Friday, November 29, 2019

Taiwan tea plantation workers terrace a new field

Tsai Hsu-chih (蔡旭志) is betting on reviving the industry first — if he generates enough work in the area, he could start training new people to pick leaves as a part-time job. Young people likely won’t be interested, but he could target housewives or older people looking to re-enter the workforce.
He hired workers to terrace another piece of land to expand his farm, and he is in the process of setting up a licensed tea processing factory that can support several farms. He wants to attract students and tourists to learn about this area’s history and try their hand at picking and processing tea, and hopes that his success will influence his neighbors to also revive their plantations.

Staging in the Tea Room

No prizes for knowing what festive season approaches:

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Chinese Baren in action

Nianhua: Chinese New Year Pictures, are a type of chromatic woodblock prints that have a long history dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24).

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Tea time ...

Great: It's Tea Time:
I bought this set from a restaurant supply company in DaLang town, 大朗镇 near DongGuan, in 2005.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Centuries-old printing technique makes a comeback

Letterpress, a centuries-old printing technique, is making an elegant comeback in China as designers, artists and consumers are rediscovering the beauty and craftsmanship behind it.
Gaining a new lease on life

Essentially a kind of movable type printing, letterpress is a technique of relief printing that came into being in the mid-15th century. German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg converted a wine press into a printing press, which turned inked letters into reams of books and remained as the norm of printing for five centuries.
"The movable type printing is our heritage as it was invented by Bi Sheng in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and then was spread to the West some 400 years later," said Peng Junzhang, initiator of China's first letterpress art festival.
Gutenberg's inventions played a key role in ushering in the era of mass communication, adding fuel to the Renaissance and the Reformation, which enlightened minds and permanently altered the structure of society.
In the West, the computer revolution in the 1970s gave birth to cheaper, faster ways of transferring words and images onto paper, dooming the old practice of arranging clunky type blocks in a massive metal press to obsolescence.
After nearly three decades in oblivion, letterpress came back from the dead as its aesthetic appeal was extolled by media personalities such as Martha Stewart, also known as Queen of Domestic Arts in the US. In the 1990s, her weddings magazine began featuring personalized letterpress invitations, giving rise to the revival of the retro-style printing craft.
While in China, letterpress had remained as the mainstay of the printing industry until Chinese scientist Wang Xuan fathered Chinese character laser-photo-typesetting system in 1974 that gradually brought Chinese character printing into the electrical and digital age.
The revival of letterpress has been in full swing in other parts of the world over the past decade.
Josh Durham, a history teacher from the US, and his wife evangelized China's letterpress-printed art movement when they opened the Paper Pounder Press in July 2011 in Beijing.
"So far, there are no more than 20 letterpress studios in China," Peng noted. "The printing technique is still under the radar in China. But I believe it is set to flourish like it did in many other countries."
Having frequented numerous international letterpress festivals over the past few years, Peng was so impressed by the beauty and design of those letterpress products that he decided to host one in China.
His dream came true on October 18 when industry practitioners, letterpress devotees, teachers and students of design majors from home and abroad attended the festival in Beijing, joining their hands to preserve and promote the art and craft.
"People in the cultural and creative industries have found that letterpress is highly valuable to their creations and businesses," said Sun Yang, founder of iloovee, a Beijing-based letterpress studio known for its wedding invites.
"A printing technique that I thought had faded in the back pages of the industry history has come back to life. What a surprise!" said Liang Jiong, associate professor of Prepress with the Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication.
She got a bigger surprise on learning that some artisans have held fast to the art and craft of letterpress printing for decades.
Chang Chieh-kuan is such an example. The 67-year-old operates the famed Rixing Type Foundry which his father founded in 1969 in Taipei.
His foundry is the only haven left in the world that still produces traditional Chinese movable type character molds for letterpress printing.
"But in the 1980s, lead type foundries, the all-time leader of the traditional printing industry, dropped like flies in Taiwan," Chang recalled.
Despite the industry's unrecoverable demise, Chang, calling himself a headstrong fool from Taiwan, has managed to keep Rixing in operation.
It is meaningful to keep the foundry alive as founding played a significant role in the history of mankind's civilization, said Chang, who is transforming Rixing into an interactive museum.
In traditional letterpress printing, founding is the very first step of the whole laborious process followed by checking, typesetting, printing, and folding; the revived technique is technologically upgraded and thus less laborious.
Cha Dian, literally meaning "Tea canon", featuring a letterpress printed cover is crowned as China’s Most Beautiful Book in 2017.

