We are planning on doing a wood and gas firing this weekend, so this morning a few friends, and I hopped on the ol' bikes and set off to check out a few glaze shops. I am glad that we do not have these glaze shops at home because I would have learned nothing about glazes, except to say "one kilo of this glaze please." There are so many colors and types of glazes to choose from, it is really fun.
In the afternoon we went to check out the ceramic symposium fair. There were vendors of all types, and an international exhibition that contained some top notch work. By the time we left I was feeling a bit un-ceramic.
Right now in Jingdezehn there is an international symposium happening this week. During the day visitors from all over the globe have been coming into the studio to check it out.
During this time I was sure to check out of the studio. I went to a few galleries and bummed around the city for a bit on my bike, which is always fun and exciting (the bike repair man and I are becoming increasingly good friends, due to the fact that my bike seems to be slowly falling to pieces).
In the evening I attended a lecture given by a Norwegian artist on the art of design, and the design of craft. This was easily the most informative, and humorous lecture I have ever attended ( as you can see not everyone was as excited as I was). I left the auditorium buzzing with excitement and possibility. The information shed light on concepts that I have been thinking of for a while, but unable to articulate.
In the morning we bummed around the city for a bit, checked out a few more studios, visited a dragon kiln, and one last gallery before loading up on the bus for the trek back to Jingdezehn. The ride home was amazingly beautiful as we passed through the mountains. Riding the bus was also nice because it gave so much time to be still.
Yixing is teapot mania. Today I looked at more teapots than I could have imagined. The street that we were hanging out on is full of shops that are full of teapots. Looking at so many teapots was interesting because it made me think about why I am drawn to specific teapots and not to others, and how that same idea overlaps into almost all things in life.
I bought a sweet little teapot that I am excited to use.
In the evening we went to a classy coffee shop. I had way to much tea, and laughed a lot. The sunset is from the coffee shop window and the glass is my artsy green tea photo. Back at the hotel we put our new Yixing wear to the test.
We started off the day by going to a part of the city where a lot of up and coming tea pot makers (20ish years experience) have their studios. I was told that most of the masters (40ish years experience) have private studios, or work at home. I love this idea of doing the same job for such a long time and getting so good at it (especially if you like the job).
For most of the morning we walked around this huge building of studios and peeked in, and hung to watch the making.
In the evening a few of us went roller skating at an outdoor concrete rink (let me emphasize the word concrete). There were these little kids racing each other, it was so funny because they were really into and their parents where standing around cheering them on. The little dude in the yellow helmet might look small, but his skating skills are mighty.
We were shown around the town this morning by a really nice friend of our lao ban (boss). He took us to his gallery and then to his workshop. I think he is more of an overseer than an artist. He also took us to see a 600 year old dragon kiln. The kiln is a historical site, and they still use it, but not for teapots anymore. I was wondering how many teapots could fit into one of these huge kilns.
We then went to the Yixing historic museum. Yixing is historically an area know for making extremely well crafted teapots, that are not glazed. When we first had tea using the traditional type of teapot I laughed a little to myself because the teapots and teacups are so small, and I thought I would never get enough tea. By the time we where done I was having a hard time looking at a cup of tea. The cups small is actually really coo., because it creates a really intimate situation. The fact that the cups must be refilled so often is a way to keep everyone dependent on the server, which keeps everyone more connected to one another.
We loaded a bus for the city of Yixing today. The trip started at 9 am and we arrived at about 8 pm. The bus ride was fun. We traded seats often and just bumped around staring out the windows, reading, bs-ing, ipod-ing, and watching 007 movies (talk about adventures).
From the window I saw this huge red object on the horizon. This red sculpture was easily the most impressive piece of public art that I have ever seen, it stood at least 150 feet tall - massive.
The hotel was really nice, it was in a quiet area, and when we arrived the stars where sitting about for viewing. The fresh air was welcome.
Yixing is about three times as big as Jingdezehn, boasting 3 million inhabitants.