Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Coffee Table For My Son's New House

Azrin with his three children, Irsyad, Ayen and Syakirah

Yanie posing with a friend. The Black Merc belongs to her friend.

It was sometimes in August 2010 that my daughter in law Yanie made a posting in her Facebook that she will be moving into her new home in Subang Alam in Section 27 Shah Alam. I immediately responded by promising to give a coffee table which she could collect when she came back for the last Idulfitri. Unfortunately the table was not ready as the workshop that I commissioned to do was too busy doing other jobs including my own wakaf (gazebo).
It was only today that the final coat of white shellac was sprayed and was ready for collection.
The table top for the coffee table is a special piece of cengal wood measuring 18" x 43" carved with floral motives. This piece of wood is special in that I had purchased it some 20 odd years ago from my uncle in Kuala Lumpur. It was a surplus piece from those used to decorate the walls of the traditional houses in Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam Shah Alam. I remember paying my uncle some RM300 for that piece with a few other items made from wood. The piece had been in my keep without knowing when it will ever be used. So when we moved back from our previous home in Gua Musang, that piece of wood carving came along. Though I have never found a proper use for it, it was never the less safely tucked away in a corner. Our own furniture of mainly Indonesian Jati did not seem to allow for this gem to fit in anywhere.
The beautiful carving with a floral motif.

That was until my son bought his new house that there was space enough for a coffee table which I offered him for via Yanie's facebook posting. There was a snag though. He had ordered his new furniture in white even though they were made of Cengal, the king of Malaysian wood. He wanted furniture made of wood that will last but of white color. To me painting wood is against the spirit of wood especially when they are made of cengal whereby all the grain in the wood will be obscured.

In the case of the coffee table, I had to compromise. The body of the table will be painted with white shellac, while the table top with the floral carving will be stained with wood oil and covered with a piece of 8 mm glass. Thus the carving will remain the color of the wood with the spirit of wood intact.
The table will be delivered to my son's home when I next visit them after Yanie has delivered my ninth grandson in January 2011.
Today is Azrin's birthday. Happy birthday son.


  1. I know your son and his family is going to love the table. Don't forget to post a pix of the completed table for us to see, k!

  2. Pat,
    I have taken a pic of the completed table minus the glass top as the glass top will be bought in KL so as to facilitate the conveyance of the table. Will post the pic of the table tomorrow for you to see.

  3. The idea of painting the table body in white is endearing,while leaving the top to the spirit of wood is 'green'. If such wonderful gift with its details: date, carver,design and motive or even the 'why'such colors selected,are catalogued for the purpose of posterity and give it to its new owner ,would it be fascinating? For me, however insignificant gift is, details sometimes do play a significant part. :-)

  4. Azmi Murad Alias,
    Thank you for the idea. I will consider the coffee table as one of my paintings and catalogue it as such. However this maybe the only coffee table that has this floral carving for its top as it is the only one in my possession that is large enough for a coffee table. I do have smaller items though that can be made into a side table and given as gift to my other children.

  5. I have a complete set of cengal sofa .. made by my late father.. after several years the children want to have new sofa set. We are still using it, in not so prominent a place as my small living room.. At times I do remind my family the set is one of the 5 complete sets made with the labour of love.. handmade by my late father..

  6. Wan,
    This is the problem when the younger generation do not understand the value of the labour of love. get them to polish the cengal set with wood oil and tell them of how their grandfather built the set, maybe that will get them to appreciate them better. The set will fetch a fortune when they become an antique item. There are not many fully matured cengal wood around to make such furniture anymore.

  7. Pat,
    The completed table can be seen at

  8. Hi Zawi,

    Your artistry and skill are outstanding. This was a remarkable gesture of love for your family.

  9. Louis,
    I didn't claim I did this table myself. I just throw the idea to the carpenter and had him do the table based on what materials I had with me.

  10. Hello Zawi, wishing you and family selamat hari raya adil fitri.
    Hey, I really love that coffee table. Its beautiful.
    The carver is really very good.
    And your son has a lovely home.

    You keep well Zawi, best wishes....regards to your wife, Lee.

  11. Salam Pak Zawi,

    My first time here, stumbled upon ur blog as i clicked on your comment at mamashita's. U know, how this is such a small world, saw ur daughter in law's pic here posing with a lady in yellow. That lady is my cousin, Aziana...hahaha. Keciknya dunia!

    Congrats on your son's new home. The coffee table is stunning...:-)

  12. Salam Pak Zawi,

    Tahniah kepada anak Pak Zawi atas rumah baru tu. Meja tu akan menambah seri ruang tamunya.

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  16. Hi,very nice and great work for your children.I really liked your idea related to Coffee Table.Well done