Artisan seeks to preserve paper flower craftsmanship

  • By Wu Po-hsuan / Staff Reporter

Hsu Kuang (徐光), an 83-year-old daughter of a “Qing Dynasty princess”, has a passion for flowers and has devoted much of her life to preserving their beauty through waxed crepe paper flowers. realists, a skill she hopes to pass on to younger generations.

Hsu said her mother told her that her grandfather Wu Hsin-fu (吳星甫) was given the title of wangyeh (王爺, or nobleman) during the Qing dynasty, which she says makes her the daughter of a Qing Dynasty princess.

Hsu said his mother was progressive for her generation – she pretended to be a boy so she could go to school, then quickly cut off her long hair when the Republic of China was established in 1912.

Photo: Wu Po-hsuen, Taipei Times

Her mother fell in love with a pharmacist’s son, who was of Han ethnicity and later became Hsu’s father, she said.

Hsu was born in Beijing in 1937. She moved to Taiwan with her parents when she was two, and after her father died when she was 10, her mother raised her children alone, Hsu said.

Recalling a vague memory of a walk with her father in Taipei’s new park, later renamed 228 Peace Memorial Park, Hsu said she picked wildflowers to put in her hair and always had a deep love for them.

However, due to her family’s economic situation, making art was just a dream in her youth, and she didn’t start learning to make crafts until after she got married and that her husband encouraged her, Hsu said.

She first learned to make ribbon flowers, embroidery and leather carvings, but fell in love with waxed crepe paper flowers during a visit to Japan when she was 30, she said. she declared.

Hsu spent six months in Japan learning flower-making techniques and earning a teaching certificate, before returning to Taiwan and taking classes to teach it on her own, she said.

Her works were appreciated by the wife of former Prime Minister Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), Kuo Wan-hua (郭菀華), who invited Hsu to teach members of the National Women’s League, so that she can hold charity sales with the flowers they have made, says Hsu.

However, not many people know how to make waxed crepe paper flowers these days, she says.

Humbly calling herself a “craftswoman” rather than an artist, Hsu said the waxed crepe paper flowers are made from imported crepe paper and must go through six procedures to create: shaping, coating, coloring, waxing twice and varnish.

Each step takes about three to four hours, and each flower takes about 24 hours, not including sleeping or resting, she said, adding that sometimes it’s easy to fail the second hair removal, because the wax may crack if the temperature is too high. high, and it would not be transparent if the temperature is not high enough.

She said many students often feel that their efforts have been wasted when they fail this step, so the craft is difficult to promote.

As a flower lover who hopes to “preserve flowers for eternity,” Hsu said colored plastic flowers might fade, but waxed crepe paper flowers retain their color and vibrancy for many years. years, and designers can freely create their flowers in any shape or color. desire, so she hopes more people can learn the skill and pass it on.

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Rosalie M. Dehner