Four decades of composing with rattan and bamboo
“Flow, durability, and vibrancy” are the three basic requirements that Chang Hsien-ping (張憲平) looks for in a woven vessel. Flow refers to the overall aesthetics, durability encompasses functionality and structure, whereas vibrancy is comprised of the balance of details, techniques, and materials.
The laureate of the 11th National Crafts Achievement Award may have been born to a clan of rush weavers, but Chang was the only one out of 11 siblings to show passion for inheriting the family business. Taking inspiration from Japanese ceramic vases, he sought to make rush-woven vessels more elegant and refined.
The Miaoli native discovered early on that the sparsely growing native rattan in Taiwan was unruly and hard to harvest on demand, so he took to importing higher-quality vines from Southeast Asia. Chang also sought to incorporate bamboo stripes with rush to create a more pliable yet interlocked type of woven vessels.
Chang half-jokingly noted that his earlier pursuits of innovation were mainly spurred by the need to supplement commercial woven products with artisan crafts to maintain income for the family factory. However, when the business ended with dwindling demand and retiring employees, Chang found new artistic freedom.
He takes particular pride in the natural varnish he uses to complete each handwoven artwork. His penchant for lacquer hues such as dark brown, coffee, and auburn stems from the desire for a “faux vintage” finish, in which the proper application of lacquer can prolong the item’s lifecycle by deterring rot and insects, maintaining functionality, and upholding aesthetics.
Now in his mid-seventies, the relentless artisan continues to seek ways to bring out the coveted qualities of lightness, airiness, and elegance in bamboo and rattan. Chang’s works can be found at the National Palace Museum and the Miaoli Branch of the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute.
Wicker Weaver Chang Hsien-ping
As a rush craftsman who embraced wicker weaving, Chang is a leading artisan who has refined Taiwan’s wicker crafts by using bamboo to create unconventional woven vessels … (read more)