Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clean Street

We walked home a different route from The Pottery Workshop to our dormitory thru a side alley we named Clean Street. This is the cleanest little street I've walked thru while in China. There was no garbage or litter and everything seemed to be in it's place. This little street spoke to an earlier post of mine that talked about being house proud. The little houses seemed to be nicely kept. I also like the brick work along this street. Nice to know there must be a bricklayer in town that shares my love of gnar-gnar oozing slip or in his case morta .

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hawkers and theives

This morning at 6:30 I went to the shard market to look at the fakes and the real McCoys. This market is supposedly Black Market goods since some are genuine antiques and some are genuine fakes. They have even perfected taking a bottom from a shard and cutting if off and adding a new top so that it looks real. Dipping it in some acid and a tub of dirt doesn't hurt rising the price a little either. There has to be over 500 vendors and one would wonder who the blazes buys these pieces of pottery. Business has been brisk each morning I have attended. A guy from the BBC had me do some dickering of price for him on a bowl that he liked. Check out the faces of the hawkers. There was our on Danny Crump with his own display of fakes antiques.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Qing Hua Performance Artist

Qing Hua Capital of China- Blue and White. Our Young Danny Crump has been planning his performance art piece for months now. He made a bunch of hand built highly decorated plum vases to take to the Shard Market to sell to the locals. The shard market is really a black market of fakes and real antiques. How to tell the fakes from the real ones is any ones guess. Danny has practiced his Carnie spiel in Chinese. He has hand printed some business cards and is going to start the bidding on his vases at 1000 Yuan ($130) and dicker with anyone that shows some interest. The market is from 6:30 to 8:30 probably before the cops get up, as if they don't know it exists. I'm going to buy a packet of smokes to hand out to customers and plan to offer him 500 Yuan just to see the reaction of the merchants. If the gang doesn't kill him it ought to be a good laugh. Email him and tell him you'd have paid 5 times the asking price!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

That's the brakes

We went to get some decals and tools today with 6 foot 5 inch Zack from Oklahoma. Zack is here for a year teaching English at Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute. He is of Scottish African American decent so with his Afro hair he really turns heads on the streets. The women in the decal factory had a great laugh.
Here is a wagon load of ashtrays being pulled down mainstreet. See the rubber tire hanging at the back- that's the brakes. If he gets in trouble going down hill he just sets the load down on the rubber tire to help hold it from sliding down hill.
Kiln shelves anyone! There are dozens of store fronts that just sell kiln shelves and posts.
Most of the pool tables are out on the street where life goes on around the game.
Here is a wagon load of stuff to be packed up on this truck. You can see some big vases at the back of the truck. How anything will survive this truck ride is beyond me.
The last pic is the Zack Attack of the woman supervisor at the decal factory. They got a big laugh out of his hair and Atom Ant glasses.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Beer Bottle Mashing

Last night we had a Thanksgiving in China the best we could prepare American style. Since mi fan (rice) is served with every meal including breaky we thought we all missed our staple of good ole potatoes. First of all butter is no where to be found but John did find some Nestle's cream and we added chives, and garlic. Since necessity is the mother of invention we had to use a beer bottle for a potato masher.
Trevor loves these hand forged knives and the cutting board is made of hundreds of pieces of bamboo so he chopped the garlic and chives. Here is Perry mashing the pototoes with the beer bottle masher. It had been a long time since Alix had eaten pototoes so she opted to lick the bottle clean. Alix is the youngest on the trip and stepped up and took charge of the dinner. She was going to make apple pie but there is no oven available so she woked the apples in brown sugar and they were a delicous treat. Here is our table complete with fruit, a green salad, seeds, nuts, mashed potatoes, green beans, duck and beer and wine to wash it all down. It was a great feast with some fantastic fire crackers afterward.
You know you've been away too long when the highlight of a Thanksgiving meal is the mashed potatoes. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Adjusting my meds

