Crafting Buddha statues with eco-friendly jesmonite

When it comes to interior design, people are looking for that “wow” factor. While it is common to find pieces made of concrete,

clay and even ceramic, coming across objects made of jesmonite is rare. After all, the material itself, which is known to be friendly to the environment, remains a mystery to many.

In October last year, Thilagham Nanthidhaven, owner of Vidhies Designs, started making coasters and trinket trays. However, it is his iconic Buddha statue, made of jesmonite, that has become his signature piece.

FMT Lifestyle visited Thilagham, 46, at his art space in Puchong, where he makes all his pieces alone. The mother of two, who has worked at the Electrical and Electronics Association of Malaysia for 12 years, left her job in August last year to pursue her passion full-time. But he does not only create any other crafts. “I knew I had to do something special and it would help Mother Earth,” he said. Although he has been an artist since he was a child, this time, his interests lie elsewhere. “I love watching interior design shows and decorating my own home. That’s how I got into the bedroom.

After researching, he found jesmonite. Jesmonite is commonly produced overseas, and is made from a mixture of gypsum,

a mineral from sedimentary rock, and water-based acrylic resin. Known to be a durable material, it is widely used to make decorative molded objects.

“Not many people sell 100% jesmonite products in Malaysia because importing them is quite expensive. It is common to see decorative plaster,” he said. After buying a few silicone molds online, she started making everything from shell trays to flower pots, following online video tutorials. He turned to social media to sell his product, but sales were slow. “For the first few months, I didn’t get any response,” Thilagham admits.

That’s when the idea came to try to make an image. Being interested in spirituality, Thilagham was interested in Buddha. He bought something online and the rest is history. “In December, I received my first order, and surprisingly it was for a Buddha statue,” he said with a smile.

“I believe I am the first person in the world to make such a statue with jesmonite.”

Since then, it has become his bestseller, but for Thilagham, it means a lot

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