04-17-2007 13:49

Twenty years ago, Golden Horse winning actress Loretta Yang Hui-shan abruptly left the Taiwan film industry. At the height of her career, Yang found it had become a draining and unfulfilling lifestyle. She decided to devote her life to a more challenging art form - creating Liuli. Over the years she has became a much sought-after Liuli artist around the world.

In 1985, Loretta Yang got the lead in director Chang Yi's "Jade Love" due to her expressive hands. They proved even more deft after she began making Liuli creations.

Liuli is the archaic Chinese word for glass artwork. Yang chose liuli in place of the more commonly used word for glass -- boli, because in her words, Liuli is more refined and embodies Chinese culture and history.

Loretta Yang said, "We all known the Chinese word Boli. It's a kind of material. Liuli is an ancient Chinese name. For me, it's a kind of spirit, mentality and culture."

Before she became obsessed with Liuli, Yang starred in a total of 124 movies. Though she had no professional training, she managed to pocket two Golden Horse awards in Taiwan and a prize from the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.

Loretta Yang said, "Both for movie and Liuli, I know very well that I need to work hard. I need to learn many things through observation, interpretation, and communication.

Liuligongfang founded in late 1980s was the first glass-art workshop in China. It's now becoming a recognizable brand name.

But success did not come easy -- or cheap. Yang mortgaged everything, including the houses of all her family members. With no training and with no mentors to imitate, her early work was trial-and-error. She held the conviction that, regardless of profits, her venture would highlight traditional Chinese culture.

"Superficially, it's a piece of Liuli; it's a business of Liuligongfang; or it's an artistic creation of Yang Huishan. But what we truly care is what lies behind that -- it's educational, cultural and a national essence. Any work we create must be evaluated in the long span of art. After that is the assess of our own achievement," added Loretta Yang.

In the beginning, most of the expenses were a result of the technique they use, known as pate-de-verre or lost-wax casting.