Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The end of a beginning

Ok, so I am extremely glad to be home, and now I have a real view how lucky truly I am.  I am perusing a career that I am absolutely in love with and have a huge passion and drive for. On top of all that I have extremely supportive parents getting me started on the right track.  My house is covered in pottery because my mother is in love with NC pottery.  What more could I ask for as a potter at my age?
When I give a tour of my house it is so hard for me not to stop and talk about every pot on display (I am sure there re around 30 or so displayed at any given time while many, many more sit in cabinets).  I think it is because if you know the person who made the pot it is easy to see the characteristics of that person living in it as it sits on the table or it is being used.  Sitting down to eat a meal out of a warm inviting plate is like sitting down to a meal with a friend.  
The following morning of my return I ate a bowl of oatmeal out of one of Rons new bowls and drank some english tea (pg tips straight from england, I don't know what I will do when I run out) from a coffee cup by Doug Fitch.  These guys are two of my great friends and eating from their pots made me think so much of them and their characters.  A meal is a very intimate time for family and fellowship that I find necessarily wonderful.  Although I ate my breakfast physically alone yesterday morning I still found it enjoyable and warm because of the presence of my friends represented through their passionate work.  
This is the last post of my China trip blog.  i am going to continue to post my career as an emerging potter on a different blog.  I am planning on putting a studio and kiln together this summer which should make for some interesting writing ad information.  Before that I will be firing at school, and with local friends to get ready for a few shows and sales I have in the Spring.  I hope all of the readers will continue to read my blogs while I am working at home in Cherryville, NC.  Thanks to all!  

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

2008 olympics

I took this picture behind the pond which is frozen at this point.  There were even some people dumb enough to go out and walk on it.  Oh,,,,,and this s the birdsnest where the US gymnastics team dominated over the rest of the world. 
I just thought it was a nice shot.
Maybe this will help you understand how complicated it is.  
I got a sweet video of this one too, but I suppose it will have to wait since it is not cooperating 

And of course:  This is the building where Michael Phelps took on the swimming world.  If you did not know already Phelps dominated the world in swimming.  The lights go off at nine and there is nothing going on in there now.  I personally think they will just sit there and rot unless someone speaks up.

The trip to xi'an and Beijing

Of course we saw the terra-cotta soldiers.  I could not believe how amazing the history of this place was.  It was much like rome in that they were so far passing their time as far as technology.  There was a huge wall around the city where loads of museums were.  There was no way we could have seen it all in the the time we had, but what I saw was amazing.   This is only a view of pit one.  There were 3 pits total making up the Qin emperors tomb. Every time I said terra-cotta I thought of the way Doug says it.  I started calling them the terracotter army

Yes it is the great wall.  I tried to upload a video I had, but It was being fussy so decided to let it have its way.  You can see that this beautiful wall covered in snow goes on for miles and miles.  It is an incredible feat when you realize it was 223 bc when it was made and how quickly this wall was going up.

I made a snowman on top of the great wall to wish everyone a very merry Christmas.  I also did it just so I could say I did it.  I took loads of pictures from this trip and had a blast learning and going to museums in Beijing and xi'an.

Friday, 5 December 2008

jug Band

This is my kind of music. 
 

I should probably consider starting a band like this myself.

enjoy!


Last Full Day

I am only half way through with this day because I have to go and eat the last dinner which is on the foreign affairs office.  This morning was alot of fun though just goofing around with friends and packing slowly.  I shipped one last box this morning and then went and got a morning snack at the #1 bakery.  I got three little egg pies they really hit the spot along with a good bottle of milk tea.  mmmmm.  The milk tea was horrible when I got here, but now it tastes like chocolate milk so......I suppose that means it is about time to head out. haha.
This is the inside of the bakery.  Nothing here tastes as good as it looks.  I have tried many things in here but none of them are as rich and american/european as I think they are by looking.  The baked goods are very light and fluffy with funny flavors.  It does the filling job while I am here though.
This is some of the cakes of culinary masterminds.  Most of these are icing, and dont taste really great to me, but they make a great picture.   
At lunch I went to eat with some of the best friends I have made here.  James and Malay.  She is from Malaysia and likes to be called that.  She speaks 3 different languages and makes me teach her spanish while she teaches me malay.  Loads of fun.  She is a real trip.   
One of the dishes we had was this amazing eggplant, tofu, vegi dish.  I figured I would post a pic of it for everyone.  It was really tasty. 
     I have also been giving all of my clothes to James as it is getting cold soon and I am sure he will appreciate it.  I took all of the money from the sale and gave it to Rick to disperse among his students that need money to eat and stuff.  We are in a pretty poor part of China and the little bit of money I earned here (about 100 dollars) will go a very, very long way for a person that needs food.  
     Well..... It is getting time for supper here and all this typing of food is making me hungry so...... good morning all!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

2nd Sale day.

