⟨ Craft ⟩

Someday, we will be as tender as plants

Table 77 桌上行 纖維実験所

Words & Photography / MINICHERRYB
Translation / Iris Heung

「心」可以用「柔軟」來比喻,那是我來了台灣後才了解的事。柔軟的高度,再跟上「心」的空間,就是做人的彈性及量度。在焦躁不安的時刻,我們沒需要變得更堅強,但可以活得更像泡過水的藤,以其韌性穿梭於隙縫中,美麗自如。

書聞是品牌桌上行的藤編工藝師,畢業於國立臺南藝術大學的應用藝術研究所,主攻纖維藝術研究。台灣曾是東南亞最大的竹子出產地,所以竹藝師也特別多,但是主要生長在印尼的藤蔓卻因取採不易,在台灣並不常見。但書聞選擇藤編,是好讓她探索竹子較難觸及的「軟柔空間」。

由去年六月開始,我們好像離日常生活愈來愈遠,在不安中度過的日子愈長,內心的恐懼愈在不知不覺中變得麻木。但隨著時間的過去,空間感也有點失焦。第一次見書聞時,我們戴上口罩在咖啡廳對談;第二次見面,在她的工作間,我們都脫掉口罩,喝著奶茶,討論空間、植物和光。

I only got to understand the true essence of a gentle soul after I moved to Taiwan. The level of your gentleness defines the capacity of your soul, which in turn shapes up your character and altitude. In times of anxiety, it is fine to loosen up to take a different rhythm. Perhaps there is something we can learn from soaked rattan. Its endurance and flexibility make the material highly adaptive to all kinds of environments.

Shu Wen is the rattan weaving craftsman of Table 77. As a graduate of the Graduate Institute of Applied Arts from the Tainan National University of the Arts, the focus of her research was weaving art. Taiwan was once the biggest exporter of bamboo in Southeast Asia, therefore a large number of bamboo craftsmen on the island. Unlike bamboo, rattan comes from a plant that mainly grows abundantly in Indonesia, its harvest is not easy, and so it is not very common in Taiwan. The tenderness of rattan is in such huge contrast to the sturdiness of bamboo, and the weaving of such formable materials has really got Shu Wen attracted to.

Starting from June 2019, life in Hong Kong seems to have never been normal again. The longer you live in insecurity, the more numb you feel about your inner fear. But when time passes by, you even start to lose the sense of space. The first time I met Shu Wen for a chat in a cafe, we were both wearing face masks. The second meet up we had taken place at her studio. We took off our masks and talked about space, plants, and light while sipping our tea.

【空間盛載著可能】

我:你看,燈罩根本就是倒過來的水果盤。

書聞:其實是呀!我的畢業研究是Basketry,究竟甚麼是「籃編」呢?我想思考關於空間的問題。空間是甚麼?甚麼是外、甚麼是內?

我:我覺得空間的存在,本身可以視為一種承載,它承載真實物件,也可以是回憶。

書聞:藤這種素材,比起竹子有著更大的柔軟度,擴大了創作空間的可能性。在藤編中的籃編,令創作變得更立體,藤子每一次在隙縫中穿插,模糊了內、外的想像空間,在製作時也承載了不少我的回憶及想像。 

書聞:由方形的底部到鵝蛋形的籃口,這是我對方圓的想像,他們可以是一體的。創作時,最特別是先撿到喜歡的樟樹樹枝,然後因樹枝的姿態去設計籃子,空間包括了時間、想像,還有回憶。

Space as possibilities

Me: Look, the lampshade is basically an inverted fruit bowl.

Shu Wen: That’s true! My graduation thesis was about basketry, so what exactly is basket weaving? I’m intrigued by the idea of space. What is space? What is the inside, and what is the outside?

Me: I think space is a container itself. It can contain tangible things, it can also contain memory.

Shu Wen: Rattan is more flexible than bamboo, which makes many creative ideas possible. Weaving a basket using rattan broadens my creativity. Pulling a stripe of rattan in and out, the concept of inside and outside becomes blurry. Weaving is a process for me to put my memory and imagination into the product.

The basket has a rectangular bottom and an oval-shaped opening; when I think of these two shapes, I imagine them being integrated as one wholeness. The most special experience I had with weaving was a time when I designed a basket based on the shape of a camphor tree branch that I picked up from the ground. Space is connected to time, imagination, and memory.

