BUKIT MERTAJAM: Zainol Abidin Omar may be a septuagenarian, but his passion for wood carving makes him wants to continue to produce intricate carvings on models of the various icons of Penang such as the ferry, Penang bridge and the Bukit Bendera train.
Most of his wood carvings use plywood and a type of light hardwood known as jelutong, or scientifically known as dyera costulata.
The 75-year-old wood carver, who learn the art from a few Indonesian friends, said he normally takes two to five days to complete a ferry-shaped wood carving.
“I started making wood-carving of the ferry, the Penang bridge, Bukit Bendera train in 1986 and learned the art from my Indonesian friends who were then working here (in Pernang). Prior to that, I paint,” he said when met at his house in Sama Gagah recently.
Zainol Abidin, who has three children, said his wood carving of a ferry was sold for only RM15 each in 1986, but now the price is RM250 each, RM480 each for a wood-carving of the Penang bridge and RM300 for the Bukit Bendera train.
“I also make wood-carvings of traditional houses which is sold for RM350 a piece,” he added.
Zainol Abidin said he cherished every piece of his work because of the painstaking effort he took to complete each and everyone of them.
“It is that satisfied feeling I get when I completed each piece. That is what that keeps me wanting to continue to carve,” he said, adding that the process starts with cutting the wood, shaping and carving and then then painting the model.
Zainol Abidin said he has produced more than 4,000 pieces of wood carvings.
“My wife, Rogayah Mahmood, 66, also helps me, like cutting the wood to the specified size,” he said, adding that he also received orders to make wood carvings from private companies, factories and also individuals.
The orders, he said, included 15 pieces of a ferry model by the Penang Port Commission.
He said the wood carvings are normally given away as gifts or souvenirs.
His hope is to have more young people keen to learn the art of wood carving.