Apr 09 2019
A typical Saturday for most of us would probably look something like sleeping in, and getting ready for a day or night out with friends or family...
For Ah Huat, he can be seen busy inside one of the nondescript workshops located among distant, remote industrial area in Sungei Kadut. He is one of the men behind the artwork with wooden merlion shingles that you will see at the arch-shaped entrance of our upcoming, latest store Naiise Iconic.
Watch the full video here:
The Rain Tree
Scientifically known as the Samanea saman, the Rain Tree belongs to the family of Fabaceae (Leguminosae) and millions of us go about our lives daily without realising that they’re busy towering majestically by the roadsides. Consider them some unsung heroes – as the equatorial heat and humidity pervades at least 721.5km² for at least 10 hours a day, they provide a generous amount of shade with their majestic canopy. Currently, 26,000 are planted in Singapore.
It’s also known in Malay as the Pukul Lima [5 o’clock (tree)], and there is a very interesting reason for this — the leaves remain open during the day, but fold in and shut when sunset hour comes around.
If you’re wondering, yes, the sunset hour is not until 5pm — but that was before 1982, when the current Singapore Standard Time (UTC+08:00) had not been created.
Ah Huat shares that they are using Suar Wood to create the wooden shingles. Suar wood is derived from the Rain Tree, and was chosen for their gorgeous ring lines, hard texture and resistance to fungus and termites. Halfway through, he emphasises that the company only harvests fallen trees and does not deliberately chop mature ones, as they are very mindful to take environmentally-friendly strides in their work. In other words, they breathe new life into the trees that have lived out their life cycle.
Turning the rain trees into the artwork is a lofty process, but it’s because of this that they work from big to small.
The wood is cut into a workable-sized rectangular blocks first. Demarcation of the curve is made on the blocks afterwards. They are then cut into trapezoids, and the cut-out side is then worked in to become a curve. A downward slant is then cut out from the height, and finally it is cut into two different types of shapes that can pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces are then smoothened and coated with a finish of wood varnish.
Here is a GIF to give you an idea of transforming a Suar wood block into the final shapes:
Do drop us a visit when we are fully open in May and check out the final artwork in its full majestic beauty!—
1) National Parks Board Singapore, Know 10 Trees: Rain Tree, <https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/heritage-trees/ht-2003-109>
2) Lee, Get to know these 9 well-known Heritage Trees, <https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/get-to-know-these-9-well-known-heritage-trees>
3) Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Albizia saman (Jacq. Merr.), <https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/dna/organisms/hdetails/406/0>