Some of the pieces on display in the gallery at Mahkota Crystal. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

This article was first published on April 13, 2019 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 33

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Glass-blowing is a rare profession requiring persistence and patience, especially when one has to spend hours around hot steaming furnaces.

The challenging working environment may be among the top reasons why the occupation remained unpopular to Bruneians – but it definitely not a non-lucrative one, as proven by the front-liners of the country’s sole glass-blowing studio Mahkota Crystal.

While the market for glassware and décor remained small, its client base in Brunei has definitely grown from when Mahkota was first incorporated in 2001 – and they now consist of big corporates from various sectors in the country.

One of its best-selling products is customised trophies and décor, and growing clientele means growing production demands – and this means Mahkota will have to think of ensuring its resources are sustainable for the long-term.

Lining up successors

General Manager Pg Hj Sharifuddin Pg Hj Bakar said Mahkota has plans to recruit more people and increase the frequency of its in-house trainings. The firm, he said, needs to ensure that it has enough resources before it could expand further.

The last in-house training it hosted was in 2016.

Besides utilising international experts, Mahkota can now depend on its three main artisans who had been with the company since its beginning. While imparting their knowledge and experience, they could also learn new things from their juniors.

Glass artisan, Hj Najri Hj Saban working on a glass piece in the workshop at Mahkota Crystal. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Another thing that needs to be addressed, the general manager said, was public’s perception to glass-blowers.

“Prospective glass-blowers need interest and creativity. They should also be persistent against extreme heat in their work environment,” he said.

“At the same time, they should also be able to juggle their operational tasks to dealing with customers, especially those opting for custom orders,” he added.

As of now however, glass-blowing seems to remain a challenging task – more awareness needs to be pushed to the public and that was why, he said, the company plans on carrying out public classes, which is open for a small fee.

Details of these classes has yet to be shared, but the general manager said that it will be open sometime around this year.

Future plans

Besides strengthening its resources, Mahkota is also strategising its move to penetrate foreign markets. Part of that move was to utilise e-platforms and increase its presence overseas.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Currently, Mahkota’s market is largely domestic. Pg Hj Sharifuddin said there were foreign clients but they only bought souvenirs, gifts or trophies whenever they drop by Mahkota’s gallery at the Lambak Kanan Industrial areas.

At the same time, the firm is also looking to strengthen its grasp locally.

“Our target market used to solely be corporates, but now we have a new direction to go to other sectors as well,” he said.

“Our expansion scope now includes approaching local individuals and companies for birthday or anniversary gifts,” he added.

The Bruneian

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