after a 15 hr train ride. we arrived in jingdezhen at about 4 am on the 28th of may. jingdezhen the "porcelain capital" is know for the production of chinese pottery dating over 2000 years ago. the history of this city blows my mind, as well as how the production of pottery is still working today. in comparison to shanghai... its smaller, but still big without the 'big city' feel. its definitely a poorer area of china. im feeling more in china. i must say, im not even sure if the culture shock is really going to hit me. for the most part i can communicate non verbally with the locals really well. and everyone is really nice.
so im here in jingdezhen for 3 week. ITS STUDIO TIME!!!! wvu has a great set up here at jingdezhen ceramic institute. we have our own studio... with about 20 individual work spaces, a little gallery, a kiln yard with a small wood kiln and soda kiln.. in the kiln room there are 2 gas kilns and a big electric... id say the best part of our area is the kitchen and dining area. we have personal cooks.. 2 very great women who cook for us breakfast lunch and dinner everyday besides sunday. and its some of the best food ive had here.
getting settled into the dorms has been the toughest part of this trip.. and even yet i dont think sleeping on 2x4s with no hot water (not to mention the eastern toilet system in a bathroom with no light)could effect me. ive been on this incredible high since ive gotten to china, and even more so since we arrived to jingdezhen. but someone messed up on our dorm room(bob and li chao were not happy at all!). and we were moved within two days. i must say i was really surprised that the dorms have AC units. YES!!!
the studio is great, the porcelain is difficult. and is taking some getting used to. but im pushing through it... hard! monday we had a master thrower come in and do demos for us... INCREDIBLE! he was a very cool guy too. i expected the 'masters' to be serious. this guy was great... when he was done.. i went back to work and he walked around the studio to observe... i got a thumbs up.. super-cool. so the pots he threw were left here for the 'master trimmer' to trim wednesday. the production of pots here is really interesting... one pot goes through 72 peoples hands before its ready to be sold. the thrower throws really thick... then the trimmer trims bone dry.... the trimming demo was again INCREDIBLE! i was in awe. and inspired.
I have been throwing off the hump rather than on the wheel head... throwing off the hump is something i dont normally do... so trimming has been quiet the challenge. i am also trying this whole bone dry thing. crazy crazy crazy. you really need extremely sharp tools. i have pondered what direction of take with my work while im here. i would love to continue with my line sets, but with the short time im here i think i would benefit the most by just producing as much work as possible... while experimenting with forms and glaze techniques. oohmygosh! thats another thing.... there is a street lined with glaze shops.. ive taken a trip already and purchased 6 different glazes. im really excited to fire our first firing next week. we are once-firing everything which is something ive never done... im hoping i dont loose many pieces... almost everything i have thats ready to be glazed and fired is pretty thin. im a trim-aholic! i am also looking into getting some decals made. which is going to be super-cool awsomeness for sure.
yesterday we visited some ancient kilns from ming and qing dynasty. some of these kilns are still fired today which is awesome! seeing these sites really moves me... standing in the firebox of these kilns was almost breath taking... i could imagine it would be similar to a painter seeing the mona lisa in person..but better bc its almost like im holding the paint brush. i can only imagine how i will react when we travel to xian and im standing there with the terracotta warriors. wow. in all honesty i dont want this trip to end... and i KNOW i WILL be back.
today we have a brush maker coming in... and i will be purchasing hand made brilliant quality brushes for an unbeatable price! thats exciting! and tonight after dinner the students both us from wvu and the other group from harrisburg will be presenting images of our work to everyone. i think its great, and im excited. usually im a bit nervous for artist talks... but im feeling pretty prepared, i have greg to thank for that... as it is required for his class.
i seriously could go on for days just talking about the studio... but for those of you who arent cerama-junkies. ill cut it there.
the prices here in china in general are low. everything is so cheap. even more in jingdezhen. i pay 1 yuan for a bottle water... 4 for a beer... 7 for a pack of smokes.... 1 us dollar = 6.48 yuan.
myself, nick, andres, becky, carmen, chris(studio tech) sean, donna and hannah( from harrisburg) went out the other night.... to the only draft beer place ive seen... we had 6 table kegs and 2 bottles of biajiu (insane moonshine-like booze). ha.. and i think the bill was 250. it was a fun night. i played it smart... bc i had been warned about biajiu... and one took one swig.. to say i tried it. some were less fortunate... and had plenty of trouble the next day. ha.
well ive spent enough time on this blog when i should be trimming! so thats all ive got for now... again sorry to those who arent clay people. feel free to ask if you dont know what im talking about.
much love for my homies on the other side of the world. i miss your faces, but i wouldnt be anywhere else in the world right now.
peace and love