Craft-ligraphy contains sixty Chinese characters with the radical, "jin" (meaning gold or metal), written by calligrapher Wah Gor on rice papers. Each character is closely tied with our daily lives, customs and culture. Coppersmiths Nathan Wong and Hazel Lee reinterpreted each brushstroke on brass by hand with fret saws, creating one-of-a-kind textures that machine-operated laser cuttings could not replace and replicate, embodying the passions for handcrafted metalwork of the three craftsmen.
Calligraphy is considered to be one of the most important forms of art in Chinese culture.
Wah Gor’s calligraphy stall sits at Portland Street in Mongkok. He recalled that there were many calligraphers in the area, each with its unique writing styles. Since telephones were not as readily accessible in the 1980s, Wah Gor would stay in his stall and patiently wait for customers. Customers would often browse the samples offered by multiple stalls before making their choices. He believed these Chinese calligraphy stalls like his, had silently contributed to the commercial scene in Hong Kong by creating signboards for businesses and government institutions over the years. His stall still stands but would only open during Chinese New Year for his students to practice writing in front of the public.
Wah Gor believes that calligraphy is rooted in tradition, and tradition must be respected in order to endure. His calligraphy is dynamic and full of vitality, as his creative inspirations come from the appreciation of daily lives. Since his youth, he had enjoyed standing on high points or atop a tree to admire the ever-changing skies and seasons and reinterpreting them in his calligraphy. He also instilled his personal feelings to create fonts with distinctive styles. When writing for restaurants, the font will be more rounded; when writing for schools, it will be more steady and grounded; when writing for hair salons, it will be more sleek and graceful.
After conceptualizing Nathan and Hazel's creative framework, Wah Gor created sixty Chinese characters with "gold" as the radical with his sleek and graceful brushstrokes. The calligraphy was then digitized, printed and pasted on a 1.2 millimeter thick copper plate before carving. By drilling a small hole with a pendant drill, a saw blade could pass through the brass. Nathan and Hazel could then carve out each character intricately by hand using a fret saw. Each character has different brushstrokes and complexity, taking an average of five hours to complete.