The last sale day was today and we sold a good bit of it.  Other than sitting around watching a bunch of chinese people buy pots I chatted with some of the people, ate a nice chinese lunch, and watched a movie.  Not a very active day, but I am gone to Carolina in my mind so truthfully I was not even really in China today.  I like to lean my chair back on two legs to pretend it is a rocking chair as I jam out to some of my favorite bluegrass tunes.  All the while my eyes are shut and I dream I am at home rocking on the back porch in front of a blue ridge sunset.  I can hear mom calling me in for chicken and dumplings from here.  Gotta go! 

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Sale Day and Beth Update.

Today was the sale day.  This is a picture of the setup from above.  It was booming in the morning, but the afternoon slowed a bit.  Overall I would say it was a success.  It will go on tomorrow morning as well.
This is one of the rabbits Beth has been working on.  She is doing a series of 5 or so of these babies.  I thought this one was so cool I just had to post it.  Her work has so much personality, and attitude.

The above view.  Really great texture.

Happy Birthday Joan!

This is a cotton candy maker we saw on the way to the restaurant for the party.  The place was decided on by Dorothy, and Rick purchased the cake.  The fun that I had with all of my chinese friends that night cannot be expressed in a mere blog.  I had a blast and I know Joan did as well.
She recieved so many cool gifts.  Look what our painting teacher made for her?  She made a huge paper cut for her with her name in it as well as fish and monkeys.  can you spot them all in this picture?
She also received this awesome wood cut from our history professor.  I was actually a little jealous.  He said he bought it out in country.  It smelled fresh cut and green.    
These are the guests present minus myself, Rick, and Lily.  Rick and Lily are pictured above.

Of course there was an awesome cake.  Those candles burn down pretty fast, but still left time for Joan to blow them out.  Loads of waxy chocolate and fresh fruit in there.  This may be the funnest meal I have eaten since I have been here.  So many language barriers present that we were all miming to one another and laughing hard about it.  It was a blast!  Good food, good conversation, and great friends.   What more could you ask for?

Underglaze Decal Factory

video
We finally found the right factory for the decals.  These are underglaze decals made from cobalt oxide and maybe manganese to make the color darker in some cases.  They wet the oxide down until it is a slip-ish consistency and smeer it into a steel mold type thing.  The mold has a very thin carving design of the decal on it.  Once the oxide is pressed in and excess is scraped away a piece of thin paper like tracing paper is placed over it and pressed onto the top of the mold with a large roller.  Then the paper is peeled away with the oxide design on it.  All you have to do in order to transfer it to a pot is apply it just like a temporary tattoo with water.  These things are pretty cool and super cheap so I bought a few sheets with dragons and things on them so I can make china gifts for people when I get home.    

Monday, 1 December 2008

Joans Birthday Message


Joans birthday is on the 19th of December, but she decided to advertise it being December 1st so she could share it with her chinese friends.  Today she received two of the sweetest letters I have ever read.  One being from James who wrote about how he hoped her birthday was so great.  You can really tell how much he cares for her because it took some work for this chinese boy to write a whole letter in english.  The second letter is from my indonesian neighbor who spent all afternoon making her a flute and writing a letter for her.  She talked about how it did not cost much money for the gift but it was more special because she spent time making it for her.  it was such a sweet thought.  The Chinese people here are so kind and thoughtful to people.  We can certainly stand to learn from people who do not have the many luxuries luxuries we do as Americans or Britans or whomever is reading this blog.  

First Day of December

Today was cleanup day in the studio.  Everyone worked hard to get thier areas clean for the pottery sale on Wednesday.  
This is my studio space all empty and abandoned.  I was done cleaning my area before lunch so I was able to enjoy the rest of the day outside exploring and doing some last minute porcelain shopping for Christmas gifts.
I took Joan out to lunch today at Mr. Woo's.  We had fried rice, sliced pork, and eggplant.  I cannot express how great the food is here when it is done well like this.  I ate until I thought I was going to pop!  This whole meal for two cost the equivalent of 3 USD.  Now that is a meal I can get used to.
As a matter of fact when I left the restaurant satisfied I was thinking how much I will miss real Chinese food.  I love me some down home sweet BBQ, but I think I will miss the food here more than I think.  mmmmmmmm good eggplant.

