Two Brothers United

Seeing these two lion heads together excites me. I feel like I’ve been transported back in time to the lions of yesteryear. Maybe because the first 2 lions that my Sifu brought out way back in the late 1980s when he started the Sydney chapter of the Dragon Style Kung Fu Association were also a Lau Bei and a Cheung Fei lion. But also because I feel that these two lions remind me of the sort of lions I remember when I was a kid watching videos of lions dancing (or fighting) such as in the Wong Fei Hung movies.

It’s all at a good time too because lately, I’ve seen a resurgence amongst the various kung fu and lion dancing groups wanting to bring back “old school lions.”. I’m seeing more lions with colours representative of the old generals- rainbows, black and red, black and white, black, green and silvers, black and gold, as well as longer tails, bristle fur and rams fur. It’s nice that amongst the lion dance community there are still some aficionados of yesteryear.

The next step is to add some more brothers to these bad boys. I’ve got a third frame ready to go! Stay tuned.

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Luen Fat Cheung Cheung Fei homage lion head

I’ve finally finished my homage to a LFC Cheung Fei lion head. And I like it! I think this lion head would blend right in with all the other LFC heads out there.

I’ve attached the pom poms on and I think they pair quite nicely with the colour scheme and the overall look of the lion. At certain angles, the lion looks fierce. But in others, the lion almost has a wise feel about it. I think it’s all in the eyes.

Next job is to pair it up with the tail and see how it looks as a complete package. Now that’s two LFC heads made, I think I’m getting the hang of making these things. In saying that, I wouldn’t want to do it professionally, it’s still taking me forever to get one made.

On reflection of the making of this lion, I was true to the shape of a LFC lion in regards to using the same measurements for the frame but I deviated somewhat with the painting scheme particularly around the horn. I find that it’s still a “LFC” looking heading but uniquely made by me.

Now onto my next project. I’m hoping to make a red/gold/ lion head. I’ve got one more frame that I’ve already made before I need to slog it out with whittling bamboo strips again!

Luen Fat Cheung Liu Bei homage lion head

I just realised I haven’t published this post. This was written in February 2019! But it showed the excitement I had with finishing off this lion project. What a difference one year makes. There I was happy that I finished making the Liu Bei head in 2 years, where I’ve just finished making my Cheung Fei head in 1! I hope my next project will take me 6 months, and 5 projects later maybe I’ll be semi- professional and have lion heads done in 4 weeks! I wonder how long the pros take.

I’m done, I’m done!!!! I’m finally done!!!
I think all up, the project has taken me over 2 years to complete from conception to finding the time to complete it. If I was to put an hour figure on it, I think it would have taken me maybe 10000000 hours because I’m a slow poke. I definitely wouldn’t make money as a professional lion head maker.
I’ve added the finishing touches like the gold sequined trim around the eyes, cheeks etc,  attached the pillow, and hooked up the pulley system.
I cheated with the tail, my textile skills are non existent so I thought it better that I acquire one instead of making it. Fortunately, my 師兄 from Hong Kong donated a couple of old tails that he managed to salvage from heads that have been sent to the afterlife. And the great news is, one of the tails was a perfect match!

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So what’s next? I’ve taken Chris Low’s (of Restore The Roar) lead and am in the middle of writing an instructional book on how to make a replica Luen Fat Cheung lion head. Don’t hold your breath because given the amount of time it took me to make this lion head, it might take a fair bit of time.

I’ve also got another two frames that in various stages of completion. Hopefully, I can make progress on them and create a team of lion heads.

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Bristle fur goes on

I’ve made some progress with putting on the bristle fur and I’m pleased with how the lion is looking. I used metal galvanised wire to attach the fur on. In the past I have tried seeing the fur on and it’s just too time consuming and I didn’t think it held on as well as wire. It makes me think about how much easier it would be having sheep fur lion heads where you could just hot glue the fur on and be done with it quickly.

Without further ado, check out the lion.

Next step after this is putting on the pom poms and I’m pretty much done!

Pom Poms

My pom poms have arrived. I took a leap of faith and hopped onto taobao and put an order through. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to arrive. I know the online stores are generally quite good over in China but I didn’t know how the process would be shipping to Australia. So if you are considering ordering something, then give it a go.

The process can be a little overwhelming but there are a lot of guides online to help you navigate the website. On top of that, with the help of google translate, it at least removes an element of the language barrier. The other barrier that is now removed is the international shipping portion. If you live in certain countries, Australia being one of them, then after you put your order through, the items will be sent to a warehouse, repacked and weighed and shipping charges calculated on the total weight. They now accept credit cards like visa and MasterCard which wasn’t the case last year when I went searching to buy things online. My stumbling block then is not having UnionPay or alipay.

The one big hurdle at least when ordering pom poms is the customisation of the colours. If you’re intending on ordering specific coloured Pom Poms, you’ll need to download a program called AliWangWang where you can communicate directly with the supplier and let them know what you want. The person I ordered off only wrote in Hanzi so you might need to find a friend to help or use google translate to get your point across. And of course you could just send them a picture of what you’re after.

So there you have it, after putting my order in about three weeks ago, it’s finally arrived and I can get on with finishing the lion.

They did a great job packing it to make sure they arrived in Australia without being squashed.

Rabbit fur goes on

I think the rabbit fur has given the lion a more lifelike feel to it. Compared to the original Liu Bei lion that I was working on before, the one change I made is having only 3 rabbit fur rings around the horn instead of 4. With the Liu Bei lion, I put four rings which just looked a bit too bunched up and busy at the front of the horn. Apart from that, I think it looks decent so far. I’ll let some pictures do the talking.

The embellishments go on

It’s finally coming together!

I was quite worried with the paintwork looking a bit too simple so I made a few changes. I added on some minor detailing that is almost not noticeable from afar and probably not noticeable once the fur goes on, but I’m glad I added it- because I can’t unsee it now!

I probably didn’t need to worry too much though because with the metal discs glued on and the sequined trim framing the lion and the rabbit fur yet to come, it will all add up with the paintwork to make the lion look a little less plain.