March 3rd, 2023

I’ve just returned from my buying trip, which included my final stop in Indonesia where I found myself captivated by the rows of moss-covered stone statues amidst the thick air left behind by the previous night’s rain. I couldn’t help but fall in love with these beautiful sculptures every time I laid eyes on them, and my weakness for their allure led me to purchase not one but two 40-foot containers full of them. These exquisite stone statues are set to arrive just in time for the spring gardening season in April-May.

Nyoman and I have been collaborating since 2004. His exceptional talent is immediately apparent in the delicate and fluid lines he carves into his Buddha statues, as exemplified by the plump and content Buddha he’s currently holding. The expression on the statue’s face is unlike anything else you’ll find in the Indonesian market, and to top it off, the Buddha is even holding a cup of coffee!

As an art enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for artists who possess the ability to create something truly distinctive with a style that’s unmistakably their own.

For 19 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Wayan Sabur and his son. Whenever I step into their workshop, I’m always greeted by Wayan’s warm and welcoming smile, which reflects his joyous outlook on life. He takes each day as it comes and truly enjoys every moment.

Despite the different perception of time in Indonesia, I’ve often commissioned custom orders with Wayan, only to return the next year to find them partially completed.

One of his remarkable creations is a stunning Buddha standing on a blooming lotus. The intricate carving of the Buddha’s robes is exceptional, resembling the undulating waves of the ocean more than traditional cloth. This design is so unique that I always purchase every statue he creates in this style.

Artists like Wayan used to be more common in Indonesia, but their time is dwindling. Thankfully, his son is ready to continue his father’s legacy by carrying on his designs and artistry into the next generation.

What do you think of these doors?  Teak wood doors.  Should Lotus Sculpture start importing them?
What do you think of this teak wood root decorative piece?  It will be polished and cleaned up.  It is unique in that it is just fine outdoors as well as indoors. It is monstrous too with a size of 8 feet by 8 feet. It is one of those unique pieces that you just do not see anymore.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Echo for around 15 years. He works at a stone workshop and is a true character, as evidenced by his mischievous grin and playful demeanor, as seen in the photo of him holding his dentures.

Echo is like a large feline in his approach to work – he only works when he needs money and takes days off to rest and relax when his pockets are full. His lifestyle has earned him the nickname “Sultan Echo” since he lives like a sultan, sleeping when he’s satisfied and only working when he has to.

Personally, I love his approach to life. What a fantastic way to live – enjoying the fruits of your labor and only working when necessary!

Borobudur & Prambanan Temples of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

February 23rd, 2023

I have been wanting to go to the famous Buddhist temple of Borobudur and the Hindu temple of Prambanan since my backpacking days.  I have seen the temples in Bagan, Burma, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia and this was the last piece to the 3 sacred, must-see, sights of South East Asia. Needless to say, I was not disappointed!

Wandering around Prambanan I was like a kid in a candy store. I started off in the furthest, least impressive temple.  It is my philosophy when seeing temples to always start at the least impressive first and build your way to the most impressive.  This way you don’t start off with amazing and then just get disappointed with seeing everything else.  (I think the reverse is true with food.  I always start with the best and work my way to the worst).  I love the feeling of an abandoned ruin.  Walking alone up the steps and through the narrow temple doors you feel like you are the first person to step foot into the temple for the past 500 years, Marco Polo made a discovery for the world. It is an amazing feeling that only lasts until some tourist in sneakers comes into your picture frame when you are looking for that perfect shot!  But the feeling is there…you are an explorer!

A magnetic Ganesha statue I fell in love with inside one of the temples of Prambanan

I am a huge Pink Floyd fan.  They have a famous live recording of them playing in the ruins of Pompei, Italy.  Walking around Prambanan that first day I had the soundtrack to this playing in my mind…..I could literally hear Richard Wright belting out the crescendo in the epic song, Echoes as I climbed over the rocks and surveyed the temple!

Sunrise bathing Borobudur temple in its misty, pink glow. After 25 years of wanting to go, I finally laid eyes on it!

The next day I woke up at 4 am to catch the sunrise peak over the horizon and bask in its light on the Buddhist temple of Borobudur. It was amazing!  The whole complex is set up like a mandala (a Buddhist depiction of the universe) with a huge stupa in the middle with 18 huge stupas surrounding it.  The stupas were enormous and impressive, each containing a Buddha statue inside the stupa.  There were 4 levels to the temple, each containing a story from either the Buddha’s life or the Ramayana epic.  The carvings were all absolute masterpieces.  

It is an amazing thing when you get to experience something that you have been waiting for for over 25 years!  It is good to know that there is still some adventure out there, you just have to get out there and discover it!


