What is the dragon’s origin story? In prehistoric times, so much was unknown, leaving answers to our ancestors’ imaginations. Some say it comes from a combination of different tuteng (totems), either or the worship of astronomical phenomena, or the imagination of the celestial galaxy?
A supernatural force, a lifeform aligned with the elements, it is everything and nothing all at once. One thing is for sure – it far surpasses everything you thought you knew about what was within your control.
It is an awe inspiring projection, an energy to be believed in, it is the faith, heartbeat and strength. Through different methods and aesthetics, Liuligongfang has strived to keep the spirit of the dragon alive.
Because the dragon is an extension of our humility and bolsters our faith. No matter how the world changes, uphold it with a genuine heart, with resolution and believe that we will forever soar through the highest skies.
I cannot imagine anything more symbolic of this nation than the dragon.
The dragon’s head occupies the center of the piece as its gaze turns toward heaven and earth. Claws outstretched, it is in command of all. The design draws attention to the dragon’s expression, allowing the viewer to experience both instinctively and visually, the beast’s power in the natural world.
Using a traditional tang cao motif, the design joins the dragon with wind and cloud as it coils and relaxes, both visible and concealed in boundless and perpetual life.
True Believer – Uplift is the largest piece in the series. Using the pate de verre technique, color flows upward through liuli in a clear to amber, light to dark, gradient to convey a modern and enigmatic quality. It takes a highly experienced craftsperson to create the intricate dimensions of True Believer – Uplift as it is a single piece from head to body to tail. Even the dragon’s scales that flow from large to small convey its magnificence and far-reaching influence.
Soaring through the skies Diving through the waters
The dragon’s body rises and falls in the shape of the character 山 (shan, mountain). With a dominant stance, majestic expression and torch-like gaze, the dragon coils with tension upon a yuan bao shaped fount of water. Its beautiful form, commanding air, talent and ambition symbolizes fortune rolling in.
This design draws from classic feng shui principles. Mountains surrounded by water symbolize stability in wealth and home and generational stability; professionally, it symbolizes talent and promotion.
A heaven sent affinity A constant vital energy
Two-thirds of a dragon soaring, spiraling, rising.
We had an idea: a speck of light crosses the sky, insignificant at first glance but as it rises, it becomes clear - it is an illuminated dragon soaring through the sky. After a few rounds, it flies to a far away place. In this design, the dragon’s head is in amber as if lit by the sun. Auspicious clouds surround its form as it soars with a pearl clutched protectively in its claw. This bright and joyous design is conveyed with skillful composition and the idea that heaven and earth are as one. With determination, the dragon reaches the clouds with sights set far and wide. The superimposed circular forms represent heaven and the universe, introducing the presence of a higher faith, a faith that brings perpetual life to each and every day.
With a rising swell the dragon has arrived
In the longest design from this year’s Dragon series, the liuli dragon twists and rotates its body upward. It highlights the water element to embody the saying, “the highest form of virtue is like water”. Bolstered by water, the dragon comes to the forefront, showcasing its impressive stature, benevolence and majesty.
In the ways of feng shui, all life is dependent on water. Ancient people believed that water was the origin of life, that people were born from water and that it determined one’s constitution and character. Because of the importance of water on human life, the art of feng shui places great value on the element. Rivers and streams are referred to as dragons and water is said to have the ability to gather energy that once received by humankind, will give them life and prosperity.
In the firing of this liuli design, different shades of amber liuli are used to showcase the dragon’s noble and complex character while clear liuli is used to create the water. From afar, the design looks like a single simple brush stroke; from up close, the dragon is rich and dimensional.
To honor the heavens, show gratefulness to the earth and show compassion to humankind
The ancient Chinese believed the universe to be a dome covering the land.
In the round form, amber liuli streams flow from inside out, symbolizing the light radiating from the universe. The dragon is robust with eyes wide open and mouth agape to embody the grace of benevolence. Sculpture in the round gradually transforms into relief, a highly skilled technique entrusted only to Liuligongfang’s in-house artisans with ten or more years of experience. What conveys more sincerity than an object respectfully crafted from two hands?
Flowers bloom from grass, virtue blooms from good. Reverence for the heavens, gratefulness for the earth, love for the people - the consonance between human and nature is the message behind Liuligongfang’s True Believer - To Be Dragon.
Never Ending Cycle
Wind stirs water for it to transform into the ancient Tang Dynasty juan cao motif representing magnificence and opulence. From the sculpture in the round and relief techniques, the design places the vigorous nature of life on full display. It is the belief that no matter when or where, as long as the heart is true, auspicious power and energy are yours to have. As the design poem reads: a dance to receive the gifts of heaven and earth, to give thanks to a bountiful return, put your faith in the flowers, trees, and grass for infinite beauty.
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Artist/Founder Loretta H. Yang leads a team of experienced artisans to create arts that honor the richness of cultural heritage and value.
Step No. 1: Design and sculpting
Step 2 of the process involves coating our original clay sculpture in silicone. Layer after layer (3 to 7 layers) is fastidiously coated to produce a negative mold, a crucial step in capturing the prevision of the sculpture. Each layer must dry completely before additional layer is applied, thickness must be uniform to prevent leakage of wax. Once complete, the clay is removed to reveal a negative silicone mold.
Step No. 2: Silicone molding
Pour molten wax into the negative silicone mold.
Step No. 3: Infusion of molten wax. Fill wax into a negative mold.
Once wax has solidified and cooled, release the wax form by carefully peeling back the silicone mold. Like a butterfly molting, the silicon is shed to reveal a positive wax form.
Step No. 4: Shedding of silicon mold to obtain the wax form
A careful refinement of the wax sculpture. Because every microinch and subtlety plays its own role in the grand scheme of beauty. Our artists refine the wax mold to its final perfection.
Step No. 5: Wax form refinement; removing imperfections
The wax mold is placed on a wooden plank in a metal container and plaster is poured and solidified. Embedding wax form with fire-resistant plaster.
Step No. 6: Coating the wax sculpture with plaster to form a refractory mold
Wax is steamed out of the plaster under high heat yielding a negative plaster mold.
Step No. 7: Removal of wax with steam—the essence of the “lost-wax” process
Liuli ingredients are created through unique firing and processing of glass. Color and size appropriate pieces are placed within the plaster and fired.
Step No 8: Choosing color; kiln firing
Fire and melt. Under intense heat, a new vision of transparency and clarity is born.
Step No. 9: Re-firing at 1,400 degrees Celsius
Extreme patience and care are necessary when removing the plaster to prevent damage.
Step No. 10: Removal of plaster mold
When the art pieces emerge, our masters step in to carefully chip away the plaster mold. Like excavating fragile archaeological relics, one false move and you're left with broken shards.
First comes die-cutting - smoothing the crystal down to the last microinch. Rough polish, removal of excess support, refinement and fine surface polish with a high-speed fabric wheel.
Step No. 11: Retouching of details; burnishing and polishing
Our artist refines and re-polishes each and every detail yet again.
An etched number on the base of each piece indicates its limited edition and reminds us to never stop creating. After the engraving - an official LIULI artwork is born.
Step No.12: Final inspection; etching of serial number; packaging