the city of porcelain
im back in the porcelain captial of the world, jingdezhen, china. back in the studio, this is the reason i came back to china =)
this entry has been a long time coming, so i am going to do a quick overview... a picture is worth a thousand words right?
sunrise from my dorm window
group shot in the studio. we are working along side 18 chinese sculpture majors from CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts-- the best fine arts school in the country)
throwing demo!! hey doesnt that form look familiar?
nick, myself, amethyst, and reid at ding ding's bar for reids bday
ding ding's bar is across the street from campus. very small, cute place. they have american booze here, a little on the pricey side. oh and they have two puppes. so cute. this was reid's birthday
preperation for the woodfiring. this is how we move wood in china =)
first tea pot ever! i plan to make more soon =)
this was a quicky blog ;) just an update. hopefully within the next couple days ill update again.. with REALLY exciting news!!
shanghai this time around was a bit more eventful for me.. as i didnt really fall victim to jetlag and lose a full day to sleep. we stayed at the same hotel, right on nanjing road, a huge walking, shopping street. great place for people watching.
our first day there we headed to the shanghai museum, great place. went to the nike store, browsed some shoes. im definitely going to have to get some custom nikes made when i get back to the states, ive been inspired ;) ate beijing (peking) duck for dinner, yum. then we headed to the bund for the beautiful view of pudong at night. the air was thick with a bit of rain, the tops of the sky scrapers were out of sight, but it was still a picture worthy occasion! we then stopped in at the peace hotel. wowza, ritzy!! peaked our heads into the jazz bar, and peaced-out (ha peaced out of the peace hotel). on the walk back it was a pretty mutual agreement that it was time to throw a few back.. so we stopped at the beer garden andres and i went to last time.. and i had a few tigers and laughs while starting to get to know this great group of people.
the next day was a free day-- started by doing the most touristy thing possible... the double decker tour bus... really we only did this because it was 30 rmb per person, and you could hop on and off all day. so it was a nice breezy taxi ride with the whole group in the same vehicle. it turned out to be a great place to get pictures of people taking pictures of us. thats a fun game. lol. we decided to hop off when we drove past the lamborghini show room and the gucci store. the area was pretty and was screaming for photo opps. our group divided a bit at this point.
i had too many pomegranate lemonades and needed to find a restroom. so i ran into this cafe... and was in heaven.. if any place could fit me better.... bright colors... black geometric line patterns everywhere... i knew we had to go back.. and we did after roaming the streets a bit. we went to the 3rd floor bar and had some cocktails.. i had the cucumber martini for 68 rmb.. roughly about 11 or 12 dollars.. nate had the ginger pear martini... both were mind blowingly good. it was a nice swanky place to rest our feet.
hopped on the subway and headed to an irish pub to watch some rugby. for me it was the place to grab my last western -style meal... holy amazing. ha. allie and i sat at the bar (they didnt have a table big enough for our whole group) we had a feast.. tacos as an app. we both had soup.. then she had a burger and fries and i had a quesadilla that was served with fries as well. we met this guy eli from washington. chatted him up for a bit and then again the group split. some stayed for the next rugby game and more beer.. i went with the group to take on some more of shanghai.. in search for the pottery workshop.. we were meeting the first split and bob there to head for dinner. for directions, we had a map and a piece of paper with cross roads and maybe a street address?... found what could be the only possible translation to cross roads on the map.. and figured we'd walk.. it was only a few blocks away..
the blocks were extremely long.. we got kicked out of a music shop on the way and by the time we got to the intersection the pottery workshop was nowhere in sight. with about 30 mins till our meeting time.. we walked on.. found a gallery (where i stumbled upon a Do Ho Suh piece and was pretty please with that) but we figured since we were in the right area the gallery would be the place to point us in the direction of the pottery workshop.. i mean they should know where a studio is on the same block right? nope. but they did find it online for us... marked it on the map.. another 3 blocks back the way we came. at this point we had like 10 mins. so i decided to grab a friend and RUN there.. just incase we could catch the others before they figured we just did our own dinner.. so nate and i ran.. seriously ran. and we got to the pottery workshop.. the gallery not the studio! no bob or the others in sight. nate and myself, neither of us runners, were both dying. a few mins later the rest of our group we ditched when we ran, arrived. it was a quarter past 6 at this point.. when the lady behind the desk gave us directions to the studio. why not go, just to say we found it.. we did... well we found the group.. couldnt blv they were still there half hour after meeting time.. the actual studio was down a small alley.. no wonder why we couldnt find it.. at this point i was too tired to even think about going to dinner with everyone, so myself josh kirk and nate (3 of the 4 osu guys) headed back to the hotel.. making a pit stop at pizza hut. what a day--
10am next morning heading to the train station for a 16 hr train ride... yuck. but this meant i was that much closer to jingdezhen and the studio.
ive been looking forward to my return to china since the second i landed in the states back in july. preparing this time around was alot different. ive been so busy i havent even really had a chance to feel anything... excitement, anxiety... nothing. maybe i guess its because i know what to expect this time around. but even just days before my departure i felt everyone around me was freaking out for me more than i was. its like this.. cool, calm, and collected feeling. i know what to expect. and im super happy inside. packing was the worst. i just didnt want to do it. if it were up to me.. i would have just taken me, myself, my camera, and my mudtools ribs.. okay and some pin-striping tape. but thats not how things work, and im not rich enough to just buy as i go. so needless to say i wasnt completely packed until an hour before i had to leave for the airport.
