By hand, from the heart

An in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple in China are be­gin­ning to de­velop a keen in­ter­est in hand­i­crafts, see­ing it as an ex­ten­sion of their per­son­al­ity and a way to pre­serve tra­di­tional tech­niques

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

Hugo Qiu, em­braced this new trend is Hugo Qiu, a 36-year-old part­time leather­ware maker who owns his brand Muke.

Qiu, who prefers to be called a crafts­man in­stead of the boss of his own busi­ness, first be­came ac­quainted with leather­work­ing about a decade ago when he at­tempted to cre­ate a cam­era cover for his own use. He failed on his first at­tempt.

De­ter­mined to mas­ter the art of leather­work­ing, Qiu did ex­ten­sive research into the craft and self-taught him­self leather­cut­ting and hand-stitch­ing tech­niques in or­der to cre­ate goods such as wal­lets and bags.

Af­ter years of prac­tice, Qiu is now well-known in the leather­ware in­dus­try and his hand­made Muke wal­lets com­mand prices rang­ing from 900 to 2700 yuan. To­day, he spends about three to four hours ev­ery day at his stu­dio that has about 50 types of leather­work­ing tools and equip­ment.

“My items may have sim­ple de­signs but they are made with fine leather and fea­ture in­tri­cate stitch­ing. They can be used for a long time,” said Qiu, who counts him­self to be rather lucky as he has a reg­u­lar clien­tele that keeps him busy with orders of be­tween five and six pieces ev­ery month.

Qiu said that it is the ded­i­ca­tion to cre­at­ing unique prod­ucts of high qual­ity, in­stead of earn­ing in­come from his pas­sion that truly mat­ters to him. He added that he prefers to take his time with craft­ing items so that he can be fo­cused at ev­ery step of the process, en­sur­ing that his clients as well as his own ex­pec­ta­tions are met.

For in­stance, Qiu ad­mit­ted that he is still work­ing on a wal­let that was or­dered by a client two years ago, cit­ing his own dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the prod­uct as the main cause of the de­lay.

“I trea­sure the spirit of crafts­man­ship and this is some­thing that will last un­til I die. I want to make small amounts of leather prod­ucts that hold my feel­ings and ideas,” said Qiu.

“I am al­ways de­lighted when clients send my prod­ucts back for main­te­nance. This shows that my work is val­ued and it also re­minds me why I be­came a crafts­man in the first place.”


Chen Jing'ao works on the keel of his first hand­made boat, which he used dur­ing his mar­riage pro­posal.

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