Exploring Practitioners 2: Lei Weaving – Kaitlyn

Creative Practice

Ke-Ting Chen’s work, Queen of Collectors

Ke-Ting Chen is a Taiwanese plant pathologist and artist whose residency with Jalan Besar Salon 2018 featured lei weaving artworks that intertwined with selected research documents. Collectively, the series of talks and workshops will showcase his work with the indigenous communities and farm sash where he explored the effects of human intervention on these natural resources.

Tools & equipment used

• Fresh and dried botanicals specimens 
• Weaving ropes of variable thickness
• Cutters or scissors
• Mats or trays
• A pair of hands!

Worksite / Set-up

Chen picked up lei weaving from aboriginal tribes of Taiwan; they would typically weave head or body wreathes in open spaces surrounded by natural environments, such as in indigenous villages and farms. Here in the city, his weaving workshop was conducted within a retail store, where participants would sit on the floor around tables and the experience turned out to be quite and intimate!

Retail store of Emporium of the Modern Man (EoMM)

While handy leaves and flowers were prepared on trays for later use, a corner in his 3-week worksite is dedicated to a larger variety of plant and flower specimens, which were also part of his botanical installations. 

Process

We were taught one of the simpler forms of lei weaving: using braids.

Before we started to weave flowers into our ropes, Chen advised us to map out how we wanted our final wreathe to look, on the mats/trays given to us.

I really liked the purple leaves and thought I would add yellow and red flowers as a pop of colour.

Time for weaving!

2 hours and a whole lot of patience later… 

My very own neck wreathe

Pain Points

It was really difficult to braid dried stems into the sash because they’re very brittle and rigid; I had to replace them multiple times whenever they would break away. Chen later mentioned the trick was to soften them before braiding by spraying some water on them; I wished he would have told me that earlier!

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