【植物纖維療癒法】

我:我相信擁抱樹木可以吸收來自大自然的力量。

書聞:可能呀!我就是喜歡藤,你知道嗎?加工後的藤變得粗細精準、順滑柔韌,這工藝還是日本、韓國優秀。

我:所以從印尼、日本再到你手上製作的藤籃,樹木經過很多人的觸摸。由成長到成為藤籃的過程,手的溫度傳到作品裡,療癒力被吸收、也同時被加入,那就是大自然纖維的循環。

書聞:為藤泡水是為了讓它更柔韌,然後才拿來製作藤籃。我會用咖啡、紅茶染色,或是保留天然的顏色。藤編時,心情也慢慢地沉澱下來。在大學時第一次遇到老師的藤編教學,深深地吸引著我。我就這樣一直被藤療癒著。

書聞:在每一刻編織的當下,都是快樂且充實的。

The power of plant fiber in healing

Me: I believe we can obtain the energy of nature by hugging a tree.

Shu Wen: That’s possible! I like rattan a lot. The processed rattan has a perfect thickness and silky smooth surface; I think Japan and Korea really have the best rattan processing technique.

Me: The rattan from Indonesian or Japan has gone through many steps before it reaches your hand. It is a long process for rattan to become a basket; in this process, the warmth of the maker’s hand would be absorbed into the material to become a healing power. I guess this is the cycle of natural fiber.

Shu Wen: Soaking rattan in water can make it even more pliable for being woven into a basket. I would either use coffee or black tea to dye the rattan, or simply keep its original color. Weaving is a soothing experience. I was totally fascinated when I saw my teacher in my university demonstrated rattan weaving. Since then, weaving has always been healing my soul.

Every moment of weaving makes me feel happy and content.

【正午的光都太耀眼 】

書聞:我到台南唸了九年書,畢業後,感覺自己還是喜歡台南。我這台中人就這樣兩地穿梭生活著,我父母常說一個藤籃賣多少錢,怎麼可以讓我生活下去。

我:大部分父母也是這樣呀,這不稀奇,因為愛和擔心。

書聞:也是,但我就是喜歡藤編,所以我把工作室和住家都連結在一起,地下則是咖啡廳。初來台南時,鄰居紛紛來拜訪,當時覺得台南的手作人都很熱情,久了,熱情、溫柔就慢慢退去。

我:太耀眼的光,終究傷害眼睛,那不是溫暖。剛好的光暗,才能令作品看起來更立體樸實。

書聞:所以剛開始,你很熱情,我會怕,哈哈哈。

我: 哦!那沒關係,像編藤籃,是以時間編出空間,光照的地方應如日出日落,熱情及冷漠是可以慢慢被感受出來的。

書聞:就像我好奇有著一百個孔的容器裏可見的空間 、並置在容器內外的交接空間,穿越彼此、同時也阻隔彼此。如孔一樣,它就是孔。

我:人與人之間的疏密,就像透光性,也像你說的「孔」,那個洞怎麼樣的大小,或許就是工藝。

The midday sun is always too bright

Shu Wen: I spent nine years studying in Tainan. Upon graduation, I have decided I really preferred Tainan, so I begin to constantly travel between Tainan and my hometown Taichung. My parents often question how much I can earn by selling a rattan basket. They are worried about how can I possibly make a living.

Me: Aren’t most of the parents like that? I think it is rather normal as they love and care about you.

Shu Wen: That’s true, but I really like weaving. I have my workshop right next to my home, and downstairs is a coffee shop. When I first came to Tainan, many of my neighbors came to visit me. Back then, I thought Tainan artisans were all so passionate, but then it didn’t take long for their passion and kindness to fade.

Me: The sun can hurt our eyes if it is too bright. That is not the warmth that we want. An optimum level of dimness can rather show the genuine essence of an artwork.

Shu Wen: Therefore I was a bit afraid when you acted so passionately at the beginning!

Me: That’s okay. Basketry is a process of weaving time into space; As clear-cut as how things get illuminated by light, there is always a way for you to tell passion and indifference apart.

Shu Wen: This is a container that is made up of numerous holes. The inside of this container can interact with the space outside, but there is still a line between inside and outside. These holes are indeed the opening of a solid object.

Me: The distance between people is similar to the light transmittance, or the holes like how you described. The size of the holes all depends on the level of the craftsmanship.