Thu, Nov 14, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Wood sculptor’s hand-carved pens win awards, while he seeks worldwide sales

By Chang Hsun-teng and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sculptor Tung Cheng-yi carves a wooden fountain pen in Miaoli County’s Sanyi Township in an undated photograph.

Photo: Chang Hsun-teng, Taipei Times

Award-winning wood sculptor Tung Cheng-yi (童正一) said he hopes to promote his handmade wooden fountain pens to internationally to showcase the exquisite craft of Taiwanese woodcarving to the world.

Tung grew up in Miaoli County’s Sanyi Township (三義).

Inspired by his sports-loving father, Tung began swimming during elementary school and his interest in the activity lasted through college, when he was on the swim team of the University of Taipei’s College of Kinesiology, he said.

However, swimming was not the only thing he picked up from his father, who also exposed him to the world of woodcarving, Tung said.

His father, Tung Ching-ching (童清金), has spent 50 years carving wood, and won an award at the 2008 Yulon Woodcarving Innovation Awards, Tung Cheng-yi said.

The contest was established in 1997 by Sanyi-based Yulon Motor Co to promote the beauty of Taiwanese woodcarving.

After his discharge from military service in 2011, Tung Cheng-yi started his career, learning the basics of the trade from his father, whose specialties are human figures and statues of deities, he said.

There are infinite possibilities in woodcarving, Tung Cheng-yi said, adding that he started to develop his personal style in 2017 by making pens from locally sourced wood.

Every fountain pen has its own warmth, smell and uniqueness, as they are carved by hand and fitted with a custom nib, he said, adding that a pen could be an heirloom to be passed down through generations.

Hopefully, the wooden pens will help people to appreciate the warmth that can be felt when writing, Tung Cheng-yi said.

Last month, his pens won a bronze medal and a judges’ award at the “Youth Power — Good Products Selection,” a competition held by the Miaoli County Government to foster youth entrepreneurship.

“The award is a confidence booster and many fountain pen lovers have placed orders for customized products,” Tung Cheng-yi said.

Japanese have a special affection for wooden pens — dubbed “thousand-year pens” in Japan — and take great interest in Taiwanese cypress, a tree endemic to Taiwan that is valued for its wood, he said.

Hopefully, fountain pens made in Taiwan can impress international markets, such as Japan, with their exquisite craftsmanship and high-quality materials, and show the world the strong creative capabilities of Taiwanese craftspeople, Tung Cheng-yi said.

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