Things have moved fairly quickly in the past few days. I’ve finished up with the main shell and the top lip.
In case you’re wondering how I can fit in making my lion in between life, it’s all about planning and creating an appropriate workspace. My set up isn’t perfect but it works for me. I typically work on the lion after dinner and before bed. It’s a great chance for me to relax my eyes from all the screen staring I do and allows me to focus on using my hands. In saying that, I do have my laptop nearby and I’m usually steaming some sort of movie that I’ve already watched and just listening to the dialogue is interesting enough (it you really want to know- I’ve watched The Master with Jet Li, Once Upon a Time in China 3, Last Hero in China, Fight Back to School 1 and 2 with Stephen Chow, God of Cookery, God of Gamblers series etc :D) . All my tools and equipment I need for making the lion sits next to my desk. I’ve got my manual with all the measurements on it on my laptop and from that I decide how many pieces I might attach. And then I get cracking! When you’ve got a movie going on and it’s dedicated lion making time, time just melts away and I get absorbed with seeing the lion shape come to life. It’s very exciting really.
The difference with the lion I am working on now compared to previous attempts is perfecting the shape and reducing the weight. I’ve got the hang of the technical aspect of binding the bamboo strips together so now I am focusing on make sure I choose the right bamboo strips for the various parts so the bamboo curves naturally without me having to use force the bamboo into shape. It has been noticeable particularly over the forehead. My forehead now looks rounded whereas previous ones have some strips bending and weird angles. Fortunately, the forehead imperfections can be hidden away by the mirror and pom poms. The weight aspect will come later when I’m papering but what I’ve found with the Liu Bei and Zhang Fei lion is that they are heavy!!!! They feel the same weight as the original but, it’ll be a form of torture for the performers to wield the lion around for a performance, especially as we’re moving to dancing a few lions together with minimal substitutions (compared to historically with one or two lions danced and 10 fresh subs ready to bust out their moves). I’m hoping to lighten the lion by using 1-2 layers of paper mache less than previous.