Paper at Its Most Perfect

Paper Sculptor Hung Hsinfu
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2019 / July

Lee Shan Wei /photos courtesy of Fufong Cultures Publishing Ltd. /tr. by Phil Newell


He became fascinated with paper at four years of age because of a paper airplane. Now, nearly half a century later, he has received countless patents for his innovative paper art. He has continually refined his work, seeking the highest achievements in paper art. Hung Hsinfu has integrated invention into his life, with helping others as his main motivation. He selflessly shares his creative ideas, and he uses games to activate people’s powers of observation, in order to achieve the goal of self-directed learning. Named one of “Taiwan’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons” in 2003, he achieved his wish to “show filial piety by honoring his family’s name.” Declaring himself to be an “instrument of society” and an “eternal cultural volunteer,” he has also repaid the land that raised him with honor and glory, creating a Taiwan legend through paper art.


 

A paper airplane

“I have been playful ever since I was small, but I never expected that playing around would result in anything remarkable.” During his childhood half a century ago, toys sold in stores were unattainable luxury items for Hung. “The easiest thing to get was calendar paper, which I folded into paper airplanes.” Hung continually practiced and made improvements. His little planes didn’t just have to fly, they had to fly high and far.

Walking into his crowded workshop, Hung sits down and immediately takes out a square piece of colored paper. He skillfully twists and connects the die-cut edges, and in an instant a pink paper mouse appears. Hung then takes a small marble out of the pocket of what he calls his “battle dress” and puts it into the belly of the paper mouse. Like magic the previously stationary mouse begins to run rapidly as the flat board beneath it sways. News of these simple yet fun toys spread by word of mouth, and in three years he sold 100,000 of them.

“The patent for this innovation in fact was the result of a little trick born out of necessity.” When Hung first went into business he was living hand to mouth, and friends took turns in inviting him over for meals. Because he could not afford to bring gifts, he had to rack his brains to amuse their children. He used a technique employing the flexibility and shapeability of folded paper to make a flat piece of paper three-dimensional, and then applied principles based on the laws of physics to make it move, transforming it from static to dynamic.

In his display case, filled with beautiful things, one can see everywhere the results of Hung ­Hsinfu’s endeavors. There is a lively cartoon-style monkey with outstretched arms that, when operated with the aid of a string, can turn forward and backward somersaults over and under a bar. Pointing at another item, he says: “I put a lot of thought into this lamb.” When placed on an inclined surface, the happy-looking lamb will walk toward you, swaying back and forth. His ability to make things move without batteries shows how Hung integrates knowledge into daily life through play.

A fixed ambition

“My grandfather Hung Wan-mei ran a candle business, and was said to have once been the richest man on Di­hua Street.” But the perceptive old gentleman preferred to use his money to help the poor rather than pamper his children and grandchildren. “Each of the last three genera­tions of my family has made their own way from scratch, and I’m teaching my children that they should do so too.” Hung began doing part-time work from when he was a young child. “A man has to have a sense of responsibility. First you have to be able to support yourself, next you have to be able to support your parents, and only then can you speak of getting married and having children.” Teaching by example rather than words, Hung and his wife are of one mind in making filial piety a priority, emphasizing the family, and promoting a spirit of loyalty, self-sacrifice, and trust­worthiness. “I believe these traditional core values are the most important cornerstones in life.”

Hung had outstanding grades in school from when he was small, but when he took the high-school entrance exam he deliberately scored below the marks needed to get into a top high school, because he wanted to learn a skill as quickly as possible. He then entered a five-year junior college (today’s Shih Hsin University), aiming to start his own business after graduation. “I promised my father that I would definitely get a job offer before I graduated, and only then did he permit me to enroll in the junior college.” While in school, Hung used his skill at paper folding to become an instructor for hobby clubs. He gathered together a group of likeminded classmates, and got to know benefactors and supporters such as teachers and the director of the ­Hsiao Hsi Yuan Puppet Theater.

“Don’t assume that playing is a bad thing. So long as you’re sure of your direction, you can have a beauti­ful life through play.” In his five years of playing at Shih Hsin, Hung learned how to approach tasks and get things done, how to express himself, and leadership. “In fact I built up my business as I studied.” Through one learning experience after another, the once shy and stuttering Hung became a talkative paper-art magician. Before graduating he won a bronze medal in a national card design competition, produced popup cards, and published a collection of his works from over the years, thereby fulfilling his promise to his father.

