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The art of craftsmanship is something that local illustrator and author Rain Haze has been fond of from a young age. She made handicrafts like cloth art, resin art, and dolls, until she came across the wealth of traditional craftsmanship that exists in the city. She visited the old masters that shaped the tubes of neon, carved mahjong tiles by hand, and crafted exquisite embroidered shoes. The craftsmen of West Kowloon are, more often than not, silver haired and steel-willed, bastions of the intangible but palpable spirit of the city.
The craftsmen, masters at what they do, make the process look simple. However, each cut and hammer belies the toil and time spent perfecting it. Rain has participated in many workshops hosted by these old masters, and has felt the weight of their legacies in her palm. “They make it seem like it is easy, but it’s not. I tire after just a few minutes of trying to make a copper plate, but each piece takes hours and hours of pounding and heating. Every time I pass by the shop, and I hear the clang of metal on metal, I am reminded of their strength and tenacity,” she says.
Rain recommends visiting some of the old shops in the area while they’re still there, such as Lee Wo Steelyard near Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market, which is the last store of its kind. She also recommends going to Bowring Commercial Centre in Jordan, where two traditional craft shops reside — Sindart, which sells handmade embroidered shoes and accessories, and Shanghai Baoxing Qipao, where a skilled qipao tailor has been sewing away at his workbench since the mid-20th century.
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