made it to detroit metro around 6 yesterday morning, ms allie rumler (another CMU student) met me there. its going to be great having someone from my home studio here with me. we met the majority of the rest of the group in chicago. with a little over an hour till take off we conveniently found a place for me to charge up my phone.. at an airport bar. i bought allie her first legal beer (it being her 21st birthday yesterday) and we chatted with some randoms. looked down at my phone and said... "time to go.. they start boarding in 2 mins... you know they start boarding 25 mins before take off" the man next to us says, "um international they board 45 mins in advance!" OH SH!T... we took off running sure enough everyone was on the plane and they were calling our names over the intercom. leave it to us.
after almost missing our flight from chicago to china, allie and i made it from detroit to shanghai. this time around the group is much larger. 14 students, emily reason (visiting artist), and bob. im still learning everyone's names.
shanghai. everything is familiar and it feels so good. my excitement has finally come to surface, and the smile has not left my face. and i am now extremely giddy and excited to get back to jingdezhen and into the studio... ahhh.. and some faces.. li chao, nick, xio min, laufong, de mamma...
allie and i missed dinner last night, she was sleeping and my phone was an hour off. so we grabbed some noodles for dinner then hit the sheets HARD! and of course woke up really early, which i dont mind.. its a perfect time to get a quick blog post in and some emails out!
meeting for breakfast at 730, then im sure we will be heading to the shanghai mueseum today!
'til next time,
peace and love from china.
in a little over a month i will be back to noodles and beer, mr chowder aka sleepy panda, a voice only describable as sounding like "a fart going through a keg of nails", my studio space with stratigically placed mosiquito rings(like six lol), but what i really cant wait for... the three n a half months ill have to submerge myself into my work, in a place where experimentation is limitless and discovery is right around the corner. the big beer place is a plus too. ahhhh CHINA!
leaving china in a few hours...
its almost 3am. in attempt to fight off jet lag im staying awake till my cab comes at 530am to pick me up for the airport. im done packing and now im just listening to a CD i got from li chao. its a great CD by what translates to the knife man.. or so li chao says. i figured since im so behind in my blogging i'd share some thoughts as my trip comes to an end. i will add the xi'an and beijing blogs once ive settled in back in the states.
this whole trip has been an experience of a lifetime, and im sure it wont all set in and absorb until ive been home for awhile and had time to process it all. but this goodbye is hard. my group has been amazing, and i know ive made some great friends. i knew this trip was going to be great. but i don't think great is even a word that can begin to justify what ive gained personally from it. it only proves what i claimed before, traveling is a passion of mine. i know i will re-visit china again. while now i have so many other places i thrive to experience. i knew that ceramics was it for me. not that there ever was, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind i am completely passionate about clay, and even more, becoming a successful ceramic artist. its only been two years since i discovered clay... and its been the best two years of my life. with that being said, i think my stay in jingdezhen and my time in the studio was my favorite part of this trip.
jingdezhen is my first experience in a studio other that north arts studio. ALOT of things were different there. and i surprised myself with how well i adjusted within the short 3 weeks i was there. even if i don't continue with them all back in NAS i know that everything from the buttery porcelain and dry trimming to glazing green, has only made me a stronger artist. taking everything as a learning experience and realizing that even when you lose a piece, i have grown with experience, so its not a total loss. that positive attitude is something that has been consistent through this whole trip.
the best thing, other than the studio time, is traveling through different parts of china. seeing everything from the streets of poor villages to the overly westernized big cities. meeting and somewhat communicating with locals in these areas has been something genuine that im positive not everyone on these trips experience. most of the time, especially in the poorer areas, that interaction would make my day and im sure theirs as well. most of these people don't see americans that often. and when an american lets their guard down and spends time with the, you can see it in there faces, excitement and exuberant happiness.. that right there is the best feeling.
traveling and seeing the tourist sights has been great too. i think that is what made me want to go on this trip. the terracotta warriors sealed the deal for me. the great wall.. awesome! at these moments, when im experiencing these world famous world wonders and bits of history, i realized that what i once thought was just a "that would be cool to see" was now holy sh*t this is really happening. and of course tv, books, and stories can not even transcend the actual awe someone feels in the presence of something so big, and historical. it really puts everything into perspective. the man power it took, the way of life back then, and the impact it all has on the world. it really reinforces that i need to see more... more of the world and what other amazing things it has to offer, yea sure shelby and mt pleasant are great for a place to call home, but experiencing different cultures and environments is really important. i know this has been a life changing trip.
the beautiful nature was mind blowing, waking up to mountains out my dorm window.. to the day trips in the middle of nowhere. and the sweet architecture in the big cities. again just taking it all in.
i think the culinary experience is definitely something that should be discussed. i liked "chinese" food before i came to china. when i get home i know i will miss the REAL chinese food. "noodles and beer", dumplings (aka pockets of love) of all sorts, street food... UGH. im going to miss the food. i came into china, an extremely picky eater, but i told myself there is nothing i wont try. from simply --any seafood-- to scorpion, ive tried it all. and for the most part loved it all. im a lot less afraid of 'boingy' foods. lol. you know-- things that bounce back. it really turns me off from every fast food or corporate chain restaurant. i now, even more than before, appreciate unique and authentic, fresh food.
until my next adventure... thank you china, wvu, jci, and every person that has made this experience what it is... simply put, life changing.
