Monday, October 29, 2007

Jingdezhen playground

Everywhere you turn in this city there is clay activity. Pots are everywhere in the daily lives of these people. Here some kids find a pile of shards to play in on their way home from school. In the streets around their playground are pots being transported. I can't imagine packing my pots like this to transport them down a bumpy road. I also wouldn't want to carry a ware board full of pots like this.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I thought clay came in plastic bags????

On my bike ride today I could hear the wooden hammers breaking up the clay for processing. The guy takes a sledge hammer and breaks the pieces down to feed into this hammer mill and then the smaller rocks are shoveled into the holes for the wooden hammers to crush. The powder is then added to the pools of water for slaking and then pumped into the filter press to make big pancakes of clay.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Go Big or Go Home

We visited another big ware factory- how boring is that!!! This factory is just a minute or two from San Bao and is really quite a nice contemporary factory. Check out the sectional throwing that is stacked bone dry with a thin layer of slip over the seams and then it is trimmed to shape, decorated by these ladies on tables, chairs and ladders and the top section is added later and fired in place. Remember folks these pots are all moved by human beings not fork lift trucks! Here is a pic of Danny and Bobby playing monkey steals the peaches. Let your imagination and the stupid grins on their faces answer what that game is all about.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Women's Work

We visited a factory that did beautiful reproduction work of the different dynasties. The studio was well lit and comfortable and the women were happily decorating some absolutely beautiful pieces. The time and skill involved in decorating these pieces was way over the top from what I thought went into them. What was I thinking????? I loved the tall neck vase the woman in orange was decorating. The finished piece was in the showroom for 6500 yuan or about $870 bucks. I don’t think decorating these pieces would be an easy task after a night on the town and the morning after shakey hand. Check out the age of the young girl in training to be a decorator. No art school for this kid!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Moth Balls

Here is my plate after finishing a meal. Bobby Free and Danny Crump have been known to put almost anything in their mouths. They have eaten dog, squirrel, snake, eel, frog, duck tonque, fish eyes, chicken heads and feet or anything on a dare. I told them they’d eat moth balls if they could the legs apart. Since almost any meat has a bone in it you just pick it out of your mouth and put it on the table. Sometimes you just spit in on the table. Check out the pile of compost in front of Bobby. His place setting almost always looks like that. Not only does he love the food here but he has a hollow leg. Here is Danny and Bobby chawing down on a piece of raw sugar cane. While waiting for them to pick up their sugar treat I snapped these two pics. One is a guy delivering some raw glazed pots to a kiln somewhere in the city and the other is a guy delivering bamboo to a job site probably for scaffolding.

The Brick Kiln

The kiln is a giant open donut. The boys are unloading the one side of the kiln. Notice how the bricks are stacked floor to ceiling and then the bricks at the top of the wall are the roof which is then covered with crushed dirt. We walked on the hot roof and saw peoples shoes starting to melt. You are seeing people walking on top of thousands upon thousands of fired brick. I hope you get a sense of how big this kiln is. The boys are on the other side of the donut stacking the green bricks for firing. Small bits of wood and coal are fed into the lower fireboxes to light the bricks on fire for their self firing. Here are your accomodations after a hard days work.

The Brickworks

I need to present two blogs to you on this most fascinating place of hard labour- the brickworks! We walked over a hill to see piles of bricks drying in the sun. See any pallets anywhere or any forklifts???? Every single brick is hand bombed. I’ll show you a picture of the Chinese forklifts complete with bamboo handles. First this is the pug mill where you see some blue material that is critical to the mix but no one seemed to know what it is was but it was said to make the bricks harder. You will also see some black powder on the right side of the pug mill hopper. This is coal that is added to the clay. The coal is added to the clay by up to 30% so that they can start a low fire in the kiln and then the bricks combust and fire themselves. How ingenious is that??? The long pug is then fed thru this series of cutting wires to make the bricks. They are then piled in fences with small air spaces to let the wind and the sun dry them for the firing. Wait till you see the kiln!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wally World's Impact

