During our winter trip in Taiwan, I saw some delicate and precious brick sculptures at Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Eslite bookstore. I browsed slowly through the entire section, piece by pice, studying all of the details. All of this amazing work comes from San-He Tile Kiln which was established in 1918 and based in the town of Dashu of Kaohsiung city in Taiwan. When I was young, bricks and roofing tiles were commonly seen, but with the growth of fresh technology and the new generations, the art is almost entering extinction. That’s why I was utterly impressed when I saw the effort the old tile kiln was putting in to bring the culture back into awareness.
在華山時我雖然很想帶回所有的產品, 但最終我們選擇帶回了兩個杯墊, 2011年的虎雕, 及2012年的龍雕。其中我最喜歡的就是今年的龍雕, 英挺的小龍我捨不得把它留在店裡。「設計師因應龍年所發想塑型，取名「酷龍」; 設計師給他的註解：擁有龍族驕傲的酷龍，臉上總是帶著一抹神秘的微笑，配著往頭頂上梳的龐克髮型，是龍界的型男。」酷龍的由來太可愛了, 也讓我再度確認三和瓦窯的每一件作品背後必定有個小故事。我對這個老瓦窯產生了深厚的興趣, 經由這次與瓦窯的工業設計組員許西平的訪談後更瞭解瓦窯轉型的期望與想法, 與你分享。
At Huashan, I almost wanted to pack the entire collection and bring them back to New York with me, but at the end we picked two coasters, the 2011 tiger sculpture and the 2012 dragon sculpture. My favorite was the dragon sculpture, seeing the little astute being standing tall, I couldn’t leave it in the store. “The designer dedicated the sculpture to the year of the dragon, naming it ‘Stylish Dragon.’ It’s a proud member of the dragon lineage, with a constant smirk on its face and a faux-hawk on its head, a stylish one indeed in the dragon world.” What a adorable description! It confirmed my thoughts that every piece of work from San-He has a story of its own. And through this interview with one of the design members, Hsi-Ping Hsu, I learned much more about their transition into the modern world and their dreams for the future. Enjoy!
1. 三和瓦窯的轉型的契機是什麼呢? 是哪一年起步的?
1. When was and what the turning point for San-he Tile Kiln from being a traditional brick tile factory to what it is today?
Jun-Hong Lee , the owner of the tile kiln, grew up running around the brick factory. Constantly immersed in the the architectural brick culture, seeing the delicate carving and designs on them, he truly adores the process of brick making. But as he was growing up, he also saw the demise and decline of this industry. For someone who truly appreciates the art of brick-making, there is nothing sadder to watch. After he took over at San-He, he started to get in touch with people who were interested in crafts. Among these individuals, there were many people from the community and student crafters. Because of his open communication with these groups, ideas different from the traditional brick models started to form, people who were passionate about brick sculpting came together. The true starting point for shifting gears towards the crafting and cultural direction was in 2005.
2. What was the most original brick sculpture from the tile kiln?
Brick sculpting has been around as early as the 1900s when the economy of Taiwan primarily depended on agriculture. The first piece of brick sculpture from San-He was probably the handmade chopsticks holder from Mr. Lee’s mother.
3. 瓦窯的設計師都是怎麼決定下一個作品的呢? 會不會考慮季節或顧客需求?
3. How do the designers at the tile kiln come up with new projects? Do seasons or customer requests come into play?
Our designers base a lot of their concepts on the “fun” factor. We definitely take changing of season and customer requests into consideration, but the designers’ original idea are still our priorities.
4. 磚雕的黏土都還是從一直以來的同一個產地取得嗎? 時代的轉變對於材料的產地及產量有什麼影響嗎?
4. Were you still getting the clay supply from the same place you used to throughout the years? Did change of the era and environment laws affect the clay supply or sculpture production?
We aren’t able to get the clay from the same place because the law in Taiwan prohibits random digging. Most of our clay is purchased from the real estate developers, the amount of supply is actually matching our production rate. But because the clay texture is inconsistent from different sites so some of our products textures vary drasticly.
5. 做磚雕最困難的地方是什麼? 怎麼去克服?
5. What is the most difficult part about brick sculpting? How do you overcome it?
As long as you have interest, patience, and willing to spend a big chunk of your time, producing accurate and polished work is not be a difficult task. Of course, if combined with artistic skills and design thinking, the work would be even more attractive. Honestly, sculpting really is not that difficult, the most difficult part for the whole process is persistence. The persistence to keep trying and making day after day without being defeated by the imperfect pieces.
6. 除了現有的磚雕以外, 三和瓦窯接下來最令人期待的計劃是什麼呢?
6. Besides the existing brick sculpting, what can we anticipate from San-He Tile Kiln in the near future?
The tile kiln factory is a dusty, ashy and congested work place. But the traditional atmosphere in the factory is also what makes it endearing. We hope to use the brick sculpting as the main focus to become the center for people to search for hobbies, productions, culture and education, and to slowly bring San-He Tile Kiln closer to the people’s daily life.
7. What is brick making culture to you?
To the factory owner, Jun-Hong Lee, the brick making culture is a inherited business and a connection inseparable to his memories of the family. To us, the generation that grew up inside of the brick houses, it’s a familiar and easily reachable food for our souls.