time to gather my belongings and an extra suitcase full of gifts and memorabilia and head back to the states.
as always, peace and love.
here are some pics from xi'an and beijing until i post the full blogs.
i knew this time would come, about 3 days into my stay in jingdezhen i started to dread the day i would have to leave.
our send off celebration...
after i quickly finished glazing my two line sets, i ran back to the dorm.. showered and met the group in food alley for dinner. directly from there we walked to the big beer place... we had a pretty large group.. myself, boomer, nick, becky, carman, andres, jake, chris, fei, patrick, jeremy, xi ming(spelling??), and dryden. always starting a bit slow, something always seems to happen at the big beer place. this time a woman went into labor. the best part of this is that we had no clue what was happening until we seen an ambulance pull out of the hospital, literally directly across the street from the big beer place. it pulled right up, and the rushed in with a gurney... carried her out and drove right back, across the street, to the hospital. would have probably been quicker to just run across the sreet.
beer-munchies hit... and fei ran out and grabbed some snacks. eggplant, sea clams, oysters, and duck neck. none of which i would have eaten before this trip. eggplant i have had already and loved. i started with the small clams. i was convinced i would hate them... to my surprise they were delicious and the texture didn’t bother me at all(not too boingy). then they had to convince me to try the oysters... which had been cooked with garlic or something because they were delicious! ... the duck neck was gone by the time i started to feel adventurous. i think i forgot to mention that i had squid earlier in the day at korean bbq... talk about an adventurous day!
we were determined to get the party started so me and carman walked down the street picked up something like six--four packs of dice. we started playing some sort of dice game... kind of like the card game bullsh*t. but with dice. fun... but hard to get everyone involved. so patrick taught us another game involving 6 small glasses, endless amounts of beer and a die. start with each glass filled in a row, then roll the die 1-6, which ever you roll.. you drink, your turn continues until you roll the number of an empty glass. then its the next person’s turn.. refill each glass except for the last one the previous person drank.. if someone goes through all six.. they get to make a rule. i was the only one to accomplish this. mr party man, patrick, had a brilliant idea to buy some bijou, a big bottle--a little better quality than what we‘ve ever had. and fill one of the glasses with a shot instead of beer. soon the table got rowdy and nick and chris were doing hand stands... talks of places to park bikes... it got a little blurry from there on. i took some videos.. and have yet to look through them...
some people drifted out.. i had to say goodbye to fei. it was really nice to meet her. she speaks good english and it was nice to be able to hang out with her a few times and get to know her. i wish i would have had more time to hang out with her, she is such a sweetheart. hopefully she will still be here when i return. =)
we closed the big beer place down again, then headed to bbq AGAIN. lol sooo good. there was more bijou drinking there... i was a sleepy panda on the walk home, ha. but all in all it was a great night with some great people. i will never forget these times, and i hope to keep in touch.
the next day we had korean bbq for lunch with li chao before he left for beijing to meet up with the summer group 2 (shoji’s group) we would be meeting up with them in xi’an in a couple days. the rest of the day was filled with packing... NO FUN.
xiao min fired the small gas kiln... 8am-2pm. and after going to dinner (downtown for donkey again) it was time to unload... so at 8 we cracked it and around 10 pm we unloaded... super fast, right???
so my set of 5 (china line one) turned out pretty good. for it being my first experience with decals and with the limited time i had to glaze, im pretty happy with it.. as for my china line two the set of 3.. the glaze didn’t work out so well. i think the time factor had lot to do with that.. i applied a latex resist over top the black glaze before putting on the decals, i applied it to quickly after spraying the glaze... when i pulled it off some of the glaze came with it. then i sprayed clear over it all. i did this bc the test i had run with our first firing i put latex over decals... and it pulled some of that off... and i wanted the decals on these to be as detailed as possible... what i should have done was applied the decals first sprayed clear all over... then latex over where the decals were.. then sprayed black. that way if anything would be removed by the latex it would have been some clear. that i think would have solved that problem... but hey, i figured out what works... or i guess what doesn’t. im going to bring home the set and try to re-fire it.. but im happy with the firing and the knowledge i have gained from it. there’s some pics below.
we all headed back to finish packing. UGH.
woke up early, we were having a bus pick us up at 8 am for a 4 hr bus ride to nanchang then a 2 hr flight to xian.
leaving jingdezhen was hard. but the only thing that made the departure a bit easier was that i know i will return. =)
before we left i headed to the studio to drop off a couple little pots... maybe they’ll stick around the studio.. i also left an extremely big lighter.. had to leave a few pieces of me behind. im glad i went back there bc i was able to say goodbye to sagger and la fong.
xiao min, nick and chris were at the dorms to say goodbye. nick is staying till december, im bummed that he’s not coming for the rest of the trip bc he was fun to have around, chris is done in jingdezhen and is heading to korea for a bit. --GOOD LUCK wherever your next venture takes you!-- i hope to keep in contact with the both of them... great times had. =)
gave hugs said see ya laters, and hopped on the bus... jingdezhen was the most influential part of this trip for me. making myself at home, in the dorm.. studio.. and the city. making friends with other clay ppl, la fong, and the mamma’s of the kitchen, food alley people, and general store employees.. within my work i expect to see some changes.. just from being exposed to all of the possibilities. having so many resources right at your finger tips forces you to consider the possibilities within your work. i plan on looking into getting specific decals made for my line sets when i get home... the idea of maybe one day making molds of these vessels... i know its going to be a bit more difficult back at home, and i can only expect it to be more expensive.. but now that i know this is all here... when i return it will be easier for me to do. 3 weeks just wasn’t long enough to use all of these resources’ to their fullest. i will be back.