No end to studying

“I’m grateful that I had so many renowned teachers to guide me,” says Hung, to whom they were like a walking cane in a deep valley or a support on a steep precipice. “It is the natural vocation of a teacher to become a stepping-­stone for students.” This statement by Weng Shen-lung, known as the father of paper art in Taiwan, has become a maxim for Hung ­Hsinfu. He has always given everything he has in teaching his students.

Hung is not tall in stature, but his ambitions were higher than the sky: he wanted to become not only a professional, but a master of his craft. “Paper art is a very broad field, and there really are no limits to what you can learn.”

“What my teachers taught me was not only technique, but also the concept of treasuring one’s work, as they took this maverick and trained me by example.” The motivation for learning must come from the heart, as only then can one truly comprehend what is being taught, and go on to completely reshape oneself.

Breaking the mold

“I use my name card to get people’s attention.” When folded, this 3D paper-sculpture name card looks like a nautilus, but when opened up it becomes an upside-­down universe, a metaphor full of depth and playfulness. “This leaves a deep impression on people as soon as they see it,” says Hung, successfully creating a positive image for himself as a paper artist.

In hopes of making paper sculpting more accessible to the public and enabling it to be mass-produced, Hung thought up the idea of having shapes cut out using dies, so that anyone can assemble sculptures for themselves without the need for a specialized hobby knife. Thus people can make the Lantern Festival hand lanterns that local governments have been giving out for many years. “My first die-cut work was a wedding invitation for my sister.” Over the past 30 years he has experimented with using different dies to create products, becoming a genu­ine eyewitness to the advances in his industry.

Hung pursues perfection in his works in hopes that paper art will come to be collected, like other forms of art. “Sometimes being too realistic can be problem too.” His extremely lifelike “Hung’s paper butterfly” sparked an outcry among environmentalists. His “military weaponry” series, designed at the request of the ROC Army, required more than a year for the design of each piece.

“Don’t be limited by established frameworks.” Hung, who continually has new ideas popping into his head, is like a curious child. Whether it be building blocks, toy guns, clocks, watches, or any kind of everyday object, in his eyes each is worth studying. “I most enjoy strolling through flea markets.” He finds odd old things, which he then continually dismantles and rebuilds, and which become the basis for new creations.

A toymakers’ hall

In 2003, at the recommendation of Hsu Kuo-­liang, director of the ­Hsiao Hsi Yuan Puppet Theater, Hung was named one of Taiwan’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons. “I’m just an ordinary son of Taiwan, and it’s because I’m ordinary that my work resonates with people.” Hung, who jokes that he was always half a beat behind others in learning, had auda­cious dreams, but he has conscientiously worked one step at a time to make those dreams a reality.

“All of my success goes back to my childhood dreams.” The pop-up books he so admired as a child inspired Hung’s imagination, and the “Stunning Pop-Up Books” expo held in Tai­pei in 2012 attracted 240,000 visitors. In 2013, in the plaza outside Tai­chung City Hall, a pop-up book totaling 106 meters in length, with 148 double-page spreads—the collective creation of more than 70 art teachers—went on display, and successfully set a Guinness world record, to the cheers of the crowd.

“Using fasteners makes it possible for pop-up books to be extended without limit.” The mindset of finding inspiration in daily life and of educating while entertaining set down firm roots at this event. “I hope to make complex things simple, and bring dull formulas to life.” Hung uses mathemat­ical formulas to construct educational pop-up books, so that children can learn in a joyful way. 

“My next dream is to build a ‘toymakers’ hall.’” Hung ­Hsinfu, who found success in the midst of failure, understands deeply that if you just work hard and earnestly, without worrying about success or failure, Fate will always give you a chance. “Things you make with your hands are an extension of life.” Hung hopes that everyone can learn by doing at the “toymakers’ hall.” “The process is more important than the outcome,” he says. Linking hands and minds can produce even more possibilities, just as he himself has achieved the goal of bringing paper to its highest state of perfection.

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「紙」於至善 解碼紙雕創作家

洪新富

文‧李珊瑋 圖‧扶風文化提供

四歲因為一架紙飛機而入迷,倏忽近半世紀,取得無數紙藝原創專利,不斷精益求精,追求紙藝最高境界。洪新富把發明融入生活,以助人為推展動力。無私分享創作理念,透過遊戲,啟動觀察力,達成自主學習目標。 2003年獲得全國十大傑出青年桂冠,達成「大孝顯親」心願,自詡為社會公器,永遠的文化志工,將榮耀回饋孕育他的家園。用台灣文化底蘊為養份,滋潤作品,立體呈現台灣的生態之美。展示足跡遍及全球20多個國家、100多個城市的洪新富,以熱情和智慧進行國民外交,用紙藝創造台灣傳奇。


