IPOH, Aug 7 ― Chick blinds weaver Lau Chee Wah is the last in his family of 11 siblings to be involved in the weaving business.
Lau, 83 has been painstakingly making the product for the past 70 years.
Speaking to Malay Mail when met at his shop at Lorong Bijeh Timah, Lau said he would not pass on his knowledge even if someone offered to learn from him.
“It is a dying industry,” he said as he deftly weaved a blind.
This was due to not many people appreciating the traditionally-made chick blinds compared to machine-manufactured Venetian blinds available in the market now.
“Traditional chick blinds cost a few hundred ringgit to make but those sold off the shelf fetch only RM50.”
Despite the huge difference in price, Lau said there was still demand for hand-made chick blinds although purchases were not consistent.
“Those who chose hand-made chick blinds are for its ventilation.”
Lau, who inherited the business from his father, said he was the third generation in the family to be in the trade.
“I started learning during my teens after schooling hours.”
Whenever an order comes in, Lau needs up to two weeks to complete the order.
“I will start weaving in the morning and continue until night,” he said, adding the going rate now is RM9.50 per 0.09 square metre.
But there will be additional charges for artwork and installation.
“The minimum size I make is 0.9 metre wide while the maximum is three metres.”
Lau uses either nipah palm, bamboo or wood to make the chick blinds that were custom cut to one-inch strips.
It is then secured using fine steel wires or nylon strings according to customers' preferences.
“Unlike the ready-made product with standard measurement and fixed colours, customers can custom-make their chick blinds with me.”
If you think Lau's chick blinds are only distributed locally, you are wrong.
“I have received orders from as far as the US.”
On extending its lifespan, Lau said chick blinds would need to be rolled up if there are strong winds.
“Preferably a fresh coat of paint is applied to it at least once every two years.”
For details on Lau's chick blinds, he can be contacted at 05-2542972.