The traditional craft of shell carving has a long history. The delicate shell carvings combine the charm of Chinese painting, the texture of jade carving, and pearl luster, showing a high degree of artistic appreciation.
Xia Yuzhui, who has been doing shell carving for more than 50 years, shared that the shells suitable for carving depend on their color, texture and shape.
He said: “Now, we use 50 different types of shells.”
The process of making shell carvings is quite complicated, from design, material selection, carving and molding, stacking and assembling and other steps.
Sometimes it takes months to complete a shell carving work.
As an inheritor of intangible cultural heritage, Xia didn’t hide to share the details of production.
“First, I draw a draft on paper and then mark out every part of the picture.”
“After that, I cut it into pieces based on the design and then stick the small fragments on the shells that I prepared.”
He said that the last step is to assemble different shell pieces into a whole picture. For Xia, the most difficult part of shell sculpture is the expressions of the figures.
When it comes to what it takes to become a master shell carver, he said that in addition to talent, hard work and diligence are the must.