I came down with a bit of the flu last week. It started out like a bit of food poisoning but then ended up with aches, pains, sweats and then the chills. Nothing that 24 hours in bed didn't cure. I figured I'd go check out the local Chinese pharmacy for a cure to cleanse my system. After visiting there I immediately felt better. Here is the lady behind the counter with drawers and drawers of weird and wonderful things. Here is my classmate Bang Men holding up some kind of lizard that is to be boiled in water and then you drink the tea. I didn't dare ask what the elk toes were for.
I decided I'd drop by my favourite fruit stand instead. A bag of 4 Mandarin oranges and a bunch of bananas- 5 Yuan (65 cents) is my health kit. I'm addicted to the oranges and usually eat 4 a day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Paint Town

Once again in this land of specialization the prospects of making your own glaze from scratch is next to impossible. You just can't seem to source the raw materials. You go to glaze road where all the glaze makers are and buy your glazes already made. You can buy it in plastic pop bottles. This one glaze shop looks a bit like a kinky sex shop but they are the glaze samples. We had to wake the lady from a little nooner to get served. She awoke with a smile and spoke very good broken English- what a relief! Here is Danny with his bottle of copper red. He has plans for a performance art piece next week. Stay tuned for your foreign correspondent to get it on film.


Here is the tile wall on my walk to the studio each morning. Just inside the gate is one of Mr. Jin's water jars that has seen better days. A third of the bottom is gone probably from neglect or ice. What a fabulous big jar it must have been!
Inside the gate is my friend the gatekeeper. He attends the gate and sells us water, coke and beer. No matter what time of day or night he always responds to me "Pijiu?" which means beer. I don't know why that is all we have to say to each other? Some of the students drink a beer with lunch and buy a case from him for their poker games at night. Beer is probably the safest thing to drink here. I get a bing pijiu (cold beer) from him every night at beer thirty (4:30). Here he is showing off his new fake Nike's with the red stripe. We all think he bought them on the beer profits from this group. His wife who is one of our cooks drops by the studio with her Chinese Harley trike to pick up the garbage. Here is the gatekeeper in Chinese high security alert. They are both wonderful people and we love them both dearly.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I love you

Tonight we were invited to our Chinese collegues wedding. Qi Ming usually sports his army fatiques but tonight was all decked out in his best bib and tucker. His bride looked especially beautiful. As customary we were all given cigarettes so Danny, Trev and I put them in our mouths to look the part. I figure we're all up to 2 packs a day anyway with everyone from the teacher to the taxi driver constantly puffing on the ole smolieolies.
The firecrackers went off and the confetti flew as the bride lit the candles. There was of course a Chinese feast of food that included Mrs. Hen here and there's our Young Danny Crump using the turtle shell to suck back the turtle meat. The kid has a cast iron stomach.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wally World

It's raining and miserable here in Jingdezhen so I thought maybe a trip to Wal-Mart would provide some interesting photos for y'all. I guess you knew I'd head for the food section to see what I could show you to gross you out.
Thought you'd appreciate the bacon and sausage piled up in the aisles and then of course Mr. Duck cut open stem to stern provided a great photo. Nice to see the kids taking advantage of the free library. I then went over to the liquor section to pick up something for my snake bite kit. Feel a little tickle in my throat so I got a bottle of Gordons Gin for 80 yuan ($10.47). The Chinese booze is in these nice clay bottles.The last shot is from the parking lot at Wally's. You can see the little mom and pop restaurant across the road and the demolition going on around to make room for progress. If this really progress?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Handling my gin

Well, I got my thrill of a lifetime. I got to put the handles on some of the pots of the Chinese equivalent of my early potter hero -Issac Button. Mr. Jin was on cruise control and spent a lot of time teaching his technique to all that showed an interest. What you're looking at is a few hours of his shuffling around the glaze bucket slash wheel that he hand built his wonderful coil pots on.
I got to put two handles on a jar that we named Little Fong because it resembled the shape of the gate keepers son. Mr. Jin then asked me to put 3 handles on the other jar. This one is a killer jar. He dubbed me King Handle. That's an easy title to earn since this is not a nation of handle makers.
John made some lids and additions. He made a lid with large coil handle and a lid with a huge knob that were proportionate to the scale of the pots. Mr. Jin enjoyed all this fussing over his work. He did make covers for the pots but they weren't really lids per say. He said that they were just to keep the mouse out of the rice.