【 Preserve & Rebuild 】
1.What kind of chance do you want to preserve the entwining art (spring flower)? In 2011, Ms. Chen Huei-Mei was registered as the first preserver of the entwining art. Would you tell us about your feeling at that moment?
【 Answer 】
When I worked in an antique shop, a female colleague needed a spring flower for the dance contest. She asked a male colleague to make it for her. When I saw this spring flower at the first time, I felt surprised. After inquiring the male colleague, I learned that Granny Hsieh Chen Aiyu taught him. Later, I asked her to teach me the skills of the entwining art. Then she taught me at the craft institute on Huayin Street. At first, I just wanted to learn the skill. Then I was interested in it. I started to study the difference of spring flower between northern Taiwan and southern Taiwan. The spring flower stood for Taiwan’s traditional culture. The most important part is my commission to Granny Hsieh Chen Aiyu, and I wanted to promote it.
At that time, I never thought of certification, just thought that the craft was very important. A few years ago, an interesting thing happened. When the spring flower was registered as the intangible cultural heritage, I told to people I knew everywhere. A few years later, when He Fang-Chi wrote her thesis, I suddenly realized that not only the entwining art was registered but also I was registered as the first preserver of the entwining art.
2.A few years ago, you have published a book about the entwining art. Recently, you also planned to publish “The Refine Works of the Spring Flower- Sending Blessing through skilled hands.” Do you have any plans to publish the relevant works of video?
【 Answer 】You can scan the QR code to have the access to Youtube. If everyone needs it, we will take it into account.
3.Then, I have another question to ask you. We learn that you have a set of certification standards of the entwining art to let the juniors get the certificate through tests. What’s your opinion about having this certificate standard?
【 Answer 】The teachers are on various levels during the promotion process. By means of certification standards, I hope students can have the responsibility toward spring flower and maintain their skills, so I submit the certificate standards.
【 Inherit & Unite 】
1.In 2010, you founded the Chinese Entwining Art Association. Why do you found the Chinese Entwining Art Association? How many members are in the association now?
【 Answer 】 The concept of founding the Chinese Entwining Art Association is to maintain teachers’ levels and have a history record. The 80 members of the association come from different parts of Taiwan. We hold joint exhibitions and seminars. The members often win the award of design.
2.By means of the association, people from different generations love the entwining art. Do you know how many people select the entwining art as their second career? Where do they come from?
【 Answer 】A lot of craftsmen view the entwining art as the second career. Some will take advantage of the Internet to promote the entwining art. Others open the material shop or run a factory. These craftsmen from different parts of Taiwan have their own excellent business.
3.Do you have any meetings or seminars in the association every year? What are the forms of information exchange and promotion?
【 Answer 】According to the members’ needs, we will hire different teachers to teach and combine spring flower with different materials. The association often texts message by Line and found Facebook of the Entwining Art Association. From 2011, the term of the chairperson is three years. After the first term of the chairperson, I planned to pass down on the youth. However, at that time the association was not steady and needed one spiritual leader, the members asked me to be another term of the chairperson. In March 2016, Tseng Kuo-Fen was selected as the third chairperson of the association. Under his leadership, the association would have a brilliant style.
【 Innovate & Create 】
1.Would you share interesting things when you touch this traditional craft? What’s your inspiration and motivation to create the works of Chinese Zodiac?
【 Answer 】In the early years, I taught students cutting paper, and I asked them if they saw the paper grain, but students mistook it for fingerprint. They had the same pronunciation. After I explained to them, they burst out laughing. I opened a shop at NCFTA in the Year of the Rat. Then I started to make the Chinese Zodiac. I thanked the heaven for taking care of me. The sound of “from the Year of the Rat” is similar to the sound of Taiwanese dialect “form the beginning here”, hoping to have a prosperous future.
2.Among twelve spring flowers, eight kinds created by Mrs. Hsieh Chen Aiyu and you add another four kinds. Spring flower is the basic of learning entwining art. What’s your problem when you create the Chinese Zodiac?
