Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 10 months 3 weeks ago

This is Phase 3 where I will be collecting research and facts about my topic, which is Wood Carving/Door Making. This will allow me to help me understand my topic better prior to and during the Mircrocampus trip. In Phase 0, I have selected my topic from a long list of possible topics and also sought advised based on alumni's experiences. Then in Phase 1, I put together the knowledge I had about Wood Carving/Door Making and also plan out some of the major questions I will be researching on the Microcampus trip. Recently, In Phase 2, I started searching for helpful sources that will help me with my research. 

Background Information (from Phase 1):

Wood Carving is one of the oldest handicrafts in the world, being around since mankind. In history, humans used Wood Carving in many different ways. Some examples are decorative handles for tools, religious figures place in tombs to protect the dead, and helped people who did not know how to read to understand special events. In the modern world, Wood Carving is used to make wooden instruments, utensils, container, vessels, decorations and also models. [1]

They are 2 types of woods you can carve on, softwood and hardwood. Some examples of them are principally oak, mahogany, walnut, elm, limewood, chestnut, ebony, boxwood, cedar, cypress, olive, teak, and pine. Both softwood and hardwood have advantages and disadvantages, softwoods are easy to shape but are not very durable while hardwood is fairly difficult to shape but have better luster and endurance. Even though stone and animal bones are more likely to survive weather issues, are more durable,  and are insect proof, most carvings are made fo wood because of its fibrous strength, you can carve more detailedly and more precisely. [2] Different cultures use different tools to make wood, some example of tools used in America would be a chisel, gouge, long bent, skew, a parting tool, and the V-tool. All of them, serve different purposes, adding its own precise details.  [3] In China (Xi Zhou) there is 5 main tools Wood Carvers use, including an ax,  even knife, Three angular cutters, Gu Ding Jia, and Wen Dao.  Even though they are different tools, some still share common purposes, for example, the gouge and the Wen Dao both are used to carve curved areas, the straight chisel, and straight knife are both used to straight and flatter areas. This is one of the factors that separates Wood Carvings from different cultures. [4]

In Xi Zhou, the wood used by Wood Carvers are imported from far away lands, such as Thailand, African, and a lot more. These woods are all very heavy and dense. The wood goes through a lot of processes before it can be carved, including using an electric sander, smoothing and getting the basic shape of the art piece they want to make, dipping it into Primer, that does not allow the wood to absorb the paint and developing rust, at least 2 times, using sandpaper to make the wood completely smooth, and coating it Mian Qi which is like a polish. Usually, to finish carving a piece of furniture it would take 6 months to a whole year, it takes this long because everything has to dry before they can move on to the next step. This is why Wood Carvers usually carves multiple pieces at a time. The people in Xi Zhou really focuses on the quality of the carvings, using hardwoods, which I mentioned above, it really assures the durability on the carvings and also gives it a nice luster even though it takes a lot more effort. Some specialty of their Wood Carvings in Xi Zhou is their peculiarity furniture and their wonderful designs.[5] Most individual pieces of art have their own meanings, they can bring people luck, joy, and happiness, they can tell a meaning or a story. For example, Dragons in Xi Zhou represents authority and gives positive flow to the people to the ones who have a dragon sculpture at home, but if you have a dog it means your house would not contain a dragon spirit. Another example is how fish represents man and flowers represented your offspring and your wife, this explains why in the past there would always be a single fish surrounded by flowers carved on the walls of most houses. [6,7]

Information From 3-to-5's

Mr. Tafel

Decorative Wood Carving

- Wood Carvings that is simply used to look at

- Wood Carvings that are used as tables, beds, and closets.

Story Telling Carving

-Wood Carvings that represents past stories

-Wood Carvings that tells the history

Wood Tools

-Wood Carving that people use to do stuff

-Wood Carvings that are used as bowls, utensils, and close hangers.


