For Yu Zhaoji, his work and craftsmanship is on edge of extinction.
For generations, handmade cake molds, etched with intricate carvings, represented goodwill during Chinese celebrations.
As the obsolete practice loses traction to modern cake shops and designs, Yu Zhaoji’s 150-year-old handmade mold shop in Guangzhou remains the last bastion to this once glorious tradition.
The shop’s livelihood depends on Chinese families established overseas.
Despite living abroad, a handful of these families are adamant preservers and consistent customers of traditional cake molds. Yu Zhaoji’s craft has had a lasting impact on Chinese populations all over the world.
To create these molds, wood from birch leaf pear trees with fine grains are dried out over two year periods.
The patterns on these molds, emblems of fortune, good career, luck, and prosperity, are painstakingly carved out.
When asked about the key to sculpting quality designs, Yu answers, “To carve out a nice cake mold, you need stereoscopic patterns that are well arranged.
Just like other crafts, if you do this for a living, you need patience and more patience.”