i WILL be back.
the flood. and more big beers.
so lots of rain = lots of water... and as some of you may already know.. parts of jingdezhen flooded. everyone has talked about last year’s flood.. but really i didn't think it would happen again. last year a dam up-river was opened and without any warning the studio was under about 5 ft of water within an hour. there was alot of damage due to the lack of time to prepare. that all happened about 11 months ago. with all the rain we've been getting, we all knew it was a possibility.
i woke up ready to shower wednesday... but there was no water. and the internet was out, i didn't think much of it.. but as i walked up to the studio, the family living in the building next door had a large cart full of stuff, and appeared to evacuating. I also noticed the lights on in the upstairs gallery. I then knew what was happening. walked into a mess and was told to start cleaning out my space and move anything i could to the upstairs gallery.
becky and i realized that it was the day to pick up our laundry at the cleaners on the other side of the river. li chao offered to take us. we hopped into his car and drove down... the river was up to the bridge. and the street the cleaner was down was flooded. i was just realllly happy when they were still open.
i was ready to bust out some last minute work. instead it was it was a serious work your ass off, up and down the stairs.. moving everything from the studio into the gallery upstairs.
the walkway was already ankle deep at 10 am. it was said that they were going to open the dam again and by 5 pm there would be 5ft of water. there were workers at the studio helping get everything upstairs.... all of the wheels, everything from our work stations, all of the glaze materials, most of the visiting artist's pots, everything from li chao's office, all of his sculptures, then the big stuff.. refrigerators, coolers, all of the kitchen stuff, then the furniture. everything went upstairs. by 11 the water started to enter the building... and soon after it was almost knee deep in water you couldn't see through.. and there was debris of all sorts. fish, frogs... and i even seen a dead bird. although i didn't see any, i was told there was most likely snakes in the water too.
on the walk back to the studio we spotted a scorpion, which brought us to the topic of snakes in china... apparently the little walkway through some trees right outside our dorm is known as viper-alley. yikes! and there are cobras and bamboo snakes that after being bitten your dead within two heart beats. luckily i have not seen any of the above.
the whole flood experience was alot to take in. at that point i wasn't concerned about my work, getting completed... let alone fired. i knew we would all be okay, but the idea of what damage could happen to the studio, and all of the work everyone would have to put in for clean up really broke my heart ugh.
we headed back to the dorms, hoping for a hot shower... and still no water. so we were put up in a hotel across the street for the night. it was a really nice hotel. which was a nice change from our dorm rooms. 10 mins into our stay, we lost power. i guess a hot shower in the dark is better than no shower at all. lol.
the dam was never opened, thank god. so the water only got about waist deep in the studio. and by the next day it emptied out. and clean up began. apparently they didn't need our help with that bc by lunch it had already been taken care of. everything is still upstairs, because the rain really isn't supposed to let up.
we were supposed to fire the soda kiln thursday, the day after the flood. at this point i just came to terms with the fact that my line sets weren't getting fired. which was okay, bc that means less i have to worry about getting back to the states and i know my work has benefited from experimenting with new techniques with my forms.
that's all for the flood...
we all went for a nice dinner downtown. it was so good. we had lamb, goose, donkey, and some veggie dishes, and a of course some noodles, rice and potatoes. it was sooo sooooo good. we headed across the street for some coffee. ordered some drinks we didn't even know what they were. then myself, nick, andres, and jake headed to the big beer place to meet up with chris and fei. patrick was walking passed and seen us so he came in. the night started slow....
then a couple walked in, the women was just screaming at the guy.. and he just sat there and took it. there were tears, umbrellas being thrown.. i think at that point we started drinking for him too. shortly after they left, a reallllly drunk chinese man came over to our table. and kept cheers-ing to chairman mao. im certain that was the only thing he would say in english. he was drooling and hanging all over the guys. he was even going in for kisses and ass grabs.
after closing down the big beer place, we headed down the street for some late night street bbq. super spicy, but sooo good. we got down on some goat on a stick, some green veggie on a stick, mushrooms, and more beer. we destroyed some major food.
the next morning was rough to start, we headed to tour the FRANZ factory. franz is a company that makes extremely gaudy and ridiculous ceramic dinnerware sets and other gaudy stuff. i was tired and a bit hung over... and completely uninterested. we went into the factory, and they asked for no photos again. this time they made us put all of our bags and stuff in our van. but it was pretty cool to see how the factory worked. all slip-cast stuff. going through each step was really interesting. but i was over it.
later that night was boomer's artist talk at the pottery workshop. it was again really interesting, considering the language barrier, there was an interpreter, who did a good job, i think lol. afterwards we went down to the coffee shop for boomer's meet n greet. after a german beer at the youth hostel, we had to take the rest of the group for some bbq. again ate so much. it was funny bc i didn't remember it being as spicy the night before. but it was still realllly good.
the next day there was talk about firing the small gas kiln. i wasn't getting my hopes up seeing as though we were leaving jingdezhen in two days. but after lunch we were told to go glaze... yikes! that didn't give me alot of time. but i used some decals and got it done. met the group in food alley for dinner... then headed to the big beer place again for our send off.
let me tell you. there is never a dull moment at the big beer place.
