Weddings sweeter as Lao artist's vision comes to fruition
Carving is a creative art that takes painstaking precision, whether the chosen medium be wood, stone or otherwise.
With vibrant natural colours and their glorious if impermanent nature, fruit and vegetable carvings are proving an increasingly popular decorative feature for special events such as weddings both here in Laos and abroad.
Ms Ott Sengkhamyong with decorative carvings for clients' weddings.
With ingenuity and craftsmanship of artists like Ms Ott Sengkhamyong, a wide variety of motifs can be carved into produce, from flowers to animals and more.
Those who have been lucky enough to attend a Lao wedding or two would be familiar with the extensive floral arrangements preferred by many happy hosts that greet guests at the entrance.
Here in Laos as elsewhere abroad, the extensive use of flowers is a common feature to welcome guests and exemplify the joyous nature of the lucky couple's nuptials.
Increasingly, amid the arrangements can be found intricate fruit and vegetable carvings at the very centre of the display.
Flower motifs carved into fruit are an increasingly popular display feature at both pre and post-wedding receptions here in Laos.
Many styles and designs have different and attractive features and are limited only by the imagination and skill of the artist as well as the characteristics of the chosen fruit or vegetable.
Of course by their very nature, various fruits and vegetables such as those of the melon family are not so difficult to carve into in and of themselves.
With the right skill and patience, anybody could do so, at least in theory.
However, it takes time, an artistic eye and focus to achieve results like those being produced consistently by a fruit and vegetable artist like Ms Ott.
Ms Ott is a lady with a love of fruit carving who has shown her passion and skill in the United States as well as at home in Laos.
She did not learn how to carve fruit at any school, instead studying her own way via videos on YouTube, information on Google and various books.
A Lao citizen living in Fort Smith in the United States state of Arkansas since 2000, she first began to carve fruit and vegetable prior to departing her homeland for life abroad.
She spoke to Vientiane Times recently to share her experiences in fruit carving on a recent visit to the home of her cousin in Vientiane's Dontiew village in Xaythany district.
She explained that when she has free time from her day job she finds time to carve fruit and vegetables, primarily to display at the weddings of friends and relatives.
Returning to Laos for her niece's wedding recently, she carved water melons into floral designs to be displayed at the door.
I gave the best gift I could, which is my time and energy to make a beautiful water melon flower from my heart to give to my niece and her groom on their wedding day.
It took around three or four hours to carve flowers into the water melons to display at their wedding reception, Ms Ott said.
To maintain freshness with her medium she must work fast with a cool head and hands.
She removes the green outer skin of both small and big water melons at the time at which she wishes to commence carving.
She gets to work, whipping up a frenzy among the fruit.
Soon emerging in the water melon's distinctive hues are motifs such as roses, leaves, hearts, the names of bride and bridegroom and other imagery suitable to the momentous occasion.
The fruit carved into flowers at her niece wedding received a lot of interest from the guests who attended, Ms Ott said.
Many guests posed for pictures with the sweet and attractive display.
Ms Ott has been now been busy carving her signature motifs into produce for display in Laos and the United States over several years finding fans and fascinating visitors alike.
Her handiworks have found pride of place at restaurants, entertainment events, weddings and more at home and abroad, proof positive of the enduring popularity of natural beauty harnessed via this proud Lao countrywoman's sense of art, style and vision.
By Viengdavanh Banhphahaksa
(Latest Update March 24, 2017)