The 67-year-old deftly cuts a plank from a massive log by using a storey-high band saw. “We are probably the few, or else really the only, people still carrying it out in Hong Kong,” he tells visitors.
It had been a thrill to find out Wong at work and tour his ten thousand sq ft sawmill, chock-a-block with assorted logs of numerous species, age and sizes. But only a few decades ago, timber businesses such as Chi Kee were common.
Wong and his awesome seven siblings matured playing inside their father’s lumber yard, Chi Kee Sawmill & Timber, which began operations in North Point in 1947 before relocating to Chai Wan and then its current site in 1982.
Nevertheless the timber business in Hong Kong has steadily declined in recent decades as cheap, Furniture hk became readily accessible and manufacturing shifted to mainland China. Chi Kee is a rare survivor in the twilight industry.
It has given Wong much more time for his personal search for sculpture and carpentry. However, he is a lot busier of late after his business stumbled on public attention as one of the first slated to be cleared for the controversial North East New Territories Development Plan.
Intrigued artists and design students begun to seek him out as a previously untapped resource on local wood crafts, and before long he was receiving school visits and holding woodworking workshops.
Whilst the fate of his factory is uncertain (he hopes being relocated to some suitable site), Wong is delighted it has been drawing a whole lot buzz.
“These are crafts and livelihoods worth preserving,” he says. “We ought to think about a society’s sustainability; setting up buildings can only help you get so far.
“When I’m too busy to hold workshops and such, I share my knowledge on our Facebook page which my daughter create in my opinion. I discuss everything, from what several types of wood are fantastic for to using different tools and also the wisdom behind techniques for example mortise and tenon joints [when a cavity is cut into a sheet of timber to slot in another by using a protruding ‘tongue’]. The page has become quite popular.”
However, artist Wong Tin-yan attributes the curiosity about Chi Kee and its particular owner all the into a revival in woodworking among younger Hongkongers as opposition to the government’s development plan and support for small companies.
A skill finish Chinese University, Wong Tin-yan credits outfits for example street art collective Start From Zero and SiFu Wood Works well with promoting craftsmanship and fascination with woodworking, especially among younger people.
Lung Man-chuen of Mr Lung’s Wood Workshop is a pioneer of this movement. The 83-year-old master craftsman started running classes with the help of St James’ Settlement, and 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 learn to make basic furniture pieces, for instance a rustic, nail-free bench. Amongst the latest to talk about 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 curiosity about working with wood. He started creating large-scale animal sculptures using bits of discarded wood while still at university. His school was under renovation back then, which gave him entry to plenty of discarded planks and pallets. The piles of rejects reminded him of animal skeletons, Wong says, and the man has since created various installations to the Hong Kong Art Biennial, malls, museums and art galleries.
These are crafts and livelihoods worth preserving. We ought to think about society’s sustainability; putting up buildings are only able to require to date.
“In addition, i make a indicate host [woodworking] workshops at schools. I want students to feel for themselves particularly in this materialistic world what it’s want to make one’s own furniture,” he says. “To make is really a human instinct and there’s lots of enjoyment available as a result. Consumers are so bored from the homogeneity [of what’s available] that they crave something different. They really want something unique and creating your own personal is amongst the ways. And creating is likewise among the best strategies to challenge society’s existing or mainstream value.”
In the past 2 yrs, Wong Tin-yan has been bringing about a fortnightly column on woodworking for Ming Pao Sunday, introducing different artisanal brands and crafts people Hong Kong and Taiwan, where additionally there is a surging fascination with wood.
Unlike Taiwan, however, Hong Kong lacks a good chain of supply and demand. Woodrite, a non-profit organisation which collaborates with designers and veteran carpenters to create Dining table Hong Kong to order using recycled wood, will be the nearest achieving a sustainable business structure.
“Naturally, we can’t resume making everything yourself because of labour cost and efficiency, but mass-produced products from international brands will not be always durable and seldom takes into consideration the small homes and humidity in Hong Kong,” Wong Tin-yan says. “A very important thing is always to have choices from both worlds in order that each person’s preference might be met using a relevant choice. Plus it doesn’t matter the things you choose, but understanding the difference between them and why there’s this type of difference within the price tag 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. Throughout the years, the crew, including artist Katol Lo, makes an identity for their stencil art, cool T-shirt designs and guerilla stickers.
And merely as he became totally hooked on street art, Chan fell in love with wood after he started collecting junk wood and taking advantage of it in their work.
“The most appealing thing about woodworking is the fact whatever I feel of I could construct it immediately. It’s such a versatile material and there are plenty of ways you can handle it,” he says.
As his skills improved, Chan started receiving orders to make furniture and make installations at events including Clockenflap and Detour creative showcase.
They have also hosted irregular workshops at Rat’s Cave, the crew’s now-defunct shop in Sheung Wan. These proved quite popular that he or she has now set up a consistent schedule for short- or long-term projects, making from a straightforward clothes hanger to coffee tables, mirror frames and stools in his studio space in a Ngau Tau Kok industrial building.
Chan says he would not surprised if woodworking turned out to be a passing fad – a lot of people just subscribe to one class, viewing it as an entertaining gathering with friends with dexopky64 bonus of the cool component of Lounge chairs hk to adopt home. But Chan believes which is possibly not bad.
“Out from 10 people that were intrigued enough for taking up street art, at least two have kept doing the work. I’ve been at it in the past 10 years and I’m more keen about it than ever before.”
In terms of his obsession with woodworking, Chan suspects it will remain with him for around ten years. It’s the medium he is spending almost all of his time on. And he is confident once people try their hand at their own wood project, they will likely fall for the wonder and deeper meaning behind each item.
“Once the last Clockenflap we needed to dismantle this wooden house we developed for the case but we saved the wood for other uses. Among those doors now hangs within my room in your house. I also crafted a stool for myself right after the event – which means that this stool is like it offers experienced the foremost and second world wars before arriving in my flat. It has a lot of stories behind it,” he says. “It’s like, from a piece you made with your personal hands and something bought from Ikea, which would you dispose of first?”
Advocates of the more laid-back lifestyle, the organisers offer a selection of urban farming and craft workshops, including sessions on wood carving and turning, to make forks, spoons and rings.