Ping Kee Copperware - The last of Hong Kong’s handcrafted copperware

[14/12/17] 

 

“Kong! Kong! Kong!” As you walk down a very particular alley of Yau Ma Tei (油麻地), this is the only sound you will hear. Whether it be under the glaring sun, or amidst a downpour of rain, the three Coppersmiths of Ping Kee Copperware will be sweating through the day with a hammer in one hand, and their artisanal masterpieces in the other.

The Luk Brothers are the owners of Ping Kee Copperware, Hong Kong’s very last handcrafted copperware shop. Their journey began when the two brothers graduated from primary school in the 1940s, and quickly began learning the tricks of the trade from their father, apprenticing under the senior Luk for over 30 years. After gradually gaining the requisite experience to run a business in addition to working as a craftsmen, the younger Luks have since taken over.

Ping Kee Copperware makes all types of copperware from small pots and pans to big decorative art pieces. The time spent sculpting their work may range from as little as a few hours, to weeks and even months, depending on the size and shape of the piece and the intricacy of techniques involved. “Most of the time I just need my good eye and trusty hammer, but sometimes I need other tools like this!” said Luk Keung Choi, the younger of the two, as he proudly holds up a plain blue plastic cyclinder with a wide grin across his face.

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It was evident that the Luk Brothers carried on their father’s legacy not just to make a living, but because they have a passion for their work, despite the many uphill struggles and competitive challenges that come their way, namely the saturated market for common, dispensable kitchen cookware. Ping Kee Copperware do not offer any frills. They don’t do fancy. And you cannot buy their wares on demand, as they do not operate on the principle of Prêt-à-Porter. Everything is made to order, which can be slow and tedious. Furthermore, from a materials science standpoint copperware is often more brittle than what you can find in most conventional crockery stores. What Ping Kee does have though is their painstaking craftsmanship, with its nods to traditional Chinese culture embedded in the handiwork. In fact, they even offer repair services free of charge, something almost quaint in this world of single-use consumer goods—but, hey, loyal customers keep coming back.

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Hidden in plain sight is this rare gem of local Hong Kong history, regardless of what the future may hold for this unique craftsmanship, the Luk Brothers represent the best of #youdoyou. Their passion, strength, and resilience are an inspiration.

 


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