Recently, the editor of Watch House was invited to interview Master Xiong Songtao, the head of Beijing Xiong’s Enamel. The watch house editor came to his factory for an interview. The purpose is to appreciate the artistic and cultural atmosphere there and the charm of Master Xiong himself. During the pre-interview preparations, I found some information about Master Xiong. After collating, I felt that he was a pure businessman silhouette in my mind. In this society, any artistic creation in the form of sale actually lacks the pursuit of art itself. But through actual contact, I saw something deeper than the price of enamel from Master Xiong: the value of life.
Watch House: First of all, please introduce yourself!
Xiong Songtao: I have lived in this factory since I was a child. After graduating from university, I have learned the craft of enamel from my father. At first I wanted to find a job outside and have my own business, but my father still hoped that he could inherit this craft and pass on the enamel making process. So I learned from my father in the factory. The actual creation of the bear enamel was after I made the enamel dial. About 03 years ago, we started to develop dials. The reason was that the Swiss brand Athens was the first to sell enamel watches. Later, I felt that since my family also made enamels, I wanted to try it myself. The results are still very good. In 2006, we started to cooperate with Beijing Watch Factory to make the first enamel watch, Die Lianhua for North Watch. After the sale of this watch, it received a lot of attention and pursuit in Switzerland, and the price reached about 1 million.
Watch House: How many years have you made enamel watches?
Xiong Songtao: 15 years.
Watch House: Where did your inspiration come from in the process of making the dial?
Xiong Songtao: As a native of Beijing, many of my inspirations originate from Chinese classical culture.
Watch House: Then you must understand your own classical Chinese culture. Could you briefly talk about it?
Xiong Songtao: The culture handed down in China for thousands of years covers all aspects. A lot of essence can be extracted from every aspect. I personally prefer Chinese Han culture, such as bronzes. The rise of Cloisonne was introduced to China by some missionaries from the end of the Yuan Dynasty. At that time, the Emperor Ming Dynasty liked it very much. Cloisonne once became an imperial ornament for the palace. In the process of making enamel, we also learned some elements from the Ming and Qing dynasties in the shape And artistic concept.
Watch House: What is the difference between Bear’s enamel and other square enamels?
Xiong Songtao: First of all, in terms of color, the characteristics of Xiong’s enamel are obvious. We are used to some new colors. Different from traditional Cloisonne. The materials are all configured by ourselves. Lapis lazuli, turquoise or agate is added to the glaze, and the glaze itself uses the traditional palace glaze formula. The second is the reeling process, which is relatively advanced in the industry. Very strong ability to express patterns. The carcass is basically silver or gold, and copper is relatively rare. The grinding process is also very detailed. A dial requires a combination of 54 craftsmanship to produce a complete work.
Watch House: Do you remember the first enamel plate you made?
Xiong Songtao: Actually, this cannot be generalized, because we are working hard every day to overcome new technical problems, and it is difficult to answer which one of my first enamel plate works, if any, also produced in cooperation with Beibei Butterfly love it! The movement is sterling silver and the technology is mature.
Watch House: Among your many works, do you have a work that you are very proud of? Please give an example.
Xiong Songtao: The Forbidden City series in Fiyta Art Series is currently my own favorite work.
Watch House: What do you think of enamel art yourself?
Xiong Songtao: The enamel craft has continued for more than 600 years since its initial introduction. From my own point of view, it’s very simple, just can’t lose this craft here. From the early days of liberation, the industry began to resurrect. Until now, there has been no major breakthrough. My career in this life is to make a breakthrough in the production of this art. Once our work was exhibited in Yangzhou, a professor at the Qinghua Academy of Fine Arts was very excited to see our work and said to me that he was very excited to see the current development of Cloisonne. From us, we saw the impetus for the inheritance of ethnic crafts. To myself, I am very proud!
Watch House: We can now expand the enamel craft to the case making, so do you have any ideas to expand the enamel culture to more fields?
Xiong Songtao: Of course, jewelry, collectibles, daily necessities, etc. We will place enamel on different items as decoration according to different cultural needs.