Information From Local Contacts:

Mr.Yu [9]

  • Mr.Yu, age ?, Wood Carver at Yi Mu Sheng
  • Makes and sells the Wood Carvings
  • Uses recycled materials (Wood)
  • Is a hotel designer
  • Design the carving while he is making the carving
  • Been making Wood Carving 11 years 
  • Came to Yunan in 2008
  • Came to Xi Zhou in 2013
  • Born in Si Chuan
  • Lived his childhood in Li Jiang
  • Wood Carving has organized his lifestyle
  • Ideas come to him as he travels
  • His architect job is different as it includes teamwork and Wood Carving does not
  • Wood Carving express his emotions
  • Does not want to change his lifestyle
  • His art depends on his recycled materials
  • Designing hotels are for people to use it and enjoy, Wood Carving is for people to look at and enjoying it
  • When carving he does not like to make big moves
  • Hobbies include pool, running, Shu Fa, and traveling
  • Learns the method and abandons it as it may not be a great method
  • Wood Carving made his vision clear
  • Enjoys his job and Wood Carving a lot
  • Wants to inspire people from his thoughts
  • He likes abstract art
  • His thoughts are like tree branches as it is very random and messy
  • He would not stop Wood Carving unless he is suddenly physically disabled
  • History of Wood Carving - Bai Zhu started with Mu Gong but then after learning from the Han Zu and the economy getting better, the Bai Zhu was inspired to make better houses with wood, more detailed and designed, as their old designs were very plain made with stone and bricks. Of course during the process of learning Wood Carving Han Zu, the methods were modified and therefore Bai Zhu Wood Carving was formed.

Ms. Wang[10]

  • Ms.Wang, age ?, assistance at Tian Gong Fang 
  • Sells the Wood Carving
  • Big carving takes more than half a year
  • Extra large Carving cost up to 70,000rmb
  • Extra small cost up to 50rmb
  • Median cost up to 7000rmb
  • Small cost up to 5000
  • When products run out, they will have to stop the project they are doing to make new ones
  • Business has been going on for    
  • The boss is Mr.Liu
  • The producers are Mr. Ding and Mr. Liu
  • Mr.Ding has been carving wood for 8 to 9 years
  • Most carvings are made with one piece of wood

Mr. Ding [11]

  • Mr. Ding, age 25, Wood Carver at Tian Gong Fang
  • Makes the Wood Carving
  • Most Woods are imported
  • Not that many big wood pieces in Xizhou
  • His Wood Carving methods are used for 1000 years
  • People are able to customize their own pieces
  • Works 8 hours
  • Wood is good when there is not that much wetness and not to less
  • When there is too much wetness it cracks, too less it is hard to carve
  • Wet is when the wood is fresh when its dry its old wood
  • Wood Carving was passed down from his ancestors
  • Started to work on Wood Carving after Middle school
  • Tian Gong Fang is like a family shop
  • Likes to carve birds and flowers
  • Likes Ping Pong but has nowhere to play it
  • Likes video games
  • The time to make a Wood Carving depends on its design, size and the type of wood it is carved on
  • Talks sometimes when carving less important areas
  • Bored sometimes because he is always carving the same piece of wood
  • Always continues his work because is satisfying seeing his accomplishment
  • Uses Xiao Oil because the tools would not get stuck in the wood and it makes it easier to carve wood
  • Glues Wood Pieces only in emergencies
  • Wants to be a professional Wood Carver
  • It takes 4-5 years to master making a big complex artwork
  • Takes 1 year to master small crafts
  • Comes from Jian Chuan
  • Does not really like this style of life
  • Works from 9 am to 6 pm, 1-hour break for lunch in between
  • Came to Xi Zhou because there are more people here who know about Wood Carvings
  • Types of wood they normally use: Fei Mu, Hong Hua Li, Hong Qun, Qiu Mu, and Qun Mu
  • Procedures for making a Wood Carving: Choosing the wood, designing the model, drawing on paper, gluing on the wood, shaping the wood (making the model), putting in details, sandpapering, and then sell.

Mr. Zhu [12]

  • Mr. Zhu, age ???, Antique Dealer at Si Fang Jie
  • Wood Carving is really traditional
  • There is not a lot of Wood Carvers in the modern day as there are machines which can replace them
  • Most Wood Carvings represents good luck
  • A lot of old Wood Carving has small items in them that tell something

Mr. Zhang [13]

  • Mr. Zhang, age 61, Antique Dealer at Si Fang Jie
  • Wood Carvings has 100 years of history
  • The Wood Carvings he has are from his bosses house or his boss orders someone to make it
  • His Wood Carvings ages up to 10-100 years of history
  • Price depends on the quality size and also depends on the people if people really want it (sells the price for more expensive or if they want it but do not want it (sells the price for cheaper).  
  • Selling items for 40 years
  • Use glass frame in order for the color to preserve
  • Without glass, color fades in 10 years
  • He buys the items in his shops if he likes them
  • If he sells the item he would be happy but if he does not sell it he would also be happy as he likes that piece of art too.
  • When something break, he does not glue it instead he burns it for heat in the winter
  • NEVER regrets his decisions
  • Loves his lifestyle
  • He loves all the 1000 items he had/have
  • His hobbies are to look for items he likes and try selling them

