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.