Saturday, August 01, 2009



I have never carved Jelutong before and I was intrigued by the wood and where it came from. If you have ever seen wooden clogs, used a product where during design a wooden pattern was created, chewed chewing gum, visited Penang, you may have had a brush with Jelutong, yet the name of the tree is not well known to us.

Jelutong is a type of tropical tree and it is a tall hardwood tree that grows in Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra. It grows rapidly and has many commercial timber uses, but it is equally well known for its by product latex.

Jelutong is a great wood for carving and this fellow has taken a while to complete not because the wood was tough but because he just wasn't turning out right, I think I have removed as much in waste as whats left. Additionally the adding of wire hair was time consuming....!

Jelutong is also a province of Malaya on the Island of Penang, and there is a Jelutong highway to George Town which I must have driven along in 1990 when I was on Penang.

Jelutong is one of many trees tapped for material that is used as a base for chewing gum. The latex in the wood is extracted by a process known as tapping--cutting v-shaped grooves into the standing, live tree with knives. The latex is collected, usually in containers made from bark, and goes through further processing to make gum. The latex is also used in paints and for sizing paper. Tapping begins when a tree is young. As a tree matures, additional cuts or taps will be made. Tapped trees may be stained from a fungus.

The inscription on the back of the piece is from a favourite song:

There's spirits above and behind me

Faces gone black, eyes burning bright

May their precious blood bind me

Lord as I stand before your fiery light

A dream of life

As well as the Woodwose inscription

If alone in the woods most of us are all capable of feeling 'that something around still and watching' is that not true?

The hair is thin steel wire that will over the next few months rust, the following picture is of a wire flower I made from the same type of wire and has been in the garden for a while. I have added it here to give you an example of the color that the hair will eventually turn.

Let me know what you think.

Regards Dave


ArtPropelled said...

Chewing gum huh? Such an interesting post, Dave. I had no idea. Not a splinter of Jelutong to be found in the dorp where I live which is a pity. They used to import loads of it.

Love your carving, back and front....and the steel wool hair! The flower is fantastic! If our wire workers got wind of it they would be copying it and selling them on every street corner. The only problem is they like to varnish everything to stop the rust. They think I'm a crazy woman asking for no varnish so that the pieces can rust naturally.

Dave Jones said...

Hi Robyn. Its a shame that you cant get it, have they replaced what it was used for with another local timber? I am aware of the wire workers of Africa but we only get a small amount over hear for sale, I would love to show them how I make the flowers.

May I be cheeky and suggest you do a post on the range of wire work available from your part of the world?