Craftsman seeks to preserve the craft of paper flowers


  • By Wu Po-hsuan / Journalist

Hsu Kuang (徐光), an 83 year old daughter of a “princess of the Qing dynasty”, has a passion for flowers and has devoted much of her life to preserving their beauty through waxed crepe paper flowers. realistic, a skill she hopes to develop. pass on to the 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 noble) during the Qing dynasty, which she said made her the daughter. of a princess of the Qing dynasty.

Hsu said his mother was progressive for her generation – she pretended to be a boy so she could go to school, then quickly cut 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 on her own, Hsu said.

Recalling a vague memory of walking with her father in Taipei’s New Park, later renamed 228 Peace Memorial Park, Hsu said she would pick wildflowers to get in her hair, and that ‘she always had a deep love for them.

However, due to the economic situation of her family, making art was only a dream in her youth, and she only started learning to make crafts after she got married and that her husband encouraged her, Hsu said.

She first learned to make ribbon flowers, embroidery and leather carving, but suddenly fell in love with waxed crepe paper flowers during a visit to Japan at the age of 30, a- she declared.

Hsu spent six months in Japan learning flower-making techniques and obtained a teaching certificate, before returning to Taiwan and organizing classes to teach her 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 organize charity sales with the flowers they have made, Hsu says.

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

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

Each step takes about three to four hours, and each flower takes about 24 hours, not counting sleep or rest, she said, adding that sometimes it’s easy to fail the second waxing 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 that many students often feel that their efforts are wasted when they fail this step, so the profession is difficult to promote.

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

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Rosalie M. Dehner