im in xi'an now.. and really behind on blogging, but i need some rest so ill pick back up on our send off as soon as i can.. it was a night ill never forget not remembering =)
peace and love, and safe thoughts for the rest of the summer to the jci/wvu studio. sending my hopes for a relocation so this wont happen again.
alright im going to make this one short... id like to get caught up tonight... the flood has set me back.
so as for my work in the studio.. ive been spending alot of time working on my line sets. i was a bit unsure if i wanted to work on them here.. but i am ever so happy i have. i am trying new things with the forms and the techniques in creating the forms. yippie!! i guess what i was most unsure.. and a bit scared of was not being able to improve on what ive started back in the states. this bit of insecurity that i sometimes get is really frustrating. i guess its that i still surprise myself with the outcome of my work. when something turns out the way i planned, i feel its luck. which i have gotten lucky in the recent past, but if it wasn’t for all of my hard work.. and not letting all of the disaster/creative blocks/failures (or whatever you want to call them) stop me from doing what i love... i wouldn’t have learned all i know about my specific process, and the materials in general that make successful works seem lucky. i think i have to remind myself of that at times.. and also while i do like my first line sets.. and im semi-proud.. there is so much room for growth, and now that ive looked at them enough, i just see all of the flaws.. or in better terms.. the things i would do different now.... i see them as a starting point. i think that quality in myself(confidence through excitement to continue growth within my work) is starting to help with the bit of insecurity i get before i start something new.
so needless to say i jumped the hurdle.. and have two sets completed and awaiting glaze. and one set i have not finish and probably wont due to the flood.. but ill talk about that in later post. all three sets are completely different from each other.. with specific intent from the very beginning (which is a semi-new concept for me.. i usually just wing it.) pics included below of the two sets... there has been no photos of the latest.. i am going to try to photograph them tomorrow when i get into the studio just to document the process and forms i was working with.. seeing that it will never be completed. again i will go into more detail of reasoning behind that later.
so we took a trip out to the lotus buddha temple with xiao min (i think that’s the correct spelling.. as i butchered it before as chao ming.. sorry friend) these were really cool. we bought some incense to burn at the entrance.. and then did some form of a prayer.. i just copied... which was a bow to front back and both sides. the buddha statues were really beautiful. the whole experience was really peaceful... the smell of the incense, the light chime or music that was playing... there were 3 different large rooms with large Buddha’s in them. all a place for prayer.. as we walked up there was a ceremony going on. women dressed in black robes in a temple singing and walking slowly step by step in a line behind some men with bells of some sort. this temple entrance was just passed a walk way and located on top of a building that was build next to a steep cliff... from which we came from.. hopefully the pictures will aid in my awful explanation. you could walk all the way around the temple... with the backside.. or maybe considered the front.. facing out to a beautiful landscape. the view mixed with the soft chant/singing was unexplainable. the feeling of calm, peace and appreciation was in one word... beautiful.
as we left we came across a millipede.. eek. as we waited for the bus.. i of course made friends... there was a young women and her father.. they said hello... and i said ni hao, then he started to speak chinese.. i then just kind of put my hands up and smiled.. the daughter spoke a little english so he was talking to me through her.. mainly asking where i was from and if i was a student and where at. as be boarded the bus... their whole family came out.. a few little kids.. just so excited.. saying bye-bye. =) i just really love to make people smile. its not everyday they see round-eyes. lol that’s one thing i guess i have forgotten to mention.. there aren’t many foreigners in jingdezhen. we stick out like sore thumbs. most people stare. and i smile and nod.. with the occasional ni hao... kids are the cutest tho.. they usually just yell HELLO! and run away.. they get a kick out of it.
the bus we took back wasn’t a jci bus it was the public transportation... a man sat next to me and he spoke a bit of english... again the same questions... "where are you from? what are you doing here? where are you studying? and how long are you here?" at this point in the trip everyone in my group just knows that i make friends with everyone... its like a joke... "you know stephanie, you don’t have to make friends with every chinese person in china." that fine with me. i just know it makes my day, and hopefully it makes theirs as well =)
when we got back it was time to unload the kiln!!! yay! so everything is the kiln looked great! thanks xiao min.. he is a kiln master. literally that’s what he went to school for. and of course my celedons were beautiful, some of my other glaze combos... not so great, but for the most part, im happy with the firing. ha, i thought my work was small going into the firing.. man, im not sure if its skipping the bisk that makes the shrinkage seem so drastic or its the clay we are using. im assuming both, but everything i made is so small. lol, i guess its okay bc it makes it that much more easier to bring back! pics below.
ktv attempt # 2. so it was the hacc ppl's last night in jingdezhen. have to go out with a bang! li chao took us back to the same ktv.. same room and everything. beer included this time and no time limit.. well 1 am but we were there by 730pm, so the idea of closing the place was a laugh, given our last experience. the case of beer was gone quickly and the involvement in karaoke was still minimal. sooo nick and i decided to make a wal-mart run. one fifth of beam for 260 rmb and a pint of bijiu for less than 10. and the party started upon our return. after about an hour.. there was nobody sitting on the couches... everyone was up dancing and singing along(boomer included).. there may have been some attempts at the worm across the floor.. nick and shawn lol. some bad 80s music.. alot of lady gaga and britney spears.. it was great.. the beam was gone by 10.. and yet we stayed till 1 am.. we didn’t see that coming. all in all it was a blissful day!