Watch House: Do you have apprentices now?
Xiong Songtao: I have apprentices and two.
Watch House: Tell us about your watch!
Xiong Songtao: A watch is a work of art with decorative techniques. Functionally, it may not be the most valued by consumers. It can show its strength through artistic or complex functions.
Watch House: What are the difficulties in making the enamel dial?
Xiong Songtao: In fact, the most important thing is the personnel problem! Not many people are willing to learn this craft. There are only a handful of people who can actually sit down and sit down and make enamel.
Watch House: As an industry leader, do you think the future direction of enamel art itself, or what is the future development trend?
Xiong Songtao: Moving towards the art direction can also help other brands to enhance the artistic value of the brand.
Home of watches: Can enamel culture be in line with European art forms?
Xiong Songtao: Of course, but it will be limited by technology. Some European customers provide the required patterns, but not all can be completely restored on the enamel plate, so it can only be modified and negotiated.
Watch House: Seeing a lot of certificates in your cabinet, is there a story in these certificates?
Xiong Songtao: This golden bottle certificate was given to my father. He was not very healthy at the time, so I made a bottle for my father’s health. The transliteration of the word bottle is ‘ping’, which means peace and security.
Watch House: Tell us about your family history about enamel making!
Xiong Songtao: My grandfather studied enamel making for 9 years. After his apprenticeship, the country was in turmoil. After that, there was no room for survival. So my grandfather went home to farm. During the Cultural Revolution after liberation, the state called for entertainers with skills , Continue to develop their own skills. This was also conducive to foreign export trade at that time. At that time, our country exported the most jewelry, so under the circumstances, this enamel factory was established. At that time, the scale of the factory was not large, only about 19 people. My grandfather made enamel at that time, and my father built the factory while learning the craft with my grandfather. This factory has been in existence for 44 years from 69 to the present. In 2006, my father retired and gave me this place.
Watch House: Compared with the enamel craft 44 years ago, what updates have we made in craft now?
Xiong Songtao: A lot. Such as welding technology, traditional glaze development and so on. As for the glaze, compared to the previous glaze, our current glaze is more transparent, because we have added turquoise, agate or quartz, so that the glaze itself will become more moist, It feels like a jade product and has a stronger sense of touch. The color has expanded from more than 100 colors to more than 600 today.
Watch House: In the color world, which color do you personally prefer?
Xiong Songtao: I like blue, blue and gold. That color has a deep mystery.
Watch House: Do you have any hobbies?
Xiong Songtao: I usually like to write, write, or read.
Watch House: Where does your enamel factory tend to go in the future?
Xiong Songtao: I just want to find a few more powerful apprentices, and want to develop the Xiong enamel factory into a better family history company. For my ancestors, but also to inherit traditional Chinese culture. Can leave something for posterity.
Watch House: What qualities do you think are important in this profession?
Xiong Songtao: I can calm down. It’s not just for making money in this industry. Sometimes, when the economic situation is bad, the import and export trade will be a bit sluggish. . For example, the economic situation in 2008 was not good. At that time, many people advised me not to do this, but I still insisted on not adhering to it, so people should be calm to get things done.
Watch House: How many people are there in your factory?
Xiong Songtao: 80 people. The average age is around 40. Everyone has their own specific division of labor.
Home of Watches: How long does it take for an enamel plate from the initial design to the finished product?
Xiong Songtao: About 2 months.
During the conversation with Master Xiong, you will be unknowingly attracted to him by some kind of temperament. This is not an appearance, but from the conversation you can perceive the artist’s career as a lifelong pursuit and belief.
Sometimes we will encounter difficulties at a certain stage, but whether we can persist is a very difficult subject, because on the path of life, each of us is like enamel, and sometimes we will follow the development of the times and change Change your own value orientation, but you must maintain your own artistic level so that it will not follow the waves in the big wave of society. In this industry, a lot of companies have gone from prosperity to dim, Xiong’s enamel continues the process to this day, where is the truth? I think there are only two words: persist.