Mr. Du [14]

  • Mr. Du, age 74, Ex-Wood Carpenter (Makes living supplies, chair, bed, closet, and table)
  • Business was good
  • Started Wood Carpentering at the age of 16
  • Stopped Wood Carpentering at the age of 54
  • Passed down by his Jiu Ye ye and passed down to his son
  • Had 4 daughters and 1 son
  • Liked his job but he had no choices
  • The architecture Wood Carvings we see are made from Jie Chuan
  • Now runs hotel 
  • Materials were scarce back then
  • He was really requested so kind of famous
  • Wood Carpentering is really tiring- sweat in his eye
  • His business was really good
  • Life was hard
  • He made furniture for Shang Ga Li La so as his son
  • No other job for him
  • Made with his 5 friends
  • Wood materials change from extreme weathering
  • Worked to 12 pm
  • Learned this craft for 3 years

Answers to Previous Questions (from Phase 1)

1. Are there any conditions that are needed to store logs?

No, there are no special conditions needed to store logs

2.What is the best duration of time for a log to be carved?

The best time to carve a log is when it is not to wet (fresh) and not to dry (old)

3. What is the history of Chinese Wood Carving? 

 Bai Zhu started with Mu Gong but then after learning from the Han Zu and the economy getting better, the Bai Zhu was inspired to make better houses with wood, more detailed and designed, as their old designs were very plain made with stone and bricks. Of course during the process of learning Wood Carving Han Zu, the methods were modified and therefore Bai Zhu Wood Carving was formed.

4. Are they any backstories to Wood Carving?

Wood Carvings are used as decorations and usually had a good luck meaning to it or it is used to tell and show something

5. How long does it take to master the skill, Wood Carving?

It takes 4-5 years to master the big and complex craft and 1 year to master small crafts

6. How is Wood Carving different than other types of art craft?

It is 3D unlike other art types which are flat

7. What was the motivation to start Wood Carving?

It seemed interesting to them and they slowly started to make Wood Carvings themselves / passed down from ancestors

8. Was there a time when you had a fixed mindset about Wood Carving and how did you persevere?

It gets really hard working on the same piece of wood for a long time, but the satisfaction of a completed artwork makes them want to keep working.

9. How has Wood Carving impacted their lives?

It is their way of expressing their emotion and it is how the money

10. Through experiences, what have you learned from Wood Carving?

Hard work always pays of even though it might not look like it.



I believe that I am now ready for Phase 4 as I  already had a lot of experience talking to local contacts I got from the 3-5s and getting outside of my comfort zone. Even though I have only 5 contacts, I believe that I have gathered a lot and all the information I need for my Phase 4.  In this phase, I will be organizing the information I have into a neet final product. You will be able to find this in my Phase 4.



1. Wood Carving- Art History On Demand accessed January 26, 2018 
2. Wood Carving and Sculpture accessed January 28, 2018 
3.  Wood Carving Tools accessed January 28, 2018                                                                                      
4. R_, Sasha. Inquiry Project: Wood Carving accessed February 4, 2018                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
5. K_, Brandon. Inquiry Project: Wood Carving accessed January 31, 2018                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
6.C_, Joanne. Inquiry Project: Wood Carving accessed February 4, 2018                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7. B_, Rachel. Inquiry Project: Wood Carving accessed February 4
8. Mr. Tafel Personal interview conducted by Brandt L., 13 March 2018
9. Mr. Yu Personal interview conducted by Brandt L., 15, 22 March 2018
10. Ms. Wang Personal interview conducted by Brandt L., 14 March 2018
11. Mr. Ding Personal interview conducted by Brandt L., 19, 20, 21 March 2018
12. Mr. Zhu Personal interview conducted by Brandt L., 21 March 2018
13. Mr. Zhang Personal interview conducted by Brandt L., 26 March 2018
14. Mr. Du Personal interview conducted by Brandt L., 27 March 2018

Hello everybody! My name is Brandt L. and I am born in Nagoya, Japan the moved to Shanghai, China when I was two years old. I have been in the SAS community for about 5 years and it has been an amazing and a wonderful time. I have a sister called Vanessa who was part of the Microcampus E group. The 28-day Microcampus experience has been a wonderful experience that I will never forget in my life. I definitely want to visit Xizhou again in the future for the amazing community, scenery, and delicious food!