17 June 2013

3D Wool Needle Felting in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

Having a day and a half by myself in Hong Kong reminded me of the weekend I spent adventuring to small towns in Melbourne, Australia during university days. It was my first time to Sham Shui Po, a district notorious for its poor living conditions and immigrant population (Mum was unwilling for me to roam the area alone) and yet famous for its wholesale and retail fashion and haberdashery, Golden Computer Centre 高登電腦中心 and Apliu Street 鴨寮街.

Bored by the dazzling signboards and scary price tags at Tsim Sha Tsui, I was drawn to the humble neighborhood of Sham Shui Po, partly due to the TVB drama serial 怒火街頭 starring Kevin Cheng 鄭嘉穎. Obviously I was nowhere close to bumping into the rugged-wearing male eye-candy in the streets.  My objective was to visit the beads wholesalers to get some beads and fixings that are not readily available in Singapore. However, the dull skies and heavy rain dampened my mood (and shoes)... not forgetting to mention my faulty brolly that didn't kept me much drier. 

Thankfully I found shelter at the 9-storey high Dragon Centre 西九龍中心. I was delighted to find lots of DIY and handmade items at Level 5 and 7 (they named the zones as 'Apple Mall'). It was easy to lose your way in the mazes of small shops with lots of attractive items... and of course gladly part with your money! The more familiar names in the building included McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Wellcome Supermarket. There was also an amusement arcade at the top level and a food court at level 8 with both local and foreign delights. 

One of my favorite purchases at Sham Shui Po is this adorable kitten needle-felting kit (HKD 108). Other than the cuteness, I was attracted by the tutorial video that was being played in the window display -- it seemed simple enough to make when all I needed to do was to stab a long needle repeatedly into a fluffy piece of wool, and then to shape it. (ok, I'll let you know again how easy it is when I finally start with the DIY kit haha...!) I later learned that it's actually a special needle with notches along the shaft of the needle that grab the top layer of fibres and tangle them with the inner layers of fibres as the needle enters the wool. Since these notches face down towards the tip of the needle, they do not pull the fibres out as the needle exits the wool. Once tangled and compressed using the needle, the felt can be strong and used for creating jewelry or sculpture. Using a single needle or a small group of needles (2-5) in a hand-held tool, fine details can be achieved using this technique, and it is popular for 2D and 3D felted work. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felt)

The storekeeper explained that they designed and assembled this needle-felting kit themselves and published it with a local bookstore (there's an ISBN number at the back of the box), and the instructions were in Mandarin. They were kind enough to print a color copy of the English instructions on the spot for me, though they did warn me how inaccurate the English translation might be. If you are interested to get your own kit, they do ship internationally. HandCrafter's website is http://www.handcrafter.com.hk/ As follows, more of their cute handiworks in their window display :)

How to get to Dragon Centre 西九龍中心:
37K Yen Chow St, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, Hong Kong
  1. Take MTR red line to Sham Shui Po MTR Station
  2. Exit Sham Shui Po MTR Station via Exit C1, you would need to climb a few flights of stairs that may be slippery during wet weather
  3. Turn right and walk along the main street Cheung Sha Wan Road
  4. At the first traffic light, cross the street and turn left and walk along Yen Chow Street
  5. You will soon reach a green building and that is Dragon Centre
Tip: best to visit after 2pm on Saturday. Heard that many stores are not open on Sunday and Monday.