Instead of relying on machines, the coiling method is a way to make ceramics by hand with clay strips. However, because this pottery-making technique is complicated and time-consuming, the skills gradually began to be lost. At present, the kiln is run by the second generation in the Chang family, Chang Shi-hao (張世浩) and Peng Hsiu-mei (彭秀梅), and the couple has passed on the hand-squeezing skills to their children Chang Yu-hsuan (張予晅) and Chang Wei-han (張維翰). Through the sparks created by three generations of the Chang family working in the kiln, this Hakka village’s pottery culture and industry are not only passed down to younger generations, but also innovating new techniques and creations.
Peng Hsiu-mei was originally an accountant in a factory. After she got married with Chang Shi-hao and began working in his family’s Tongluo Kiln, she was amazed at how a pile of clay can be turned into so many products of different shapes and sizes. Gradually, she became interested in learning how to make pottery by using the coiling method and devoted herself to this craft. Her learning has lasted for the past 30 years. From small pottery jars to hundreds of kilogram-large urns, nothing is too difficult for her. Ms. Peng has become the only female pottery maker specializing in the coiling technique in Taiwan to make large urns.
When she first started her learning this art, Ms. Peng always felt frustrated because she didn't do well. She used her hands so much during the day that they trembled uncontrollably at night. The hardships along the way made her not want her children to embark on the same difficult path. But looking at the kilns in the area close one by one and the pottery masters get older and older, Ms. Peng did not want these skills to be lost, so she became determined to let her children learn the traditional technique together.
Under the guidance of the Hakka Affairs Council’s Hakka Crafts Transmission Project, the site where the kiln is located, which hasn’t been organized in the past 50 years, was cleaned up to specifically position the kiln tools. The space was also organized in a way to allow for a shop in the front and a work area in the back. After the renovation, the Tongluo Kiln still retained the antique flavor of the original kiln. However, the strategic transformation of space made it much more user friendly, and there is now more room to experience the beauty of Hakka pottery making. As a result, crowds of tourist have begun to flock here and the brand of Tongluo Kiln has become more well-known.
With the efforts of artisans and apprentices, Tongluo Kiln not only makes water tanks and wine urns, it also produces teapots, tea cups and a large landscape of pottery products. Ceramicists of the kiln also worked hard on glazing a wider variety of colors on the pottery, adding a calm black and a dazzling deep sea blue that looks like a gem, making the pottery urns no longer only traditional brown. Ms. Peng hopes that this technique will be continuously passed down to future generations, so that the world will see the transformation of the Tongluo Kiln and the indomitable spirit of the Hakka people.