 

一架紙飛機,啟蒙創意人生

「我從小愛玩,沒有想到竟然玩出一點兒名堂。」半個世紀前的童年,對洪新富來說,市售童玩是不易親近的奢侈品。「最容易拿到的是日曆紙,用來摺飛機。」和別的孩子不同的是,小小年紀的洪新富很執著,專注地思考要怎麼做才會更好,且不斷重覆練習,改良修正。小小的紙飛機,不僅要會飛,還要飛的又高又遠。

國小四年級,外婆一句:「有本事就證明你的價值」,懵懵懂懂的洪新富受到激勵,立志要用小小一張紙,摺出自己的大志業。兩年後,外婆去世,這句童稚的誓言,成為洪新富一生無法悔約的承諾。

幸運鼠,結識十萬朋友

走進擁擠的工作室,洪新富才剛坐下,立即拿出四方形的色紙,靈巧的把刀模線翻轉結合,粉紅色的紙老鼠瞬間出現眼前。洪新富隨手在他自稱的戰袍口袋裡,掏出一顆小彈珠,放入紙老鼠的腹部,彷彿變魔術一般,原本靜置的紙老鼠,隨著平板的搖晃,竟然快速地奔跑起來。「紙老鼠會跑,其實是運用地心引力和慣性作用。」簡單有趣的玩具,透過口耳相傳,三年間,賣了10萬隻。洪新富開心的說,「只要見到這隻老鼠,就知道是朋友,或是朋友的朋友。」

「這項原創專利,其實是窮則變的小把戲。」創業初期,洪新富經常三餐不繼,朋友們輪流請他到家中做客,因為拿不出伴手禮,只能動腦筋哄小孩。為了更加生動有趣,洪新富絞盡腦汁,跨越傳統紙雕的框架。「我做紙藝有三項原則,第一是一紙到底,第二是具有動感,第三是不用膠水。」先運用凹凸還原手法,將一張平面的紙轉變為立體,再運用物理現象來驅動,由靜止變動態。

琳琅滿目的展示架上,隨處都是洪新富的心血結晶。一隻卡通造型的小猴子,不但是可愛的裝飾品,兩手一拉一鬆間,還能上下前後翻滾,動感十足。「這隻羊,我花了很多心力。」誇張的大眼配上醒目的金羊角,寓意「財神下凡賜福祿,金羊運財步步來。」洪新富把紙羊放在傾斜的平版上,極具喜感的羊兒,就左右搖擺地向你走來。不用電池就能動,在遊戲中,把知識融入生活。

立定志向,摺出完美人生

「我的曾祖父洪萬美,經營蠟燭生意,據說曾經是迪化街首富。」但是有見地的老人家,寧可拿錢救助貧苦,也不願嬌慣子孫。「我們家三代都是白手起家,我現在也這麼教育孩子。」雖然父親經營電器行,家道小康,但是傳承「窮養子」的家訓,洪新富從小就開始打工。「男人就是要有責任感,首先要能養活自己,再來要能養活父母,然後才談得上結婚生子。」身教勝於言教,洪新富和妻子同心,以孝為先,重視家庭,講義氣、守信用。「我覺得這些傳統的核心價值,才是人生中最重要的基石。」

自小成績優異的洪新富,為了迅速養成一技之長,高中聯考時,技巧性高分落榜,如願進入當時的五專──現在的世新大學,準備畢業後,就朝向創業之路邁進。「我向爸爸保證,畢業前,一定拿到職場聘書,才獲准入學。」立定目標後,所有的力量都向職場邁進。「我想到用社團來發展事業。」在校期間,憑藉摺紙的功力,成為社團講師,也集結了一批志同道合的夥伴,認識了事業的貴人。

「不要以為玩是壞事,只要方向掌握對了,可以玩出完美人生。」洪新富在世新玩了五年,鍛鍊出辦事邏輯、表達方式和領導力。「其實我是邊做邊學。」一次又一次的磨練,把原本嚴重口吃、內向羞怯的洪新富,訓練成口若懸河的紙藝魔術師。大學畢業前取得全國卡片設計銅牌獎,生產立體卡片,集結歷年作品出版,實踐了對父親的承諾。

感佩恩師,學無止境

「我很感恩有好多名師指導我。」如同幽谷中的扶杖、懸崖上的支撐。「19歲的我,照著翁參隆老師的書,摺出作品,踏入師門。」兩人情同父子。「成為學生的墊腳石,是老師的天職。」翁參隆這句話,成為洪新富的座右銘。面對學生,總是傾囊相授。