the next day was sad.. goodbye to new friends bob trachcel, shawn, hannah, hannah #2, and donna. just started to get to know each of them, and then they had to leave. BUT we exchanged contacts and made great connections. i look forward to keeping in contact with each of them. =)
after they left we figured a good way to get cheered up would be a massage... a fish foot massage. or in jake's words.. a fish-job lol. OMG i was dying. sooo very ticklish. i couldn’t even stand it. the fish lasted about 20 mins, while we got back massages then the people started massaging our feet (thank god)
so JCI's sculpture BFA show was up for a day to be critiqued by the professors. if you get good grades, you get to graduate, if not. welp, your back next semester. there were 90 students work in just the sculpture show. we missed the ceramics show 2 weeks ago.. i heard it was amazing. we were able to check out the show while the profs were grading and discussing, most of it was ceramic sculpture, and alot of it was really great work. some of it was ehhh, okay. but ill tell you what, it was way overwhelming. everything was so close together.. nothing could breath... not even us. 90 artist with multiple works, in 3 small galleries. yikes!! really makes me appreciate my 4 person BFA show and my own space in the gallery.
that night and the following day i was a studio junkie. smoothing out the two completed sets.. preparing them for the soda kiln... and actually bisque firing them! while starting the third set.. and almost finishing the initial alterations before letting then stiffen up enough to smooth out... i was feeling pretty damn accomplished. just as a precaution we unplugged the wheels and put them on top of the work tables (there was a BAD flood in jingdezhen a year ago and the studio was wrecked)... i headed back to the dorms to blog during a mega thunderstorm. it was pouring rain for hours straight.. which turned into ear piercing thunder... the loudest i ever heard. seriously hurt the inside of my ears... as i feel asleep to the rain i though to myself... it really needs to stop raining. 730am rolled around and i had decided to treat myself after the past couple hard work days and skip breakfast to sleep a couple extra hours... i headed to the studio around 10 excited to finish my work and pump out a few cups on our last work day... as i approached the studio it was clear, there was no work being made that day. the flood was well on its way.
so much for a short blog blurb... as i would love to go on. i must get some rest. i will leave you all with that cliff hanger... until next post my friends...
peace and love,
day trips, bourbon, and bike rides
so much has happened in the past week, im going to break this up into a couple posts.
we all hopped in the bus and headed to tianbao to check out the dragon kiln out there, first stopping to buy fruit and wine for mr and mrs li. (owner of land)... omg... the kiln... holy huge! over 150 years old.. it is about 65 meters long... and i can stand straight up inside. it is fired around cone 5-7.. they said it will be fired once a month this year... mr li has alot of big orders... he makes these BIGGG coil-built pots. they also fire roofing tiles in this kiln, and sometimes work from students at JCI.
after checking out the place for a while, and enjoying the scenery, we headed to yaoli. and as i stated in the last post.. this village has plenty of history in the walls. most of the buildings have been renovated, but still standing are some ming dynasty buildings. we walked along the river with chao ming half-answering our questions as his english is okay, definitely not great. he always seems to be in a rush.. and hes always worried about eating. lol. he is a funny guy. although when you really want the story behind something... "mmmm yes.. very good." isnt the answer you want to hear. i really think we just need to clone li chao a few times. that man is great! donna (a student with the hacc group) gave these kids some happy meal ninja toys.. totally made their day. so cute! she only had 3.. next thing we knew a bunch of kids were following us around. yaoli is known for the tea... we stopped into this place which i can only describe as a mao shrine where a family lives and sells tea. we sat and drank some tea.. and then got some lunch before taking off.
we got back and nick andres and i took a trip to walmart. what an adventure. nick bought a bottle of jim beam for 260 rmb.. like 40 dollars us. beer is like water out here, and the only liquor you can find is bijou (rubbing alcohol) we also stopped at kfc for some french fries and soft serve. had to get a quick american fix. as i threw away my trash a BIG rat came running out of the trash can.. freaked me out. i ran backwards almost tripping over a woman who was holding her infant as he peed on the sidewalk... i dont think i have mentioned that yet... kids dont wear diapers here.. they wear what i would call kiddie chaps. and they just go.. wherever. i guess thats how they potty train them for the squat-pots. ha. that was quiet a bit to take in all at once. instead of taking a taxi back... we hopped on some motorcycle taxis and headed back to the studio. that was fun! i think i have also forgot to mention.. the driving here in china, is insane. for the sake of not freaking my mom out, i will not go into detail.. i might just upload a video instead. ha. sorry mom!
after dinner we sat around a had some beam... with a little help from boomer, bob, and shawn.. nick and i finished the bottle. the rest of the group came back, and we had some laughs and sing alongs.. i ended up passing out. only to wake up to a flash light in my face... it was lafong(door man) when my eyes focused i realized he was standing there... in his jacket.. boots... and underwear. NO PANTS! and just pointed and yelled YOU HAVE NO PANTS!!! haha. i think i scared him and he ran off and came back with pants on... still kicking us out! lol so funny...
the next morning came quick, and it was time to take a trip to the big pot factory and decal factory. it was hotttt and muggy and it wasnt even 9 am yet. i think it was a combo of the heat, crazy driving, and the ill stomach (blame it on the beam).. i was lucky i had a window seat.. you catch my drift?
the big pot factory was cool. we started our tour seeing the trimmers.. then the kiln room.. then the decorators. while being surrounded by big pots.. like easy 10 ft high. forest of big pots! while all this is really cool, i was uber excited for the decal factory.
