I just happened to have the other Zhang Fei lion hanging about so I managed to take some shots. The Liu Bei and the tails are stored away elsewhere so it’ll take some time to retrieve them.
Almost. I forgot to hook up the pulley system on the inside to get the eyelids to work!I have finally put the finishing touches on the lion. Apart from that, it’s pretty much done! The last couple of bits was to attach the trim and pom poms. I ordered in some sequin – red and gold to add to the lion. I think the sequins add a nice glint which might just catch the audiences’ eye as the light bounces off the lion. The red and gold sequins and the red pom poms against the gold base of the lion really makes the lion pop.
I feel it also has very much the same feel as the other two LFC homages that I have made which is no surprise given I used the same measurements. But good to know nonetheless, especially as I did a little improvisation when following the scale drawings.
Now to find a tail to go with the lion and then stick it together with its two brothers to take a family shot!
I got stuck into it this Christmas break to try to finish the lion head. There’s no deadline for it but it’s been sitting as an unfinished project for some time now and now that I have time, I better make a move on it. Especially as I see the end in sight. I got busy with using metal wire to secure the fur in place and I’m loving what I’m seeing. Out of the whole lion, there was probably one part which stood out to me that I didn’t like and that was my metal wiring for the eyelids. I miscalculated the length of the wire so the eyelids are a little on the smaller size compared to the eye. With the eyes closed, you can still see eye coming through. I was hoping with the eye bristle fur on, it’ll make it less noticeable and if all else fails at least the eye is usually open at rest (once I secure the elastics on).
The next step is to secure the bristle fur onto the lion but I couldn’t help myself and start arranging the pom poms. They’re double thickness so they really do look and feel “full” and vibrant. I was really worried that the lion being a gold and red lion was lacking redness to it but after playing around with the pom poms I think it’ll look great.
Slowly slowly getting there. I’ve made myself some free time to keep working on the lion. I hot glued the metal discs on and the fur. With the last two lions, I only put a small dab of hot glue on one edge of the discs and even though those lions haven’t even been performed in get, just carrying them around and accidentally knocking them around has meant that the discs have gone flying off. So this time, I’ve made sure to use more glue and applied the hot glue around the circumference of the discs so they’ll stay on permanently. For the fur, I decided to use faux fur. It doesn’t look as pretty as rabbit fur but it’s probably a little more animal friendly and what I’ve found with rabbit fur is over time, the fur tends to fall off the skin. I prepared the faux fur in the same way as I would have with the rabbit fur. I cut it into strips with the fur running perpendicular to length of the strip.
I also tried my hand at Chinese calligraphy. I must say, cudos to the professional writers and artists because it isn’t easy! Trying to make it nice and fat to fit out the zhao pai whilst keeping it neat was difficult. It looks a little childish but at least it’s my hand!
I had a pretty productive weekend with painting the lion head. The only parts I have left to do is the top and bottom eyelids after I have attached the fabric section for the eyelids. The only parts I am considering jazzing up are the areas with the red base and gold knife strokes. It almost looks too plain for me but I wonder with the addition of the metallic discs on them if it’s just enough.
Overall, I’m ok/happy with it for my level of painting skill and artistic abilities (read:lowly). Every time I see some of the professional heads made by the likes of Lo An Kee, Yu Ho, Bo Wah or Bak Wan etc it makes me feel like my head is inadequate but I need to put it all in perspective. They’re professionals and have made countless heads. This is my 5th attempt. I’m not aiming for the best, I’m also not aiming for a generic lion head. I’m aiming for something that makes me happy that I haven’t rushed it and have put it my all AND for everyone else, something that might just make you turn your head enough to say, that’s a cool looking head, it doesn’t look like the others, I wonder who made it. What do you guys think?
I’ve slowly been plugging away at this lion head. It’s been slow progress because rather than copy the colours of any other lion head, I have been trawling through images of cool lion heads I’ve seen and using them as inspiration for the colours. The design overall is as reflective as I can of the LFC lions that I have come across. The patterns are more in keeping with the more modern LFC heads with the fluffy sheep’s fur. The overall colour scheme I’ve got going is a red and gold colour. Hopefully it turns out great and so far, I’m liking what I see.
A bit of a lag between my last efforts and now. I’ve finished off papering the lion and putting on the designs. I’ve decided to go with a red/ gold/ yellow design for this one. Trying to get the colour scheme and design is tough though. I’ve been pouring through images of Luo An Kee lions and I’m loving the two tone base as well as the designs. So intricate but alas, I’m going to pass on anything too intricate. My brushwork isn’t quite there yet but maybe the next lion after this will be a Luo An Kee lion- complete with the frame made to the specs that Chris Low has in his book. I can’t wait to get cracking on completing this head.
And that’s that. I’ve finished off attaching the wiring and I’m done with the frame. It’ll be onto papering soon. I must say, the whole process of making the frame including the wiring did not feel as tedious as it did in the past. I finished it fairly quickly and easily too. Some new things I’ve experimented with the process- rather than just cutting the bamboo pieces to length, I sized up each bamboo strip to where I was going to attach it on the frame to make sure the natural curve of the bamboo fit well. I utilised a lot more rattan cane than in the past. I also soaked the strips of cane I was going to turn into rings. This made bending the cane incredibly easy and none of them snapped in the process. I used a combination of micropore tape (for lightness) bind the strips together and used a small strip of rigid brown sports tape right at the end to secure the micropore tape. I think the adhesive on the sports tape is superior and hopefully will last for the ages. Overall, the lion feels light and sturdy and the shape is less lopsided that previous.
In preparation for the next part of the build, I’ve already put an order in on taobao for the bristle fur. I’ve already bought the pom poms from a previous buy so hopefully it all arrives on time. If you’re interested, on using Taobao, use this Taobao guide to help you get set up. They are shipping overseas to a few overseas countries including Australia. Once you’re in, I bought a set of white bristle fur from here and my black set from here. The pom poms I bought from this shop. Eyes, and mirrors here. Once you’re in, use google translate to help you navigate the shop and if you need customisation, the shops will communicate with a program called Aliwangwang. If you can’t read or write Hanzi, get someone who can or again use google translate.
I had some spare time this weekend. Actually, more like I put time aside this weekend to finish the lion. I’ve got momentum on my side, all my equipment is nearby and I can see the end in sight and today I managed to complete all the bamboo sections of the frame!! Woohoo. And I must say, I did it in record time compared to my previous attempts. I like this frame. The curves of the bamboo and rattan are natural (compared to my previous lions where I used more flame to bend them into place) and I felt a lot more confident freestyling with the lengths. I was less precise and secured the bamboo and rattan cane strips to how they wanted to bend and curve.
Next step is the wiring. I may have bought too thick of a wire. I bought 2mm gauge tie wires. It’s definitely going to last and withstand the wear and tear or dancing but it’s ridiculously hard to work with. with the ears, it wasn’t so bad so I’ll see how I go manipulating it into tight corners like the eyelid.