Friday, July 8, 2016

Breathing Life into Brass

Text: C.Martin

They were lying on the tables, hanging on wooden boards on the walls and tucked in comfortably in honeycomb-like shelves on the walls.


“I designed and crafted all these with my little fingers.” Pinky Wong gestured at the meticulously handcrafted pieces of jewellery in her studio shop, which was aptly named “The Little Finger”. Even the brownish-gold letters outside the shop – yes, those were handmade herself too.

Pinky carved and polished each of their curves and bends from brass. Watching her work, it seemed to me like she was breathing life into each of her pieces, giving them their own spark stroke by stroke.

Pinky said that she liked working with brass most of all as it was not easily oxidized like silver if worn for long periods of time. She said this seemed to diminish the quality of jewellery pieces when they gathered the grey sheen of oxidation. She felt brass gave quality and value to her pieces.

Coupled with quality metal, traces of wool often wound their way into her designs. She liked to use wool to fill in the “negative space”, or the open and empty space, in her pieces. This seemed to give a warmer and almost human touch to the raw metal.

While Pinky concentrated on crafting her pieces, Toby Cheung made sure the shop operated smoothly. They had been classmates in university, and Toby decided to help Pinky out when she heard about the studio shop. Catching their shared smiles reminiscent of old times, I think she enjoyed working at The Little Finger as much as Pinky.

I was curious about where the name for “The Little Finger” came from, though I had a bit of an idea. With a cheeky grin, Pinky relayed to me the short story of how “The Little Finger” came to be.

“Well, my name is Pinky, which is another name for the little finger on our hands. So in a way, I guess I am the little finger.

“And all the jewellery pieces here are handmade, from the little fingers of designers like me. It’s amazing what you can make with these little fingers.”

What was even more amazing was that she rarely sketched out the design of her jewellery on paper – she just started making them and feeling them out with her fingers.

“Of course, you do have to have a bit of an idea about how you want it to turn out. But working with metal relies a lot on the feel of it on the tips of your fingers. I don’t like being restricted by designs on paper, because when you start making the piece it has a way of telling you what works best. I prefer it that way.”

And each piece takes quite a long time to make. The pieces of jewellery on display are oftentimes the only piece in the shop. So when it is picked by its new owner, that spot becomes empty, and the little finger(s) start working again to fill the vacant spot.

I watched as Pinky sent off her piece of jewellery. Along with it, she gave the owner-to-be a small card with procedures on how to care for the jewellery, along with a little piece of sandpaper attached to it.

“The best way to keep it in good shape is just to wear it more. Please don’t throw it away if it shows small signs of wear – I put a lot of effort into making this piece. Please take good care of it!”

The Little Finger
H206, 2/F, Hollywood, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Opening Hour: 12:00nn 8:00pm Daily


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