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Chinese Jade Sculpture

Jade carving is one of the oldest carving varieties in China. Jade is processed and carved into exquisite handicrafts called jade carving. In the process of production, craftsmen can carve jade into exquisite handicrafts only after careful design and repeated refinement according to the natural colors and natural shapes of different jade materials.

Contemporary Chinese jade carving is found in many provinces and cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Xinjiang, Yangzhou, and Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, Nanyang in Henan Province, Guangdong Province, Yunnan Province, Liaoning Province, Shaanxi Province, Qinghai Province, etc. It is mainly made into jewelry, accessories, playthings, and ornaments. With the development of the economy, wearing and enjoying jade carvings has become fashionable again in recent years, and as the price of jade material rises year by year, exquisite jade objects are even more valuable.

According to the National Arts and Crafts Industry Public Service Platform, there are many varieties of jade carvings, mainly figures, utensils, birds, animals, flowers, and other large works, but also pins, rings, seals, ornaments, and other small works. Chinese jade carvings enjoy a high reputation in the world.

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Chinese Jade Sculpture 9
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Chinese Jade Sculpture 10
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Chinese Jade Sculpture 11

Form of Chinese Jade Sculpture Expression

Jade carving design expressions mainly include round carving, relief carving, and perspective carving techniques. Round carving is to express the quality of jade and the subject matter of the work through the actual existence of bodies, surfaces, lines, and other shapes in space; relief carving is to carve out uneven three-dimensional shapes on a plane, utilizing perspective, illusion, and real shadows to create a more virtual spatial effect; and perspective carving focuses on partially embodying a greater sense of layering; the three forms of expression are mutually intertwined.

Color Styling of Chinese Jade Sculpture Expression

According to the texture of the jade, color distribution, and the size and sparseness of the cracks and locks, the design conception (hiding cracks and avoiding locks) will give people a realistic and god-like feeling. Styling is the centerpiece of jade carving design conception and is the cultural connotation to be expressed in the composition of jade carving subjects. A good mood can show the beauty of harmony and give people a peaceful mood.

Production process

I. Design and Material Selection
For jade artifacts, it is difficult to say who comes first and who comes last in the relationship between material selection and design. Sometimes there may be jade material first, and then the jade carving program is designed; sometimes there may be a jade carving program first and then the jade is selected. Usually, it is a matter of material, i.e., the jade material comes first, then the design. The choice of material should be based on the quality and size of the material, and there should be no major cracks or flaws. If the material is chosen for a specific design, it is even more important to select the texture, color, and characteristics to harmonize with the theme of the design.

A good jade artifact should have a high degree of harmony between the beauty of the jade quality and the beauty of the shape, while the beauty of the shape depends on the design plan after careful study of the original stone, so the design is particularly important. Usually, the designers of jade artifacts not only know how to design art, but should also understand the various characteristics of various kinds of jade, such as toughness or brittleness, hardness, chemical stability, crack development, flaw extension, etc., so as to truly guarantee the final realization of their designs, or else they may be halfway to the sky. The design work is not carried out only before the beginning of the faceting process, but often throughout the production process. The designer has to alter the design at any time according to the changes that occur in the jade material during the production as well as the ability and level of the maker, and gradually guide the completion of the production.

Faceting is a major process of modeling according to the design requirements, the operation is usually divided into two sub-processes: cutting and carving.

Punch: refers to a larger area of grinding. With punch blunt (diameter 3-4cm) or diamond grinding wheel will be uneven part of the punch into jade rough.

Cutting: The cutting process is relatively simple, that is, using cutting tools to remove the stone skin and design contours outside the edge of the residual material. In addition, it is necessary to remove any unusable blemishes or dirty spots and to eliminate any “sanding” or miscellaneous stones that may hinder the design, to finally obtain a piece of jade carving material that has begun to take shape. In the jade carving industry, some of the basic techniques in this process have specialized names, such as guillotine and buckle. Guillotine means cutting, cutting away the unwanted parts, and removing the corners; buckle means digging out the dirty spots or “sanding”, miscellaneous stones, etc. This technique is also used for faceting. This technique is also used in the faceting process. Cutting tools are mainly used to cut the role of the guillotine blunt, burin thallium, silk saw, open saw, buckle live machine, and so on.

Carving and grinding: carving and grinding are out of the design and modeling process, the basic techniques and steps are rushing, grinding, rolling, hooking, and so on.

Grinding: grinding a large sample with different sizes of grinding blunts, i.e. the outline of the main parts of the design, such as the head, hands, and body of the figure.
Rolling: is the depth of grinding, that is, rolling blunt rolling out the finer parts of the three-dimensionality, such as the character’s head to open the face, rolling out the mouth, nose, ears, and so on.
Hook: that is, with the hook thallium hooks out the fine part of the fine pattern, such as the character’s hair, as well as bird feathers, dragon scales, and so on. The carving and grinding of the fine details also includes such techniques as withdrawing, tucking, toppling, bumping, etc., so the tools used for carving and grinding are also varied due to their different roles; in addition to the thallium punch, the thallium grind, the thallium roll, and the thallium hook, there are also the skewer hammer, nails, the stick, the flat mouth, etc. These tools are all traditional jade carving tools. These tools are the names of traditional jade-carving tools, which in the past were made of iron and used to drive diamond sand to carve out the jade, and nowadays more diamond-powder-fixed tools are used to improve efficiency.
Jade carving and grinding: usually use specialized jade carving equipment. Jade carving equipment mainly consists of an electric motor working head, a belt drive, a grinding head, a water tank, and a toolbox. The electric motor and the working head are connected together by steel pillars, which can be raised and lowered at the same time. Under the drive of the motor, the belt drive device drives the grinding head at the left end of the working head to rotate, and different grinding heads are used to realize different purposes of carving. Grinding heads are various shapes of grinding tools. Most of them are electroplated drill powder grinding heads, because of their high grinding efficiency, long service life, and inexpensive price.

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Ⅲ. Polishing
After facing a jade object with a good design shape, it should also be polished. The specific operation process of polishing is similar to that of faceting, but the tools and abrasives (i.e. polishing agents) used are different from those used in faceting. Tools are generally made of resin, glue, wood, cloth, leather, gourd skin, etc., which are similar in shape to the iron tools used in faceting or the drill powder grinders, which drive the polishing powder and can also be polished by immersion machine. Dip machine polishing takes longer, about a week or so, but can polish many pieces at a time.

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Chinese Jade Sculpture 13

Ⅳ. Wax and Decoration
After polishing, jade carvings usually need to be over-waxed. Over-waxing is the process of putting the jade carvings into the wax solution, but when the jade carvings are put out of the wax solution, the excess wax needs to be carefully wiped off, especially the concave crevices of the jade carvings, so that the jade carvings will shine brightly. For jade artifacts, over-waxing is not considered to be the end of the process, and it is still necessary to match it with an appropriate wooden stand and a brocade box, i.e., to complete the decoration of the jade artifact before it is finished.

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