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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
It’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been busy working on my latest project- an attempt at a LFC Cheung Fei lion. The only catch is that I don’t have a black and white LFC head to get the minor details so it was a little bit of imagination and improvisation. I do have a few images of LFC Cheung Fei lions so I had a starting point.
It was great though because it gave me a chance to study some of the other famous makers lion heads. I got to explore and admire the fine designs and intricacies on the lions made by Bo Wah, Bak Wan, Kum Yuk Lau, Lo An Kee, Wong Gar Kai and modern master makes like Yu Ho. It’s so interesting seeing the differences in styles between the various artists and how with a change in colour scheme or use of S’s, C’s, circles, dots, squiggles, boxes etc you can give a lion a completely different look. One things for sure, they’re not famous for nothing. Their work is so top notch that it makes my attempts at keep straight lines and blending the colours look like child’s play.
With the Cheung Fei lion, it’s almost even that little bit more harder because there are only 3 mains colours- black, white and shades of gray. I incorporated green into the mix because it’s worked so well in all the other Cheung Fei lions I see. I’ve seen other makers use blues, golds, oranges which have added pop but I’ve decided against it. The biggest decision I had was working out whether I have a black base or a gray base. I have never really paid much attention to the base of Cheung Fei lion head before!! All I saw was black so next time you see a Cheung Fei head take notice, you’d be surprised at how many of them are actually a gray base with black highlights and the black fur just frames it all together nicely.
I was so torn with the overarching colour scheme of this head that I ended up painting it little by little without trying to do all the white part’s first, and then all the green parts and then the gray parts and then the black parts. I decided to cover certain sections and just see what it looked like. If I liked it, I kept the colour scheme, if I didn’t, I painted over it and started it again. In the end, I’m quite happy with how it looks. It’s still simple compared to say the likes of Bak Wan lions but I think the shape, colours and patterns will set itself apart from others and most importantly it still retains a LFC flavour.
This new year has been another cracking one for all the lion dancing teams in Sydney. Chinese New Year fell on Tuesday the 5th of February. The performances on Sydney started the weekend before and will continue through until the 17th. This year I was lucky to catch a glimpse of a few other teams in Sydney and got to participate in a few shows myself with the Australian Dragon Style Kung Fu Association. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any of the Melbourne teams perform. One observation I’ve made for the Melbourne celebrations is that they seem to start early! Like St Albans kicking off their lunar new year celebrations on 6th of January which is almost a month ahead of the new year and Richmond belting theirs out almost 2 weeks before. Maybe the Melbourne teams can shed some light on that for me.
Trung Han Qun
First off the mark for me to see is Trung Han Qun. They did a wonderful performance for the Canley Heights Lunar New Year Festival. They brought out their LED dragon and a tonne of lions for a show that certainly delighted the crowds. I also caught a glimpse of them on New Year’s Day performing for the banks in Cabramatta. They were pretty much all over Cabramatta in the past week tearing it up with their beats.
Australian Teo Chew Association
I got to see their two lions prancing around John Street Cabramatta.
Qing Fong Lion Dance Troupe
A new team to the area. From my understanding, they’re a part of the Ming Yue Lay Temple (the massive Chinese temple in Bonnyrigg). I didn’t get to see any of their formal performances but I stumbled upon on their training session for the CNY eve performance at the temple.
Sydney Yun Yee Tong
They’ve kept their performances going at the Kwan Yin Temple in Canley Vale on CNY eve for as long as I remember. They had a few lions out dancing with the firecrackers on New Year’s Eve night and then kept the metallic gong dinging away in Cabramatta and surrounds over the rest of the New Years period.
I thought this was a cool shot of them tossing the greens.
Australian Dragon Style Kung Fu Association
My Sifu founded the Sydney branch of this school back in 1988. My Sije Linda revived the club a few years back and it has been growing in strength to strength. They’re still based in Cabramatta after all these years but the club has now relocated to the Cabramatta PCYC so check them out if you have the chance. We had a number of performances around Sydney where we could showcase our lion dancing skills.
Lions ready for action
Not quite jongs but the box jump is real!
Kids love lollies
Jin Wu Koon
I was lucky to catch these guys perform at Darling Quarter. They did a very neat job with the amount of people they had. The team worked so well together to keep substituting to make sure the dancers were fresh. It was good to see quite a few of them knew how to drum, play the cymbals, dance the head and do the lifting!
Chan Family Sydney Choy Lee Fut School
These guys always draw a crowd. I didn’t manage to see a lot of them this year but the little I did see of them was great! As always great lion beats and good to see a huge fraternity of the various Sydney Choy Lee Fut schools coming together for their annual Chinatown parade.
Not quite lion dancing but I thought the Chinese New Year decoration at QVB was awesome. It was a cherry blossom tree but instead of cherry blossoms they were made up of little stuffed pigs
Who would have thought that India has firecrackers too. And they’re just as loud as the Chinese ones. The only difference at least is that there wasn’t the usual big hexagonal bundle of firecrackers that you see with the Chinese versions.
The cost was 800 rupees or about $16AUD for the string
I was fortunate enough to make it across to Macau for a few days over the past few weeks and filled myself up on Portuguese tarts, pork chop buns and other delicious food they had on offer. A big surprise for me was found in the Museum of Macau which is located in the fort right next to the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral. Inside, they have a wonderful collection of exhibits that showcase the history of Macau from the early Chinese and European (Portuguese) settlers through to the modern day Macau with its resulting blend of these two distinct cultures.
One of the exhibits was about the firecracker industry in Macau which I found quite interesting. From the exhibit “The firecracker industry played a significant role in Macau’s economy. The first firecracker factory in Macau was built in 1880. Growth in the sector meant that by 1910 there were already 7 factories, a number that grew steadily providing work for thousand of employees… In the early 1960s, the industry began to decline primarily due to problems in the market and the fact that young people were not interested in learning the trade… Macau stopped producing firecrackers in the early 1990s and now they are imported from various parts of China.”
It’s sad to see an industry come and go but I think the exhibit does it justice by giving us a glimpse of Macau’s firecracker hey-dey with its collection of different firecracker advertisements and packaging.
Imagine the firecracker that was made in this exploding!!
I’ve been deliberating as to which pom poms I should use- an older set I already have at home (the silk fibres are a little squashed) or the newer set that I recently acquired in China. Although the older set has a few less balls and weren’t as full, the colours matched the colours of my head better so for now, I have chosen to use them. I will be back in China in the next few months so I’ll probably get another set that is newer and will work better with the lion.
My next consideration is how the balls should be arranged. I’ve been checking out plenty of other lion heads and getting inspiration from them. It’s interesting to see the variations where the medium sized balls are are placed in the inner ring around the mirror and the smaller balls placed in the outer ring of the mirror. In the end, given I had limited amount of balls, the best combination was not so much what I thought was the best but what worked best with the resources I had. In fact, the original LFC lion head only had one ring of balls around the mirror as well as a ring of balls around the horn. I decided to skip the ring of balls around the horn and instead added the second ring around the mirror.
Actually, now that I am looking at these images, the head is practically done!!! There are a few more finishing touches that need to be added that I haven’t done in the earlier stages like the pillow and the sequined trim around the eyes and on certain parts of the head.