it might have been the excitement i had for going to the decal factory but i was feeling 100 times better, i was blown away by the decal factory. to all of my printmakers out there-- i see some colabs in my near future! so first, seeing all of the pigments--under/over glazes being made.. walking through to see a bunch of screen drying racks... plate storage room.. ahh. as we walked into the next room we were told not to take pictures.. as i was snapping a photo. oops. this room was unbelievable. there were about 50 women in rows in little work stations hand printing decals... inking the plate.. removing the ink.. running it in and out of a baby press.... repeat. soooo fast. i would have loved to get a video. i was amazed. and in a way.. a bit sad. i would say my pity for them hit when i walked into the next room... where two or three people operated a screen printing machine.. still semi manual... but nothing like the previous. the amount of screens stored in this area was crazy. all of those decals were underglaze decals. the last part of the factory was the overglaze decal printing room. overglaze decals can be more detailed with numerous layering of different color glazes. they are fired at a muchhhh lower temp, on top of an already fired piece. there were two large screen printing machines about 4 or 5 guys per machine. the machines printed sooo fast. and were connected to a mechanical drying rack that had to be at least 50 ft long. then ran through again for the next layer of color once dried. repeat.
before that trip to the decal factory, i kind of knew i wanted to start using decals in my work... patterns on my line sets to be exact. i purchased some and did some tests while glazing all of my pots. the one thing that i find to be really crazy when it comes to glazes.. is the colors that are achieved at such high temperatures. i doubted the guy who spoke pretty good english at the glaze shop when he told me that the bright orange and green glazes i bought were cone 10 reduction glazes.. just thought he couldnt understand me. and decals... i guess i just thought they all were fired at uber low temps. but the underglaze decal i bought go to cone 10.
back to the studio to load the gas kiln. yayayy. the kiln is pretty small... and with 1 1/2 weeks worth of 10 ppls work, i was for sure thinking that not all of my work was going in. while most of my work being small... there was alot! and the hacc group's work had priority bc the were leaving. i wasnt going to be upset if my work didnt get in bc i knew we would have another firing... but when li chao came in and took over loading... damn ive never seen a kiln packed so tight. almost everything went in. some pieces broke... you know the whole once firing thing makes things a bit more risky... i only lost one bowl. and everything else of mine went in.
forgetting that the night before.. i told hannah #2 that i would go on a bike ride with her... it was time to do so. 90 degree weather.. feeling like 95, with humidity at 85%.. scattered showers and a slight hangover. myself, hannah #2, nick, chris, and jake went on a bike ride to sanbao... i think i sweat out all of the beam from the night before. yuck. we made it to sanbao. sanbao is a little ceramics art institute in the middle of nowhere, with studio space.. a little restaurant and shop. the ride was about 4 miles there.. uphill-ish. not well paved roads.. we relaxed for a bit had a beverage checked out the kiln.. and hannah wanted me to go further... somehow i agreed. the ride only got more intense as we were actually riding on a road that was winding up a mountain. at some points having to walk our bikes up. i think i made it about another 2 miles. and called it quits. i was worn out, and i didnt want to miss dinner... the ride back was much better.. you know all down hill.. a bit terrifying at times bc the drop off was steep and the road was windy. but the view was great. just being in the mountains.. riding along a river.. coming across what i think was kaolin mills every so often. it was worth the jello legs and sore ass.
i made it back for a quick shower before dinner... and this was bob's last dinner with us. that night he flew out to shanghai.. then back to the states.. leaving us in boomers hands. yikes! lol jk.
i have so much more to say.. but its late.. and tomorrow is the last day to make work.. i dont even want to talk about how upset this makes me bc that means im leaving jingdezhen soon =( i will try to post more tomorrow.. about the lotus buddah temple, unloading the kiln, KTV, and so much more. but here are some photo from my adventures.
so much love, from the other side of the world.
welp. all i can say is wet. everything is wet. its been raining like crazy. luckily we have a dry room at the studio... with a dehumidifier and some heat fans bc i can leave my work uncovered and its still super wet a day later... with the short time im here id like things to dry out quickly. since ive been trimming bone dry (which ive become pretty good at) i can skip the leather hard stage and not worry about things drying out... and things can stack up and be hanging out bone dry till whenever i get to them. its actually pretty nice... only down fall is sharpening tools... id like to hire a tool sharpener... 5 rmb a tool... any takers?? ha.
so i would say i packed on the heavy side... and just now needed to do laundry. which came at a bad time... i could pay someone to do my laundry... but i get it back wet. there are no dryers. so i did my laundry myself... all of my clothes have been hanging for two days now.. still wet. talked to li chao.. theres a laundry matt somewhere with dryers.. i must go.
so we have friends in the studio... giant spiders.. most of you know.. normally im not one to get scared of spiders, these i can look at when they are still.. but as soon as they start moving, i freak. they are so fricken fast.. ahh. id say they are about 3-4 in long.. and i guess those are small. also mosquitoes are really bad out here.. im bit up. and some bites look bad.. swollen and red bigger than a quarter, nick keeps telling me they are spider bites, but im pretty certain hes giving me a hard time bc i freak out every time i see one of those giant freaks.
