Learn the craft of making Taiwanese pith flowers with materials made from the plant Tetrapanax papyrifer ( tōngcǎo 蓪草) .
In this class we will learn how to make realistic and colorful Morning Glories. We will study the anatomy of the flower and recreate them using pith paper. A brief history about the importance of pith flowers in Chinese and Taiwanese history will be covered at the beginning of class.The nearly 2000-year-old craft of making artificial pith flowers plays an important role in the cultural history of Taiwan and is vulnerable to being lost. Currently, there is only one practicing pith “paper” craftsperson in Taiwan and only a few pith flower making experts left. Right now, a revival is being championed by the Taiwan Tong Cao Association, an organization dedicated to researching tōngcǎo and all uses related to the plant (which is not limited to just traditional flower making). Irene assists this effort by sharing the art of making flowers with others in America as well as documenting the work of people who are essential to the survival of the plant and craft in Taiwan. She works regularly with Taiwanese craftspeople, artists, wood scientists, conservationists, herbalists and art historians who all volunteer their spare time to this revival.
All skill levels welcome. No prerequisites. All you need is a computer and a good internet connection!
WOO is a non-profit safe space for training underrepresented genders in our field. As such, enrollment is limited to non-binary, trans, and woman-identifying people over the age of 18.
If you’d like to work along with us at home you can buy a kit for this class, by picking either a member or non-member registration titled CLASS WITH KIT MATERIALS.
**KITS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE UNTIL WEDNESDAY APRIL 14TH AND THEY WILL BE SENT OUT 14 DAYS BEFORE CLASS. PLEASE ALLOW 1-2 WEEKS FOR DELIVERY. And just because the postal system is a little wacky right now, we cannot guarantee that kits will arrive before class (but fingers crossed.)**
Materials included in the KIT:
- Two sheets of pink, purple, or blue pith paper
- Two sheets of white pith paper
- One 1”x2” sheet of green pith paper
- Two sheets of green kozo paper
- Paper template with spiky line drawing
- Container of ground pith pollen
- Glue bottle
- Mini spray bottle (fill it with water)
- Neoprene foam (for leaf molding)
- Styrofoam (for holding your flower wires)
- Floss pick (in case you have something stuck in your teeth. Just kidding. Leaf molding tool)
- Green flower tape
- Green wire
- Rock candy stick (flower molding tool)
- Business card
No prerequisites, all skills level welcome. All you need to follow along at home is a KIT, the additional materials above, a computer, and a good internet connection!
Irene Wei is a pith flower maker and furniture designer whose work is deeply rooted in community and culture.
Irene received her BFA in Furniture Design and a Concentration in Nature Culture Sustainability Studies from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has previously worked as a woodworking instructor at a maker space where she also made furniture on commission. In 2019, she was an Emerging Artist winner at the Philadelphia Furniture Show.
Outside of Irene’s furniture practice she runs Pith Flower Shop– a passion project meant to educate people about the importance plant Tetrapanax papyrifer ( tōngcǎo 蓪草) for its uses in Taiwanese traditional flower making. All flowers sold through the site go directly toward funding her research on this subject which has been supported by the RISD Maharam STEAM Fellowship and the Fulbright Research Fellowship.
See more images of her furniture and design work on her instagram @irene.lin.wei and website irenewei.com And find more images of Pith Flowers on instagram @pith.flower.shop and the website pithflowershop.com