February 17th, 2023

Jew is an artist who creates stunning Buddha statues with intricate patinas that boast an impressive level of texture and depth. I ordered a set of his statues four months ago and they are currently in the process of being colored and patinaed. I have yet to find an artist who can match the quality of Jew’s work
Three years ago, when I was in Bangkok, I had the pleasure of meeting Aon for the first time. He was only 17 and was helping out his family. Fast forward to today and Aon is 20. He was beaming with pride when he showed me the Ganesha statue he had made entirely by himself, from the wax model to the casting and coloring. This is an impressive feat considering it’s usually a group effort. Seeing Aon carry on the tradition of statue-making was encouraging and gave me hope for the future of the industry. It’s often discouraging to hear news of the older masters passing away without any new students to take their place, but Aon is a glimmer of light in the darkness.
It’s fantastic to observe, female artisans in the statue-making process! Many women are involved in the painting and decorating of traditional Thai Buddhas.
During my shopping trip, I stumbled upon these stunning photos of revered Thai monks. I couldn’t resist purchasing them to add a unique touch to my warehouse. It’s always so exciting to find such lovely, unexpected items!

I have had the great fortune to be friends with Jew and Jin for 16 years. It’s been wonderful to watch our relationship grow and develop over the years, just like a flower blooming in the spring. Our friendship has been a blessing, and I’m so grateful for the long-lasting bond we’ve been able to share.
My trip to Thailand ended with a half day of sightseeing. In my 30 years of visiting Bangkok, I was still surprised by the number of sights to take in. While I have often admired Wat Arun from the river, I had never taken the opportunity to visit it until my recent trip. If you’re ever in Bangkok, I highly recommend a short ferry ride across the river from the Grand Palace to Wat Arun. It’s well worth it!

Temples of Siem Reap

February 3rd, 2023

I was a little worried that the Angkor Wat I remembered from my backpacking days would be transformed into a bustling hive of busloads of clueless tourists.  I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. The “Tomb Raider temple” of Ta Phrom has been rebuilt back to its former glory.  Gone are most of the trees that grew through the temple and ultimately destroyed it.  Now it is rebuilt.  I thought it would be a letdown because the charm of this temple was the trees snaking through the dismantled stone blocks of the temple. But like all the new roads and reconstruction, it was done with taste and will preserve the temple for future generations.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

This temple was an almost vertical climb up the stairs.  It was a rewarding climb that left me so sore afterward. Great view! Worth it!

The Bayon temple is like stepping back in time with four faces of the Avalokiteshvara atop the pinnacle of each temple.

A beautiful Apsara carving!
I love that I am buying modern-day reproductions of the statue carvings I am seeing in the actual temples. We have this exact design of Apsara coming in wood, 6 feet tall.

These beautiful Cambodian-style Foo Dogs guard the entrances of the temples. 
They differ so much from Indonesian and Vietnamese Foo Dogs. 

This stunning Vishnu is the main deity of Angkor Wat.  We have this same design of Vishnu coming in our next container. It is so rewarding to see the original statue our modern-day statues are based upon.

Wood Artists of Cambodia

January 26th, 2023

I first met Chandreas 18 years ago.  He was a 12-year-old boy helping his mother in their wood statue business, struggling with English.  Upon arriving in Cambodia and having him greet me after a 5-year hiatus I was amazed at the man he has become.  His mother has passed away and now it is just Chandreas, his sister, and his father, Prou Kea running the business. 

Chandreas sells wood statues and panels of Hindu and Buddhist motifs carved from recycled wood.  The wood is from old houses, beds, and even pagodas.  The wood panels are made from wood planks that are used for beds and the larger statues are carved into the thick old pillars of houses.  The wood is an old, slow-growing, dense wood that is illegal to cut down anymore in Cambodia.  You can feel the weight of the statue when you pick them up.  They feel dense.  

I love nothing more than looking through his shop, searching in the corners for the old pieces that have a good layer of dust on them, and listening to Chandreas tell tales about what the story is behind the statue or where the wood is from. 

We took a trip out to where the statues are made on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.  It is a big, open area just littered with sawdust and half-carved statues. The 68-year-old Prou Kea greeted me.  We spent the next two hours together climbing through his shop digging in corners to find some hidden gems even he forgot about.  He showed me the raw pillars that the statues are carved from and the wood planks used for the panels from old beds.  A great find was 4 antique ox cart wheels that are from French colonial times and an antique rice mortar used for pounding the husk off of rice.  

After we finished looking through the workshop, Chandreas’s uncle and some of his father’s friends were enjoying the afternoon next to a smokey fire, so I decided to join them.  

We spent the afternoon eating salty, dried fish, and dried buffalo with ginger and stir-fried duck while drinking a fair amount of beer. On each sip of beer, everyone put their glasses together saying “Some Chul muy!” which is a respectful way of saying, cheers. The whole time I am grinning ear to ear thinking how fortunate I am to be here at that moment.

While writing this, I am watching Prou’s video where he is talking about the old wood and he is just a wonderful man.  They have a wonderful family.  I am honored to be associated with people like this. 

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