The 67-year-old deftly cuts a plank from your massive log employing a storey-high band saw. “We are one of the few, otherwise the only, people still carrying it out in Hong Kong,” he tells visitors.
It had been a thrill to discover Wong at the job and tour his 10,000 sq ft sawmill, chock-a-block with assorted logs of numerous species, age and sizes. But just a couple of decades ago, timber businesses for example Chi Kee were common.
Wong and his awesome seven siblings grew up playing with their father’s lumber yard, Chi Kee Sawmill & Timber, which began operations in North Point in 1947 before relocating to Chai Wan after which its current site in 1982.
But the timber business in Hong Kong has steadily declined in recent decades as cheap, Furniture hk became easily accessible and manufacturing shifted to mainland China. Chi Kee is really a rare survivor from the twilight industry.
This has given Wong more time for his personal search for sculpture and carpentry. However, he is a huge lot busier recently after his business came to public attention as among the first slated to get cleared for the controversial North East New Territories Development Plan.
Intrigued artists and design students began to seek him out like a previously untapped resource on local wood crafts, and in a short time he was receiving school visits and holding woodworking workshops.
Whilst the fate of his factory is uncertain (he hopes to become relocated into a suitable site), Wong is delighted it really has been drawing so much buzz.
“They are crafts and livelihoods worth preserving,” he says. “We should consider a society’s sustainability; setting up buildings are only able to get you up to now.
“When I’m too busy to carry workshops and such, I share my knowledge on our Facebook page which my daughter setup to me. I speak about everything, from what several types of wood are ideal for to utilizing different tools and also the wisdom behind techniques such as mortise and tenon joints [every time a cavity is cut into a sheet of timber to slot in another having a protruding ‘tongue’]. The page is becoming quite popular.”
However, artist Wong Tin-yan attributes the fascination with Chi Kee as well as its owner the maximum amount of to some revival in woodworking among younger Hongkongers as opposition to the government’s development plan and support for small enterprises.
An art form complete Chinese University, Wong Tin-yan credits outfits including street art collective Start From Zero and SiFu Wood Works for promoting craftsmanship and desire for woodworking, especially among younger people.
Lung Man-chuen of Mr Lung’s Wood Workshop is a pioneer on this movement. The 83-year-old master craftsman started running classes with help from St James’ Settlement, and it has since rekindled many people’s appreciation of traditional wood crafts. Now, Lung’s new workshop in To Kwa Wan teems with students wanting to figure out how to make basic pieces of furniture, like a rustic, nail-free bench. One of the latest to share with you their delight and data about handcrafted items is Saturn Wood Workshop, started by two graduates from Baptist University.
Wong Tin-yan, too, helped fuel the renewed interest in utilizing wood. He started creating large-scale animal sculptures using pieces of discarded wood while still at university. His school was under renovation at the time, which gave him use of plenty of discarded planks and pallets. The piles of rejects reminded him of animal skeletons, Wong says, and that he has since created various installations to the Hong Kong Art Biennial, malls, museums and art galleries.
These are generally crafts and livelihoods worth preserving. We should think about a society’s sustainability; adding buildings could only get you to date.
“I also produce a point to host [woodworking] workshops at schools. I want students to sense of themselves specifically in this materialistic world what it’s love to make one’s own furniture,” he says. “To create is a human instinct and there’s a lot of enjoyment available as a result. Individuals are so bored by the homogeneity [of what’s available] that they crave something different. They desire something unique and creating your own personal is among the ways. And creating is likewise one of the better methods to challenge society’s existing or mainstream value.”
Over the past 2 years, Wong Tin-yan has been leading to a fortnightly column on woodworking for Ming Pao Sunday, introducing different artisanal brands and crafts folks Hong Kong and Taiwan, where additionally there is a surging fascination with wood.
Unlike Taiwan, however, Hong Kong lacks a wholesome chain of supply and demand. Woodrite, a non-profit organisation which collaborates with designers and veteran carpenters to create table Hong Kong to order using recycled wood, is the nearest to achieving a sustainable business design.
“Obviously, we can’t return to making everything manually due to labour cost and efficiency, but mass-produced products from international brands usually are not always durable and seldom takes into account the tiny homes and humidity in Hong Kong,” Wong Tin-yan says. “A good thing is to have choices from both worlds to ensure each person’s preference could be met with a relevant choice. And it doesn’t matter everything you choose, but understanding the difference between them and why there’s this sort of difference from the cost is vital.”
Start From Zero is never lacking enthusiastic people hoping to grab a trick or two at founder Dominic Chan Yun-wai’s woodwork classes, run through its S.F.Z Untechnic Department.
Inspired by US street artist Shepard Fairey, the self-taught Chan started his street art initiative in 2000. Through the years, the crew, including artist Katol Lo, makes a reputation with regard to their stencil art, cool T-shirt designs and guerilla stickers.
And merely as he became hooked on street art, Chan fell in love with wood after he started obtaining junk wood and taking advantage of it in the work.
“Probably the most appealing thing about woodworking is the fact that whatever I feel of I will construct it immediately. It’s this kind of versatile material and there are so many methods for you to handle it,” he says.
As his skills improved, Chan started receiving orders to make furniture and build installations at events for example Clockenflap and Detour creative showcase.
He has also hosted irregular workshops at Rat’s Cave, the crew’s now-defunct shop in Sheung Wan. These proved so well liked that he or she has create a normal schedule for short- or long-term projects, making from a straightforward clothes hanger to coffee tables, mirror frames and stools in the studio space inside a Ngau Tau Kok industrial building.
Chan says he would stop being surprised if woodworking ended up being a passing fad – a lot of people just sign up to one class, viewing it a fun gathering with friends with dexopky64 bonus of a cool part of Lounge chairs hk to adopt home. But Chan believes that may be not necessarily bad.
“Away from 10 people that were intrigued enough for taking up street art, a minimum of two have kept doing the work. I’ve been at it for the past fifteen years and I’m more enthusiastic about it than ever.”
As for his obsession with woodworking, Chan suspects it would remain with him for about a decade. It’s the medium he is spending nearly all of his time on. And then he is confident once people try their hand at their own wood project, they are going to be enticed by the sweetness and deeper meaning behind each item.
“Right after the last Clockenflap we was required to dismantle this wooden house we designed for the celebration but we saved the wood for other uses. One of those doors now hangs during my room in your own home. Also i created a stool for myself right after the event – which means this stool is like it offers experienced the foremost and second world wars before arriving in my flat. It provides so many stories behind it,” he says. “It’s like, from a piece you made with your personal hands and something bought from Ikea, which may you get rid of first?”
Advocates of any more laid-back lifestyle, the organisers offer a range of urban farming and craft workshops, including sessions on wood carving and turning, to create forks, spoons and rings.