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Carving out a living

By Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times Share:
Wood carving is a traditional art in Cambodia and some specialty shops in Phnom Penh are keeping it alive using modern tools and old skills. KT/Fabien Mouret

Sopha started carving wood when he was only 15 years old and the now 30-year-old works in a shop in Phnom Penh turning out intricate figures of all sizes.

Sitting in the shop where he works in the suburbs of the city, Sopha is surrounded by wooden furniture and other carved pieces of timber, while chisels, hammers and electric grinders litter the floor.

In between carving his next masterpiece, Sopha sits and waits for customers to come in and place their orders or buy some of the carvings the store has in stock.

“I’ve been interested in the wood carving and sculpting business since I was 15,” he told Khmer Times.

He said he can carve and sculpt every type of wood, no matter how big or small.

“Some of the carving and sculpting can take at least 10 days to a month, depending on the size of the wood,” he said.

Mr Sopha added he takes orders from customers and they often send him a piece of timber they want to use.

Some of the wood that customers bring to be shaped into their favourite designs is expensive, so the utmost care must be taken.

“The price depends on the negotiations with the customers,” he said.

Every month he earns between $200 and $300.

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