Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Model-making sparks inmates’ interest

By Hung Mei-hsiu and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Two inmates at Hsinchu Prison serving sentences for gang-related crimes have raised some eyebrows by tapping into their creative side and turning discarded lighter parts into hundreds of lifelike robot models.

The prison on Thursday last week held a presentation to showcase a variety of handicrafts created by inmates, ranging from festive lanterns and dough figurines to grass-woven miniatures depicting characters in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國演義).

The highlight of the presentation were dozens of robot models made from lighter parts by two prisoners, surnamed Kao (高) and Wu (吳).

Kao, who is serving a 10-year jail term for illegal possession of firearms, said he came up with the idea of using lighters to make the models after being fascinated by a similar idea he saw in a newspaper a few months earlier.

Interested in Kao’s idea, Wu, who is serving a 12-year prison term for causing bodily harm resulting in death, offered to join him.

Although the pair had to learn the basic skills required to produce the models from a handicraft teacher, they are now able to work independently and can create one robot in about three hours.

“The sense of achievement we gain from transforming discarded lighter parts into sophisticated toys is something we never felt before when we were gangsters,” the pair said.

Over the past three months, the pair have built more than 100 robot toys, for which they also personally designed an exclusive exhibition area to showcase their delicate handiwork.

The robot models have proven popular with visitors to the presentation, with some expressing an interest in buying them.

However, the prison said the toys could not be sold due to legal issues, but said it planned to apply to the Ministry of Justice for a sale permit to bolster the inmates’ self-confidence.

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