Ikram Suhaily loves wood, everything about it excites him, the look, the feel of it and what he “sees” inside.
It's been a love affair with this natural element since his father asked him to “give him a hand” when he was just a young boy.
“I started picking up driftwood with my late-father who was a woodcarver who started up as a hobby, then began selling it,’ said Ikram. He asked me to come into the jungle with him, which inspired me to follow him doing these outdoor, natural activities,” he said.
Ikram helped his father create a table, pictured below, with large wrangly roots forming the base, a table which he still has at his home today.
In 1988 Ikram went to Louisiana in the USA to live with his sister and her American husband for what he calls “some soul searching.”
“I stayed there in the Bayou for a year and came up with the idea of carving shoes after making bigger things like that for a long time,“ pointing to an in-laid mirror framed with thick wood hanging on the wall in his Seremban home.
“The shoes sold really well in Louisiana and in The French Quarter art markets where some of the best craft in the world is sold,” he said.
Ikram returned to Malaysia in 1998 then due to economic reasons, "went to sleep for twenty years, and did not make one single shoe.”
After "waking up," from his twenty year slumber, Ikram now lives a fairytale story, working in the craft he loves and earning an income with regular exhibitions and events showcasing his shoes as well as some larger custom designed pieces.
He has an agent who helps him distribute his carvings around Malaysia and overseas which also includes faces and goods like bottles, signs and keychains.
“My product is mostly for the tourists and they seem to buy mainly for appreciation of the art and because all the wood is from recycled timber taken from renovated homes.”
In the future Ikram hopes to build a small studio in front of his house and perhaps a small gallery displaying the variety of his work and is formulating plans to use some of the empty rooms in his house for homestay type holidays, for those wishing to learn the craft his father once taught him all those years ago.
You can call Ikram to get a quote on any custom made wood product on 012 93021 44