【 Answer 】As to the twining skill, the shape of the deer is the most difficult one, because the body of the deer has angle. My friends even laugh at me because it is difficult. On the other hand, the shape of the horse is wrapped by new materials. Because the angle is not right, I have no feeling to do it at once. I have to pause for a time. Thus, the most difficult one is the horse.
3.You progressively add different kinds of materials into the woks of the entwining art. Which aspect do you want to improve about the innovation of the entwining art?
【 Answer 】The entwining art can be combined with any materials. The material of the entwining art is not limited to paper only. It can be metal and plastic. The shape can be different, not flowers only. The shape may be diverse daily necessities.
【 Carry forward & Promote 】
1.How many countries have you ever been to promote the entwining art these years? What is the content? Are they lectures, DIY or exhibitions?
【 Answer 】I have been to America, Japan, Mainland China and Turkey. I held exhibitions there. In Japan, I also sold merchandises. In the early years, most people across the straits came to visit the exhibition, not foreigners. This time, we went to Turkey, and many craftsmen from 20 countries and Turkey were invited to join the exhibition. For me, I learned a lot from the trip to Turkey, because it was a totally different experience.
2.The news said that President Tsai Ing-Wen brought spring flowers to foreign friends when visiting other countries. What kind of spring flower is it? How does President Tsai know your works of spring flower?
【 Answer 】 The name of the brooches that President Tsai Ing-Wen gave to the countries which have diplomatic relations with us is called “colorful”. The brooches are in a fusion of lily and plum blossom. The appearance of the brooches gave us a feeling of colorful. When the brooches were displayed in the lobby of the Office of President, president Tsai thought the intangible cultural heritage registered by the Ministry of Culture must represent Taiwan’s cultural value. Hence, they chose spring flowers for the First Lady of the countries which have diplomatic relations with us.
3.What kind of feedback did you get from international communication? What impressed you most?
【 Answer 】When we held exhibitions in other countries, the local people there would feel surprised at the works and they were willing to DIY. The most impressed thing is that a professor took his 9-year-old daughter to visit in Turkey. Next day, the little girl not only bought the book but also came to learn the craft. She is very patient and she is good at making. When she wears the earrings made by herself, she laughs happily. The professor said his daughter was interested in making miniature thing, like spring flower, so he took her to come here again.
【 Carry forward & Promote 】
4Have you ever felt frustrated when you promote the entwining art?
【 Answer 】When the students achieve success and win recognition, I am very glad. Nowadays many students are not grateful. Granny Hsieh Chen Aiyu once said that on one wanted to pass onto her all skills of the entwining art, because it was a tool to make a living. I am grateful for her to pass onto her skills. Now the entwining art is my tool to make a living. This is a traditional culture and I have to pass on this craft. Therefore, I hope that students must be grateful for learning this craft. They can’t take it for granted. If you want to continue, you must not forget your origins and be grateful.
5.Finally, would you give some suggestions for those who want to engage in the area of the entwining art?
【 Answer 】Learning has methods and procedures. We need to totally understand the content and then change it. On the contrast, the works lose its taste. We have to give new life of the entwining art, and it can last for a long time. I encourage the youth to join the area of the entwining art. They have different opinions toward the entwining art. In the early years, the twelve spring flowers that Granny Hsieh Chen Aiyu passed down were not limited to the wedding occasions. I change them into three-dimension ornaments or wall ornaments. Thus, I encouraged the young craftsmen to join the activity integrating spring flower into life aesthetics.
We paid a special visit to National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute, Taipei Branch and listened to Chen Huei-Mei’s lecture. Chen not only told the history of Chan-hua and Mrs. Hsieh Chen Aiyu’s story. Chen also told her appreciation toward Mrs. Hsieh. When introducing the techniques of Chan-hua, she emphasized something changeable and the importance of the formula of "loose and tight, loose and tight". This is the secret of traditional culture. She also warned that the young should be grateful. Because of this, the entwining art may have a prosperous future.
