The Hip-Pop SIGNBOARD CARVER • Craftsman hows How to Make • George Town • MALAYSIA
Master Lee is a wood carver. He creates Chinese signboards and modern art by mixing old traditions with modern methods.
“My name is Lee Chee Cheng. I’m a woodcarver. I love art. I can release some pressure. When you carve up the thing, then you feel very satisfied.”
Creating a signboard involves several steps. To start off, Mr. Lee chooses the wood and prepares it by spraying a coat of paint. After the wood, Master Lee prepares the Chinese calligraphy. He uses several modern tools to speed up the process but still about 90% has to be done by hand – working with the chisel and sandpaper. “We need fast. If you go slow, you can’t make money.”
Signboards are almost always painted in red or black color. That’s because with yellow or green boards, the Chinese letters won’t be visible when – later – they are filled with gold leaf. This particular board is a family signboard but Mr. Lee has also done some modern art collaborations, for example with the street artist, Ernest Zacharevic.
“A person who doesn’t understand carving, the might say, ‘This is olden day’, says Master Lee” ” There are still customers looking for this kind of art. I’m a mixture of olden day and modern day.”