Wallace Chan: bringing stones to life

Updated: 2016-03-11 12:04

By Hezi Jiang in New York(China Daily USA)

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Wallace Chan: bringing stones to life

The Mighty brooch

Wearing a plain black updated Mao-style suit, Chan wears no jewelry himself. "I like everything, so I can't decide what to wear," he said. "The jewelry I make is for the world, not for me. I am satisfied with these nice clothes."

Because of family hardships, Chan dropped out of school at 13, and his father sent him away to become a gemstone-carving apprentice.

"I was not happy with my work initially. I saw that other more experienced craftsmen were making beautiful shapes that I couldn't," said Chan. "After they went home, I would take their pieces and imitate the lines of their cuts for hours."

He often stayed at the workshop past midnight. Within three months, his work was outshining others who had been at it for years.

"I started to get into the inside world of gems," said Chan with a gesture of holding a knife. "You never know what the next layer is going to be like in a stone. When you carve jade, some green color or a crack might suddenly appear."

If the color does change, Chan's design immediately changes with it. If when carving a man a green color appeared, he would give the man a fishing pole leading to a green fish. If a color wasn't good in the face of a girl, he would put a hat or a floral wreath on her head.

"You have to follow the inside of each stone," said Chan. "Once, it took us eight months to make a white jade vase with the pattern of a hundred birds. We finished carving and our master worked on hollowing out the stone to make it a vase.