Traditional Khmer Art

Now that the Mayans were proven incorrect and the world hasn’t actually ended, we thought a post on some architectural art we commissioned might be nice. Coincidentally it is of the mythical Hindu god Kala, who, according to legend, consumes all living things during the advent of winter. If you subscribe to the myth, Kala is currently consuming the northern hemisphere. Southern hemisphere – you’re next!

K1 Sketch
Above is a sketch one of MGLM’s principals generated during a trip to Cambodia in 2011. Two MGLM principals were there to discover construction techniques and develop relationships with artisans and contractors to execute designs we completed pro bono for the Charitable Education Organization and NGO, PEPY. They are a great organization that is doing essential work in Cambodia. If you know anything about Pol Pot or the history of the country, you know how important their cause is.
K2 Sketch
Carved onto a significant number of lintels in many of the Cambodian Temple Complexes around Siem Reap, Kala represents change. In a way, it is the Cambodian version of the Latin maxim: Carpe Diem. It is a reminder that all things come to an end, so we should appreciate and make the most of the time we have. The sketch is an interpretation of a couple different lintels, and draws heavily from the most intricately carved temple buildings at Banteay Srei. The pink/red sandstone allows for incredible detail. In the sketch, the stylized curls going into Kala’s mouth represent the world. They are covered with the traditional Pnhee Plueng – the Fire Flower. The rest of the carving also utilizes the fire flower motif.
K fireflower2
While in Cambodia, our fantastic guide introduced us to an artisan school which is hard at work keeping alive the traditional Khmer arts. It is located at a Buddhist Temple and run by a very well respected monk, with whom, and his head artisan, we had the honor and pleasure of an audience. The story of the meeting we’ll save for another post. We gave them the sketch and, through our guide who translated everything, described how we would like it carved in wood, and what its dimensions should be. We left there assured of how highly skilled the artisans are but not sure how the carving would turn out.
Kala
You can imagine our delight when this arrived 6 months later! The piece is perfect. The shipping cost was not exorbitant, making this something we are pursuing further.
K2
The detail and depth is amazing as is the care for its overall quality. We have plans to commission a number of other carvings, and we are also accepting requests. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to take advantage of this amazing resource, but more importantly, help keep traditional arts alive.
K eyes2
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Kitchen Renovation in Progress

Range detail

New Lacanche (France!) range and Rookwood (Ohio!) subway tile backsplash.

Crown detail

New crown detail & a recessed light still awaiting its finishing touches.

New window over sink

New tripartite window over the sink, expertly crafted by Krumpen Woodworks – still waiting on the final hardware (and sink fixtures).

New island

New island with Vermont Danby Marble countertop and butcher block end piece (and more temporary sink fixtures!).

New range and subway tile backsplash

The new Lacanche range and Rookwood subway tile backsplash – fine Christopher Peacock cabinetry throughout!

Pot filler detail

Detail of the pot filler and handsome tile (pre-grout).

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The vanquished kitchen: circa summer 2012…

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…it didn’t quite fit the aesthetic of the lovely Colonial home it supported.