Tag Archives: embroidery

Precious rice / Zoe Lulu / Hsiang-Ling Lu

Since few month, I keep in my favorite for this blog a jeweller working with rice. Hsiang-Ling Lu or Zoe Lulu is from Taiwan, graduated from Birmingham (yes another one!) in 2010. Except from her master work in 2010, I can’t find any recent information about her and can’t send an email either. So I don’t know where she has been graduated before. Sometimes, I feel a bit like a spy, trying to find information about people, collecting every single details on internet… Anyway, her work is definitely something I want to talk about in my blog!

As you already know, rice is something very important in Asian culture. China is the biggest producer and seller of rice around the world. On the FAO website, People’s Republic of China is the first producer of rice with 197.2 million metric tons in 2010, followed by India (the next 8 countries are all Asian). China is also the biggest consumer of rice with 156 million metric tons (2009)! Rice is really cheap , and for many people in the world it’s the only thing they can afford to eat. For them, it’s a really precious ingredient, the one that can keeping them alive and feed their family! I still remember in primary school when teachers asked us to buy rice boxes in order to collect them and send them to poor countries.

In Hsiang-Ling Lu’s work, I like to see how, precious metal is replaced by rice. The main material is food! In my latest post I was talking about values, and valuable work. About the fact that Chinese appreciate skills, but don’t really understand critical thinking. Well this is a great example of someone from People’s Republic of China who’s been working on a conceptual way. Asking herself about what is valuable today; what make things valuable for people; and the relation we have in our civilisation nowadays with money and food! For poor people, when they received rice, it’s probably for them more valuable than any kind of gold or object! Her work make us (“rich” people) asking ourself about our consumption and waste of food… and also about our materialist society. It’s not only about making pretty jewellery with unusual material!

“Rice is cheap, small, but vital.
The definition of ‘ordinary’ and ‘luxury’ at different levels of social status is contradictory and interesting. I use this ‘ordinary’ material to describe opulence, and also explore the meaning of value and preciousness in different contexts.”

To make the rice stronger she add resin. Then it’s harder and she pierce it, saw it, etc. I find interesting how with her method, she keep the white and translucent aspect of the rice. As she said in her blog, she also keep the smooth texture of it! I like the patterns created by the grains!  The titles of the pieces are also interesting! With “Madame de Pompadour”, “Rococo frame”,  I can see she has been interested by the Rococo period in France. Which is a really interesting part of our French history. Fashion, architecture, furnitures, etc, were full of precious materials!  The movie “Marie Antoinette” by Sofia Coppola is a really good one to show you how people of the royal court were consuming. Meanwhile people outside Versailles were fighting to have food and survive! And I think it’s sad to say, it’s still the same today! Rich countries are consuming everything, when poor people are still craving for the most important thing: food. In her blog she explains, at first why she made things with rice:

“I just left my home country to a brand new place and my tool box was on its way to Birmingham. Than my mother send me a pack of rice. It was so precious that I would not even eat them.
Rice was my treasure at the moment.

rococo frame blue embroidery details rice piece2-2 Madame de Pompadour's ribbon Madame de Pompadour Large Image-Zoe

Here the link for her blog: Zoe’s Lulu wonderland, and her Flickr about her research.

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nature digital embroidery

Over the weekend, I’ve been really suprised by the nice comments/tweets and facebook sharing about my blog! During summer I thought making a blog about jewellery might be a waste of time… So many interesting blogs about artists/jewellers on the internet, I thought people will be bored and not paying attention to it, especially because I’m not a good blog writer. Words are not coming easily, even if when I’m using French it takes a long time to organise my ideas, and it’s worse when I’m writting in English. Anyway, I’m not the best at blogging for the moment: true, but if I keep going, I do not see why I could not improve it!

Seeing good comments about my blog encourage me to keep writing and sharing! And it’s much better when you share about your passion! I was really pleased to meet through Facebook Heng Lee. A young talented Taiwanese jeweller. After a bachelor in art and design at the National Hsinchu University, he went to the Tainan National University of the Art. In 2011 he has been graduated by a Master of applied art, Metalsmithing and Jewellery.
After our “internet meeting” I was looking at his Facebook page and at his work more carefully. And  I was amazed! The technical skills, especially with the enamel work called “plique à jour” , “cloisonné”, and “champlevé” they are really difficult techniques which need a long time training! I think every kind of skills which involve fire process is quite hard to learn and to master!

Now, the enamel is replaced by embroidery! Heng’s work is a mixture between computer assisted digital patterns and traditional crafts skills. In the “Floral Embroidery Series” he takes inspiration from the Chinese embroidery, which is a very old fine traditional craft. When you see his work you obviously thinking of  pixels. It’s actually what he does: playing with photoshop in order to create a pixel mosaic. Then the shapes are cutting with a laser cutter. After using softwares, computer engineering and new technologies, Heng goes back to the traditional skills by using hand-embroidery to give colour and details to his pieces. I really love the contrast between hand crafts skills and digital patterns!

With the same creation process, he made the series “Download nature”. Here, Heng plays with butterflies images, first downloaded from internet. He compares the pixels grid to the butterfly wing grid, and uses it as  embroidery support for glass beads. The butterfly symbolised the beauty of Taiwan.

Once again, I’m really surprised how a jeweller uses his culture and mixes it with new technologies in order to create something unusual!

To discover more about Heng Lee’s work you can have a look at his facebook page: Heng Lee Jewellery

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