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Mutou Wood Magic Carpentry Workshop

  • Date:2020-04-25
Mutou Wood Magic Carpentry Workshop

  • Name: 老樹根魔法木工坊
  • Year of Establishment: 2007
  • Located At: Taichung City
  • Did You Know That …?
  • The Mandarin name of Mutou Wood Magic Carpentry Workshop stands for "old tree root (老樹根)," and it is named after the village "Shu Zi-jiao (樹仔腳)," meaning "at the foot of the tree." Additionally, the owner's grandfather's name is "Chiang Lao-gen (江老根)," also meaning "old tree root." Therefore, visitors with "old," "tree," or "root" in their name receive free entrance to the workshop.
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Originally a normal wood factory manufacturing a variety of wooden playground equipment, teaching aids, and school tables and chairs, Mutou became the nation's first Wood Tourism Factory and is now a big hit with domestic and foreign tourists. The workshop promotes carpentry creativity and wooden toys and games, so that children are able to appreciate the beauty of wood and trees.

Back in 1979, the Mutou Wood Factory was a family business manufacturing playground equipment and school tables and chairs. Mutou developed more than 40 patents and, at its height, sold products throughout Taiwan; even people from outlying islands such as Penghu and Lanyu would come to purchase products from it.

However, Mutou's fortunes declined after the Sept. 21 earthquake of 1999, which shifted government resources from schools to reconstruction. This, in addition to declining birthrates and a market that had been shrinking throughout the 1990s, meant that the factory's development prospects looked poor. The owners, Chiang Ming-wei (江明偉) and his wife Zhang Bi-tao (張碧桃), starting thinking it might be time for change, and several events led the couple to view their operation from a new perspective.

The first of these was when a foreigner came to the factory, and, after much hand gesturing and pointing to communicate, asked to rent machinery in order to build a bookshelf for his child. Another time, when some of Chiang's friends came to visit the factory, Chiang found his kid gleefully playing with the visitors' children in a corner, making their own simple stools from wood scraps left around the warehouse. These occurrences left a strong impression on Chiang, making him realize that the factory could be shared with the public in ways beyond producing goods, and he began to develop a plan.

The Chiangs took the plunge and began redesigning a major part of the factory and its surrounding area as a tourism site. In 2007, Mutou Wood Magic Carpentry Workshop opened its doors, complete with a DIY Assembly Hall (DIY手動館), Woodworking Hall (魔法木工坊), Wooden Bird Café (木頭鳥咖啡館), Wood Arts Wonder Room (木藝驚奇館), and Puppetry Room (木偶體驗館). It became an ideal place for families, teachers, students, and the whole community to experience and play with various types of wood and appreciate handmade woodcrafts.

In the workshop, the fresh scent of natural wood and the sound of children's laughter fill the air. The DIY Assembly Hall provides more than 300 kinds of wood for children and adults to use as they make their own wood products, including pencil holders, wooden shelves, and small benches. In the Woodworking Hall, seasoned carpenters demonstrate the process of cutting, scraping, and remolding wood into a toy or a utensil.

The Wood Arts Wonder Room features wooden teaching aids, toys, jigsaw puzzles, and other items from countries around the world. The workshop has also created 40 unique brain teaser Burr puzzle (魯班鎖) games to challenge and simulate cognitive skills. Additionally, its outdoor playground has a big treehouse slide, rolling ball platforms, wooden chess sets, intellect-building block toys, and more.

Chiang has said that dreams are the building blocks of humanity and everyone has unlimited creative potential. Mutou Wood Magic Carpentry Workshop provides an environment where children can perform a multitude of manual tasks that are fun and connected to their lives, which can further cultivate their creativity and motivation, while building their own wooden works. Art instructors and special education teachers have commented that the experience at Mutou has been helpful in fostering the development of practical skills and creativity in their students.

In addition to continuously expanding the workshop park, and adding a wooden Beetle House (獨角仙小棧), Three-Section Compound (土角厝三合院), and Grandma’s Garden (阿嬤蔬菜農園), Mutou hosts events throughout the year, including woodworking competitions. Additionally, it fosters international visits from foreign travelers, initiates charity festivals, and attends local exhibitions. Mutou aims to continue its operations as a sustainable creative platform, a place to study woodworking, and a hub of community craftsmanship and cultural innovation.