Carving dreams on porcelain

Updated: 2018-05-14

In a 10 sq m workshop there are piles of all kinds of carving tools and porcelain materials. This is where Zhang Shusong, a Jilin native born in the 1980s, creates his ceramic art and draws his dreams.

Porcelain carving is the art of sculpting on plain-colored porcelain with tungsten steel knives and diamond blades.

Zhang was born in an aristocratic craftsman family. His grandparents and parents are all good at paper-cutting and straw weaving.

Carving dreams on porcelain

Zhang works at his workshop. [Photo/Xinhua]

Under his family's influence, Zhang has been keen on making handicrafts since he learned his ABCs. He graduated as a traditional Chinese painting major student in 2009.

He entered a State-owned enterprise after graduation but never gave up his dream of doing art. Six years ago, in 2012, he quit his job and started his entrepreneurship in ceramic carving.

Zhang got to know Sha Lianzhong, a porcelain carving master and folk handicraft artist, at an exhibition at Changchun Cultural Square.

"He was making a porcelain carving artwork. Just with a few cuts a vivid figure emerged on the surface of a piece of china," Zhang recalled. "I was excited and determined to learn the skill from him."

"Sha agreed to teach me after I besought him for six days and brought me to his workshop located deep in the mountains," Zhang said.

For the first three to four months, Sha asked Zhang to chop firewood, cook, and feed the chickens, ducks and dog, testing his patience and duration, after which Zhang began to learn porcelain carving skills.

The first step was observing. Zhang watched Sha carve china for three or four hours a day. Being a painting graduate, Zhang could understand the pictures but the carving techniques were hard to grasp.

Carving dreams on porcelain

A porcelain carving art ware with an opera character made by Zhang [Photo/Xinhua]

He started his first carving practice on fragile ceramic white-ware after three days of observation and repeated the practice every day.

"Master Sha could figure out the carving problems by only listening to the sound during my work," Zhang said.

After a year Zhang had acquired the skills and left the mountain.

As more and more people prefer purchasing unique products, specially made porcelain carvings are popular. Many people bring china and other items they want to be carved to Zhang, expecting a one-and-only piece.

"My work nowadays is interesting and every day I receive different requirements from clients, which helps me improve my skills," Zhang said.

After years of experience Zhang has become one of the masters in this field and he expressed his wish to promote the art to more people.