A leather engraver's meditative craft
Updated: 2016-05-10 11:38
Zhang Yuan works on a leather engraving piece in Changchun, Jilin province, April 29, 2016. [Photo/IC]
Artisan Zhang Yuan is of the post-70s generation, and learned leather engraving from a noted Japanese craftsman. Zhang says that the life of a leather good doesn't start at the moment the leather product is finished, but when the owner begins to use it.
Zhang Yuan is a perfectionist and very meticulous in his work. Last October, he was invited to take part in a design week event in Beijing, and decided to make a unique leather bag. He combined different elements, including Vincent van Gogh's painting Starry Night.
To complete the leather work, 15 or 16 procedures need to be done, and each procedure takes several hours or several days to finish. After more than one month, Zhang produced a half-finished leather work, but was unsatisfied with it. So he started all over again, and went through the dozens of procedures again, including sketching, rubbing, tracing, engraving, decorating the carving, color matching, dye-resistant treatment, dying, color fixing etc. The engravings were done from scratch again too. Finally, Zhang finished the leather work before the deadline and sent it to the design event.
Zhang said, "An artisan's time and vigor is limited, and he should try to do something conscientiously. Artisans should inherit the spirit from the ancestors which is to keep a tranquil mentality and improve your craftsmanship."