To create a letterpress item, a photopolymer plate featuring a digitally-created design made in Illustrator or InDesign is first customized. Properly inked, the raised surface of the plate then bites into the soft, thick paper made from cotton or linen, under the force applied to an antique press.
The Rixing Type Foundry in Taipei boasts the last collection of copper molds used in the creation of traditional Chinese type characters
The process yields a solid impression on the paper that is stunning to see and feel. However, such a debossed effect could not be realized on thin paper in traditional letterpress printing. Nor is it valued by the traditional letterpress craftsmen and their clients. What they most value is a printer's ability of making sure each stroke of a character is adequately and evenly inked, Chang said.
"The revival of letterpress lies in its marriage with ideal ink and paper, creating an irresistible quality. That's what attracts designers and consumers essentially," noted Liang, who is planning to introduce letterpress to her students aside from teaching them mainstream printing techniques such as lithography.
Thanks to the newfound visual and tactile appeal, an increasing number of artisans are embracing this aged technique.
Featuring letterpress cards with original designs, custom design services, and courses on letterpress printing, a workshop called Wu Fen Shu in East China's Hangzhou has fared well since its opening in June, according to Zhou Zi, the workshop's co-owner.

Zhou is one of the entrepreneurs who are eyeing the market of letterpress workshops that focus on customizing letterpress products and offering hands-on experience on a manual press.
Zhou, a fresh graduate of visual communication design, decided to open such a shop upon graduation with two of her college buddies who are also fascinated with letterpress thanks partly to what used to trouble them back in college.
"We used to commission printing factories to get our designs printed in small numbers, but more often than not, we were rejected as they only took orders requiring at least hundreds of copies," the young designer told this website.
Noting that many more design majors like them have been beset by such a headache, Zhou and her buddies thought about creating a workshop that takes small orders to create convenience for students who are of weak spending power.
In addition to serving students, the 110-square-meter workshop also attracts many who are eager to try their hands on an ancient letterpress machine to DIY their own letterpress items, each paying about 200 yuan to 500 yuan ($28.52-$71.3).
Despite the high price, it seems more people are being drawn to this kind of ancient printing technique. "Some companies even organized their team building parties in our workshop, which is sort of out of my expectation," said Zhou.
The endeavors of artisans and designers have borne fruit as letterpress-printed products are winning more and more consumers in China.
"The beauty and elegance inhering in letterpress have kept drawing people to know about it, and pay higher prices for letterpress products," said Peng Junzhang, a letterpress enthusiast, better known as the king of high-end business cards in China.
who remolded the letterpress machine to make it less demanding and more efficient, applied the printing technique to business card making, which turned out to be a huge success.
"Although the need for exchanging business cards is shrinking in the age of social media, upscale ones, each priced at 300 yuan ($42.45) or more, are in greater demand than those priced at around 30 yuan ($4.25)," Peng noted.
Letterpress-printed business cards made with stylish designs are favored by those who want to showcase their tastes, Peng added.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Teapot sold for one million pounds at auction

5in-tall china pot as being that of Chinese emperor Qianlong, who reigned between 1735 and 1796.
Dukes Head of Asian Art and Managing Director, Lee Young with the teapot.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Friday, November 08, 2019

Friday, November 01, 2019