洪新富身材不高,心志卻比天還高,不只做職人,更要成為達人。「紙藝的範圍很廣,真的是學無止境。」由翁參隆、陳惠蘭,到余爾莉、簡福龍、賴禎祥、蔡爾平,都是他的恩師。這些跨域的養份,引領洪新富開拓多元的方向,異材質的嘗新,滋潤作品的底蘊。

「老師教導的不只是技術,更是珍貴的觀念,用身教馴化我這匹野馬。」學習的動力要由心出發,才能真實領悟,進而脫胎換骨。透過摺叠切割剪裁,翻花借紙等各種手法,生活中熟稔的任何事物,都是創作的題材。作品可以柔美浪漫,也可以剛硬堅強;忽而簡約樸拙,轉身華麗精緻;外表無色平實,內在多彩繽紛。

打破框架,天地開濶

「名片是我的敲門磚」,這張立體紙雕名片,對摺後印現一隻鸚鵡螺,打開後卻變為翻轉的宇宙,寓意深遠又活潑有趣。「第一眼就讓人印象深刻。」成功打造出紙藝家的形象。

為了希望紙雕更加親民,進而量產,洪新富想到用刀模壓線,不必使用專業筆刀,就能動手把玩。蟬聯多年入選為元宵提燈,人人都能輕鬆DIY。因為線條細緻複雜,工廠老闆看到他就搖頭,「少年吔!麥亂啦!」(台語發音)。從兇巴巴的拒絕,到歡喜討論協助,洪新富用真誠和磨功,打開通路。「第一副刀模作品是三姐的喜帖。」半甲子來,嘗試用不同的刀模製作,活脫脫是產業進化的見證人。

洪新富講求作品的真善美,希望讓紙藝成為藝術收藏。「有時候太逼真,也是一種困擾。」洪新富回憶在校際巡迴展時,一隻幾可亂真的蚊子,數度慘遭觀眾撲殺。弄得主辦單位緊急在作品旁立牌:「蚊子勿打」。栩栩如生的「洪氏紙蝶」更招來環保人士的撻伐。每件作品都要花費1年以上,才完成設計的「軍武系列」,更是贏得美軍顧問團的關注。「我花了很多錢買國內外的圖鑑,仔細研究。」參考書多到滿坑滿谷,洪新富對這項投資從來不手軟。

「不要被框架侷限」,不斷有新點子冒出來的他,像個好奇寶寶,不管是積木、玩具槍、鐘表,身邊所有東西,在他眼裡都具有研究的價值。「我最喜歡逛跳蚤市場。」尋找奇怪的老東西,不斷地拆解、重建,成為新創。洪新富一直像個拚命三郎,運用電影分鏡手法,分解運動路徑。「為了思考一個動作,有時候我會忙到沒日沒夜,可以在沙發上睡三個月。」即使雙手因為長期切割剪裁而疼痛變形,洪新富也不改初衷,樂此不疲。沒有人能憑空成長,唯有不怕苦的紮實功力,才能超越巔峰。

玩具創客館,用愛串連

2003年經小西園掌中戲團執行長許國良推薦,獲選為全國十大傑出青年。「我只是平凡的台灣囝仔,因為平凡更能引起共鳴。」自嘲學習慢半拍的洪新富,雖有天馬行空的夢想,卻老老實實的一步一腳印,逐夢踏實。

「所有的成果,都源於兒時的夢想。」童年時欣羨的立體書,開啟了洪新富的異想世界,2012年立體書展中,創下24萬人次的傲人成績。2013年在台中市政府廣場,集結70多位美術老師的集體創作,總長106公尺,148個跨頁的立體書,在眾人的歡呼聲中,成功挑戰金氏世界紀錄。

「運用扣件,讓立體書能夠無限長的串聯延伸。」申請多國專利的源起,就是十指交扣的簡單動作。在生活中找靈感,寓教於樂的觀念,在這項行動中向下扎根。「我希望把複雜的東西簡化,把死板的公式活化。」洪新富運用數理公式,建構出教學立體書,希望孩子快樂學習。「我深愛著養育我成長的這片土地,希望把快樂的種籽,散佈在每個角落。」

「我下一個夢想是打造一座『玩具創客館』。」在失敗中獲得成功的洪新富,深深體會不計成敗,苦幹實幹,上天總會給你機會。「動手做出來的,都是生命的延續。」洪新富希望在『玩具創客館』中,人人都能動手學習。「過程比結果重要」,心手相連,激發出更多的可能,就像他一樣,達到「紙於至善」。

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