'I live on a farm in Jiuzhou, Jingxi county [in Guangxi province] and I always get up at 6am. The farm has chickens, pigs and a few vegetable crops. Each morning I feed the animals and see to their needs before I attend to my two grandchildren - one is five and the other is seven - who live with me. I help them get ready, prepare their breakfast and make sure they have everything before they leave for school at about 8am. That's when I usually start to work on the silk ribbon balls and other handicrafts. Because of the farm, I have to fit in ball making around my chores. I've become quite well known for developing the 30-petal ribbon ball. The ribbon balls started life about 2,000 years ago and were traditionally a symbol of love between young men and women of the Zhuang ethnic group. They usually have 12 petals. When I was eight, I started making ribbon balls and my father used to say that if he could make a ball with more petals it would be bigger, rounder and there would be more panels for the intricate designs we stitch on them. After many years of experimenting, in 1997, I discovered how to make a 30-petal ball. Unfortunately my father had already died, but I know he would have been proud of my design. The first ball I made was very simple, not like the ones I design today. My family were well-known makers of handicrafts and my father was a very important man in the village because he was the 'head' of the dragon in the dragon dance. It can take about 20 days from design to completion to produce a silk ball. I have a small workshop at home. I have many students from all over the county who either visit me in my home or I travel to their home to teach them how to make the balls. There are hundreds of women across the county making these balls. Today we make more than 200,000 a year, anything from 20mm to 150cm across, and they go to places like Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan and Korea. The balls are usually made using red, yellow and green cloth. You create the panels for the ball by gluing together layers of silk to form a stiff petal shape. Special animal characters are then stitched onto the petals. It's traditional to have flying animals, such as dragons, stitched on the top four petals, while the bottom four panels are reserved for terrestrial animals. This year it will be the pig. The petals are joined together using a complicated double-stitching method found only in Jingxi. The balls are then filled with water-resistant sawdust to give them weight before the ends of the petals are sown together. Sometimes, we'll stitch beads and other ornaments to the outside, depending on how elaborate they have to be. My lunch will be a simple meal of rice and vegetables because I have many chores to do on the farm. We live outside the city so I may have to travel in to pick up any supplies we need. My afternoons are taken up with whatever needs doing on the farm or making silk balls. I really enjoy making them because I am creating something that is beautiful. Their history goes back to the Song dynasty and they have become a symbol of prosperity, to be given at Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. They are also called lovers' knots. In the old days, the young men and women of the Zhuang would gather together in their villages at certain times of the year. They would stand opposite each other in a line and the men would sing to the women. Then the women would throw the balls to their lovers. Back then, they were made heavy by filling them with mung beans, dried corn, cotton seeds or husk; you were throwing the seeds of love. If the men caught the ball it would mean a lifelong bond would develop between the two. I have lots of silk ribbon balls at home and I can assure you, they weren't all thrown to me by young men. The 30-petal ball has made me quite famous. Because there are so many more panels, you can stitch on a lot more pictures. It also means you can make them bigger. The biggest I have made is 150cm across. That took about three months from beginning to end. There's one of my balls - it's about 120cm across - in the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan. My chores finish when it gets dark, at about 7pm. I'll prepare dinner for my grandchildren, whose parents work away from home, and help them with their homework. I'll put them to bed at about 9pm, but my evenings will be spent working on the balls. It's a good life: I have the farm, my grandchildren and an income from making the balls. I'm in Hong Kong to demonstrate my technique and I've created a Year of the Pig ball to celebrate Lunar New Year. It's 150cm across so it's one of my biggest ones. I haven't presented a ball to anyone famous, although I did once have to make 120 6cm balls for the famous Wuchow Song and Dance Troupe. They were needed urgently for a performance in France and I had to stay up all night, although I'm normally in bed by 10pm. So you could say there are silk ribbon balls made by me all over the world: the seeds of love, from me to anyone that has one of my creations.' Huang Xiaqin's Year of the Pig ball can be seen on 1/F of the World Trade Centre shopping mall, Causeway Bay.