GLAZING!! so i mentioned before we are once firing everything instead of bisque firing bone dry stuff (bisque firing is a very low firing.. usually cone 08-010 which makes the pots no longer clay, but porous enough to absorb the moisture of the glaze before the glaze firing, in other words.. it makes it a whole lot easier) so with the bone dry wares.. we apply the glaze... carefully bc the bone dry clay absorbs moisture and since its still clay... it can just crumble if it gets too wet. even more careful if the work is thin (bc theres less room for moisture to be absorbed).. which mine is! so glazing takes a couple days. I started with almost 70 lil cups and bowls.. i lost 4 just applying the liner glaze (liner glaze is the glaze on interior of the pot) the glaze studio is not attached to our work studio so we walk them over on boards... no big when its not pouring outside... then after the liner glaze is applied.. put it out in the sun to dry.. not when its pouring.. so back to our studio space into the dry room... lol. i am continuing my glazing technique of resists, and multiple glazes.. so again... LONG PROCESS. and i bought some underglaze decals which is more work... but hey. i do what i do bc i love it. and every time i try something new, and i get better and quicker. so at the end of today... i have 61 pots glazed and ready for the gas kiln which will be loaded thursday. i am uber excited. ive tried some very new things. load thursday fire friday unload late saturday. ahh so excited.
so our lil artist talk and image share went very well.. we did it right after dinner... so everyone was there.. afterwards quiet a few people came up to talk to me about my work.. with great compliments and great suggestions and references to research. also li chao came to my space and told me he wanted me to start working on my figurative sets while im here... so i started. :) after the talks... andres hannah #2 nick and myself went to an artist talk at the pottery workshop.. which is studio in town... it was an american potter.. so it was in english then translated.. which was nice bc the night before i sat through a lecture in chinese... and the slides werent even that interesting lol. the american artist was mat rude.. worked under don reitz for awhile.. and now teaches at iowa(i think) i actually think ive seen his work before i do know i have read an article of his about the drinking vessel when i first learned how to make a handled drinking vessel in my into to throwing class. it was also really interesting to watch and observe the translation.... on our walk back we couldnt catch a cab.. bc they were all taken.. bc it was pouring.. go figure. but this young chinese guy came up and shared his umbrella... i was surprised when he asked what i had though of the lecture,... his english was pretty good... but im sure i was talking to fast for him to understand.. then parted ways.. and it was back to the rain for me.
its funny how ive seem to make friends with the locals.. and not even able to speak a word to each other.. there are two ladies at the store i go to... who just love me.. they talk to me even tho i dont know what they are saying... i went there last night and they had me take pictures with them. they are so cute. also our cooks... i love them... myself and a couple others helped with dinner friday,... and that was sooo much fun. me being the goof i am... was dancing and making funny noises.. so demamma makes me do this lil dance almost every time i see her... which is at least 3 times a day. bob from harrison bought cake for us a couple nights ago... i think the women thought it was my bday.. they brought out candles and started singing happy bday... then put frosting all over my face. lol. demamma and her husband (our door/beer guy).. come in and sit in my work station sometimes... and we just try to talk.. lol which ends up being demamma trying to talk... and then just laughing alot... or the door man (i need to know his name) making fun of my piercing... or just repeating everything i say... he brought me some mystery fruit today while i was glazing... it was good... but when i asked what it was.. nick said a crapple... bc every time he eats them.... well yeah you get it. lol. again all lies. i really do love this place. and im already sad im leaving jingdezhen in 12 days... i feel at home... away from home. and im making alot of work which is great. bob and li chao both told me to come back for fall semester... i said i cant bc it would put me back a semester... bob is convinced that it can be worked out. im almost tempted. seriously. li chao also told me i could come here for my masters. bob said no... not to jci, bc the cirriculum isnt right. i do know i will be back tho. i just hope its sooner than later.
oh and everyone on this trip is sick.. and all on z-pacs... it started with becky.... jake.. boomer.. andres.. carman.. nick... donna... and i thought i was invincible or something... but i woke up today with a sore throat, an ear ache and stuffy nose... bob is going to get me a z-pac tomorrow.
i think this is the first time i complained a bit... about the rain and being sick... but still... nothing could get me down from this high. i truly love china. and clay. =)
OH! last night we went to k-tv... which is karaoke... BUT.. you get a private room and all this jazzed up ish. even our own bathroom.. WESTERN BATHROOM! but apparently they were about to close so they just gave us a free hour... with no booze... which makes karaoke kinda hard. and the rumors are true li chao is an amazing singer.. and performer. he is def my fave by far. i did lady gaga.. bad romance...(really bc no one was singing and it was kind of awkward...it took alot out of me to do it). first time ever to sing karaoke completly sober. and i am BAD... not good at all. lol. so since we didnt get the full experince last night we are going again saturday before the harrisburg ppl leave.
tomorrow we are going to see REAL ancient ming dynasty villages(tam bao and yaoli--- sp?). chris explained that most of the villages of ming dynasty were burned down... but this village was really smart... and they wrote mao-ist propaganda on their walls so when the red army came through... they couldnt destroy it. i guess you can still see some of the red paint... so ill be charging up my camera battery tonight!! and im sure my next blog post will correct any misunderstood info/ history. thursday we are going to the decal factory.. which im excited about... im looking into getting some made... =)
thats it for now. ill leave you with some studio pics. and pics with my new friends.
peace and love from jingdezhen...
ps... forecast: 93 and sunny tomorrow.... then thunderstorms and high 80s for the next 10 days. ha. laundry mat needed.
steph galli-- china summer 2011 and fall 2011