This morning at 6am we took a taxi to Walmart. Not that I wanted to set foot in Wally World although I understand it is quite a different experience than you might expect in America. Want to buy a live shark!!!!
Across from Wally World is an an alley called the Antique Shard Market. It is open from 6-8am on Mondays and Tuesdays and is a collection of shards and pots. You must have a discriminating eye to pick a fake from a Song dynasty 800 year old pot. Young Danny Crump and I had a ball dickering with the merchants over the price of pots. When a dicker got going the merchants would huddle around us and laugh their faces off at our attempts to lower the price. Prices on some of our purchases dropped from 200 Yuan to 20 Yuan. I got my numbers mixed up and offered 18 yuan for a bowl that the guy was asking 2000 Yuan for. The crowd of hustlers howled with laughter.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mother in law blue

So your mother in law likes everything you make as long as it's blue. Here is a pile of pots destined for a lot of mother in laws. Man, what an ugly blue! Either someone made a mistake or there are a lot of people out there with bad taste.
Here is another picture of the planter alley I showed you before. Just when you think you've seen enough planters another couple of thousand reappear.
The most dangerous part of traveling in China is crossing the street. Check out this intersection. How do you know which way the traffic is coming at you. The best plan is to pick up a book, start reading it and just walk. They will avoid you somehow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bra straps, whoppies and a joint

Here is a collection of 800 year old Song dynasty pots. The first shot shows the pieces of a wine ewer. The bottom of the pot has the whoppie that I consciously put in the bottom of all my pots. Here is an example of a whoppie made without pretence in a soft and coarse clay. I luv that nasty bit in the bottom. There were many little bra strap handles all over the place and I laid down my favourite and then I’ll be damned if I could find it again. The wee spouts are hand rolled and not thrown. I’ve been practicing making them and Iike them better than my thrown ones now.
Here is a stoneware saggar with a nice bit of glaze snot running down the inside and pooling in the bottom. The other saggar is stepped for bowls of increasing size inside of smaller bowls The bottoms of three nice carved celadon bowls would look nice framed and hung on the wall.
Walking back thru the bamboo forest John pointed out that the joint in a piece of bamboo is the reference for the shape of a foot ring on a Japanese Mashiko teabowl. Once again, it is nice to reference what you do!!!

Dumpster Diving

We all went to the opening of Caroline Chen’s new coffee shop “Nine Windows” last night which was followed by a talk and slide show by Torborn Kasevo(sp?) from Norway. Here is Young Danny Crump sitting at one of the tables in the cafĂ©. We were lucky to have every shard under glass in the theme of rabbit decoration. This prompted a morning Chinese equivalent of dumpster diving. We went out to the site of a Song dynasty bone yard. They were building a road which exposed layers of shards meters deep. It was very foggy and beautiful this morning. Here is John wading thru waves of saggars and pot pieces. We all got covered in burrs climbing thru the underbrush. I think burrs are the barbed wire of this site. The guy with the smug look on his face and the bad sweater wanted to sell us this vase for 5000 Yuan or about $650. Whose to know whether it’s the real McSong. We are going to the Antique market on Monday where they buy celadon bowls and bang them and chip them and soak them in tea brine and fool water to make them look old to sell to foreigners.

Referencing Your Work

Yesterday on my blog I showed you a teapot with an interesting lid where the little balls of clay moved in the hand built lid. John Neely looked at the blog and sent me this reference of a lotus flower pod. Go and have a look! My friend Bruce Cochrane has said that the strongest work is referenced work. Man, John sure nailed the reference of this lid.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yixing, eh!

In the city of Yixing I saw without any stretch of the imagination over a million teapots done in the traditional style. The teapots are about craftsmanship and they are absolutely beautifully made. The ones I like however were done outside of the tradition in a contemporary fashion. This little yellow teapot with the killer spout had this interesting lid where the little beads are hand built to move within the cavity they are set in . The knob moves too! The other set had a teacup and saucers with the squared off backside that I loved.
Here back at the studio I am working on a set of teapots I’m calling Yixing, eh! Double slab top permits the cutting of a lid with flange already good to go. The spouts I am rolling and I have just started doing a hollow double slab handle. Each teapot is an improvement from the one before.
Also thought you might like to see my Chinese Caddy. It is loaded with accessories- drum brakes on the front, bell, basket , back seat and custom black paint job. I’m luvin this hog!