Her works combined with crystal and leather. When teaching students in the first class, she always emphasized the usage of red thread. No other colors were used in Chan-hua. This was the respect for Granny Mrs. Hsieh Chen Aiyu. When you fully understood the content and spirit of Chan-hua, you could do whatever you want to do. The procedure of making Chan-hua was not repeated. You need thought and feeling to create your own style.
Her works included insects and flowers, so Chan-hua is an important handicraft. If Chen Huei-Mei didn’t inherit this craft from Granny Aiyu, this delicate and pocket traditional craft would vanish. We had to be grateful for those who contribute to Chan-hua, letting Chan-hua reappear and stand out conspicuously.
When we came to visit Lin Pei-Ying’s Chan-hua exhibition at Zhongshan Citizens Hall, we saw the real Chan-hua works. Different from pictures, we felt astonished at these works. We can’t imagine that it took a lot of time to finish these works. Today we also see Lin Pei-Ying and Tseng Kuo-Fen in person. When Lin introduced her works, the works were vivid. If you didn’t look closer, you would think that they were real flowers. Her works combined with cutting and other animals made of Chan-hua or oil painting. They were as beautiful as pictures. We wished to have one.
The run-down had an opening party and guided tour. Besides this, we expected to DIY Chan-hua. Today we want to make concise brooches. From DIY, we realize that we have to be patient to do it, just like the rhythm of making Chan-hua. Ms. Chen said she could understand the author’s mind from what he/she made. This was real. Although making a Chan-hua is not easy, we can’t make the basic leaf parts, how we can make a Chan-hua. Hence, we need practiced skills, inspiration and attitude.
From this visit, we realize that these predecessors work very hard. They do their best to inherit and promote this traditional craft for fear that it disappears. We appreciate that they have the mission to pass down on the traditional craft. This makes us to design a Chan-hua website to introduce this unique traditional craft. We even want to express something about Chan-hua to foreigners and let them have an interest in Chan-hua.
In order to visit Chen Huei-Mei in person, we got up early and left for Yilan. At Wujie transfer station, we met a crowd of people preparing for the wedding. Among them, we saw a woman wearing a plastic spring flower on her head. Out of curiosity, we step forward and asked her. The "plum blossom of spring flower" worn on her head is for matchmaker. We saw the object in our life and we felt curious, surprised and excited. We took pictures with them and promoted Chen Huei-Mei’s spring flowers to them.
When we arrive at the Craft House of the "Spring Flower", Ms. Chen Huei-Mei treated us with passion. Her sincere attitude made us feel warm-hearted. This made us ignore the bad weather. During the interview, the atmosphere is kind of strict but funny. At last, Ms. Chen taught us to DIY Chan-hua key chains. The making procedure is very fun and easy. We had a wonderful ending after we took pictures with the key chains we made.
It was a wonderful day. Especially for visiting Chen Huei-Mei and listening to her, we understood the secret of spring flower. We hope the traditional craft of spring flower can be existing and prosperous in the future.
We can’t wait to view Tseng Kuo-Fen’s teaching at the Far Eastern department store in Banqiao district. This is the second time we see him. His smile soothes our nervous feeling. In the classroom, he always focuses on his teaching with persistent and warm attitude. We also find some male members participating in this class. We ask him why you are attracted by Chan-hua. He said that when he saw this craft in Kaohsiung, he was attracted by its delicacy. After surfing the Internet, he passionately engaged in making Chan-hua. Then he found that professor Tseng taught in Banqiao and attended the class and made Chan-hua for offer of the Buddha.
Later, the chief of Hakka Bureau paid a visit and said thank you to Tseng Kuo-Fen. Today we see Tseng Kuo-Fen and students making delicate Chan-hua. This makes us feel enthusiastic and persistent. We believe that Chan-hua does not exist through teaching and promotion.