Fluffy dogs and hairy crabs in Shanghai

Fluffy dogs and hairy crabs in Shanghai

I arrived in Shanghai last Wednesday in time to check on the final container of our Classical Chinese Furniture due to leave before Christmas. Whilst some pieces were already finished, others were still at the woodwork stage. It’s always interesting to see our furniture in the various stages of production, as well a good opportunity to check the quality of workmanship and joinery before the final finish is applied.

The workshop we use is fairly small, so the production of our furniture is very much a traditional, cottage industry. The carpenters are producing individual pieces by hand as far as possible, aided by cutting tools and other machinery to ensure accurate and tight fitting joinery. Unlike other factories, the workshop produces only Chinese style furniture, so the carpenters are all very familiar with the designs and construction of the Shimu style.

It was good to meet some of the workers and see our furniture in production. In particular I was able to view and check on the various ‘bespoke’ pieces that will be included on the container – most of these were finished to the woodwork stage so I’m looking forward to seeing photos of the final pieces in the next week or so.

River View Boats on the River Lanterns at Night
Food Stall in ZhuJiaJiao Fluffy Guard Dog Carved Window Panels

On Friday afternoon a couple of the guys here offered to take me out of Shanghai to an ancient town close by called ZhuJiaJiao. Built over a river and network of tributaries, it provides a stark contrast to the high rise hustle and bustle of central Shanghai. Busy with tourists but still feeling calm and tranquil as boats slowly ferry back and forth along the waterways and under the many arched stone bridges, the town gives a glimpse of an older, slower China that I rarely see on my visits.

I very much enjoyed ambling along the riverside, checking out the various stalls and wooden framed shops that offered everything from the usual jade, stone and  jewellery aimed at the passing tourist traffic to food stalls displaying their wares of pigs trotters and crayfish. We stopped at a tea house by the river and soon afterwards headed for one of the little restaurants for a meal of ‘hairy crab’ – a seasonal delicacy in this part of China in October and November – and other delicacies.

It was a nice way to finish my Shanghai visit as, after a final brief trip to the workshop on Saturday morning for some final checks, I flew on to Beijing. This second part of my China trip is mainly to select the next container of antique Chinese furniture to ship, along with discussions on some future reproduction ranges. More to follow soon on what I’ve lined up so far.

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