfort.
“It is a rare opportunity for me to get a chance to shop like this and, at the same time, see how these handicraft are made.
“I don't have to go from one workshop to another just to see how they are crafted, “ said Joan Mishek, from the USA.
She said her tour agent had informed her about the expo and she was glad she had taken the opportunity to visit.
Mishek, who was accompanied by her friend Melissa Williams, said the event should not be missed, especially by tourists like herself.
“This is a good place to get souvenirs to take home,” said Williams, who also took the opportunity to get some henna painting done.
For Mohd Yusof Abbas from Taiping, Perak, the expo gives him the opportunity to market his products.
Mohd Yusof, who has been making copper cookie moulds since the 60s, said participating in the expo gives him a chance to introduce his products to a bigger market.
“A lot of people have come and asked about my products here and I guess not many people know that they can order the moulds from me.
“All this while, I have been getting orders from those who know me and those who have heard about me through word of mouth,” he said.
He added that although the copper moulds were more expensive than plastic ones, they last longer and could produce nicer designs. According to him, professional chefs and bakers usually prefer the copper moulds.
Visitors also have a chance to be entertained by cultural shows including singing and dancing. Several stages have been set up throughout the area to provide simultaneous performances.
They are also demonstrations on wau (kite) making, traditional Indian pottery and textile weaving like songket and Rungus, which is a traditional weaving method by the Rungus ethnic group from Kudat, Sabah.
At the same time, guests can learn how to play traditional games like congkak, wayang kulit (shadow play) or get more information on classical dances and music like gamelan.
The expo is open to the public from 9am to 8pm.