Preserving crafts requires creativity

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am

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Traditional handicrafts like embroidery, shadow play and brick carving are dying out because young people are not interested in preserving these ancient art forms.

But some people are doing their best to reverse this trend by injecting creativity into their products.

Su Yingmin, manager of Guangzhou's Tiancheng bronzeware shop, wants to spread his father's bronze-making techniques.

Su's father, a coppersmith who is fascinated with bronze-making, opened his shop in 1998. However, fewer and fewer people have been using products made of bronze. With a declining income, Su's father had to use his pension to support the shop.

To save his father from financial hardship, Su took over the shop and changed its focus.

'I discussed it with my father and decided to sell exquisite collections as well as things that you can use at home. I believe highly sophisticated products made of bronze are a huge attraction,' Su said.

Su has invested heavily to rejuvenate the shop. Not only did he spend a large amount of money on hiring six master craftsmen, he also brought his products to the 2010 Guangzhou International Luxury Exhibition. 'It was a great platform to let the world see our technique, and a lot of the media focused on our shop,' he says.

Since then, Su's shop has turned losses into profits. Some shoppers think the items are too expensive, but Su believes they are worth every penny.

He says that creating hand-made bronze products is time-consuming, and the craftsmen need an adequate income.

'To pass on these traditional handicrafts, we have to consider markets and not just the production technique,' Su says. 'If we can market products as valued collector's items, the art will be preserved.'