Ash Pit Tea Bowl


This is one of my tea bowls that fell into the ash pit.  It was one of the little series of 6 I did with loop trailing on them.  I think this guy turned out pretty sweet with the little bit of flash and the ash giving it some texture to go along with the trailing texture.  It is sometimes hard for buyers to understand a piece like this one unless they have a good understanding for wood firing and what it is all about.  Nic Collins makes his pots with loads of texture on them and when I was in Wales I asked him; "Don't people ever pick up one of your pots and ask how you would drink out of it without slicing your hands to ribbons?".  He responded by saying that those kinds of people are not the people who he wants to buy his pots.  If they don't like it then they just wont buy it.  He did not act like he had much of a problem with it either. He has a great artist statement here about wood firing along with an upcoming online exhibition that is pretty sweet.  I have been checking it out thanks to Doug posting it and found it pretty entertaining.  

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Walk near school

video
My dad requested I take a video of what it is like walking down the sidewalk here.  This is not some of the craziest sidewalk things I have seen here, but it gives you an idea.  I have seen quite a few accidents, people walking buffalos down the street, women holding their babies over trash cans to poop.  You name it and I may have seen it here.  I only wish I could capture all of the smells.  Their is so much to hit the nostrils here it is overwhelming.  Enjoy the video!

Awesome Chinese flute player

video
So this guy was playing in the street of town near the school.  This is a fairly common thing with all kinds of instruments.  I was really drawn to this guy though so I decided I would share a video with everyone.  Such soothing music.

The last Loading and firing

Brad standing proudly in front of his loading job.  We loaded yesterday.  Finished loading at five and fired until eight the next night.  So it was a 27 hour firing. 
There was also a gas firing happening which brought many more people to the glazing and loading area.
My first shift was at 5am.  Beautiful time of day.
John giving it one of the final stokes.  Seth in the background.

Mike shutting the door after the final stoke of a long firing.  He looks pretty satisfied to me.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Chinese Thanksgiving foot.

I suppose the thanksgiving around here is about food and good company much like at home.  These people decided they liked the company of the duck, but still wanted to have a tasty foot for supper.  They had the ducks company as well as the taste.

For those out there that do not know; they do not have thanksgiving here.  This duck also has 2 legs, but for some reason likes to stand on one of them at a time.  I was shocked when I first saw it so I figured I would share the excitement.  Hopefully it made for a good story.

Pictures from the 28th

I think today I took some of the best pictures I have taken so far.  The lighting was perfect for pictures of this beautiful place.
Can you see all of the little ducks playing in the rice field.
"Don't look I am naked!!" said the left pole.  I snapped a picture for you guys anyway.
Taken from right beside the kiln.  Now that is an inspiring view of mountains.

Farmer.

tian bao clay process.

As soon as I asked one of the workers if we could see the clay process he just pointed across the road toward the rice field and jumbled out some fast chinese to James.  Next thing ya know we are walking through this beautiful part of rural china.  Lots of rice ,as you can see, along the way to the clay pit. 
And here is a picture of the clay digging site.  Evidently they use loads of clay here, but I can tell you that this whole bottom is full of this amazing clay so there is plenty more awaiting use.  I absolutely LOVE digging and using local clays.  The smell, the feeling, and just knowing you are doing it the same way that the neolithic did it so many years ago.
This is a closeup of some of the beautiful grey seam along with a small piece of my shoe.  
This is the building where they take the clay to be processed.  Notice the tiles and piece of old broken jar on the very top.

this is a homemade pugmill where they do some de airing and mixing before use in the shop. Pretty sweet setup if you ask me.

Tian Bao trip #3

When I arrived around 9 in the morning some of the crew was working on loading the kiln with tiles.  Mr. Jin was not there, but I had a great time learning from the workers there for the day.
this is a shot of where they are in the loading process.  The kiln takes 5 days to load so they may not even be done loading in time for me to see a firing happen.  It was very cool to see the loading process though.  I love wood kilns, and especially groundhog tunnel style ones, like this so my heart was skipping everywhere while watching these pros load this monster. 
from the other direction near the loading door.  You can catch an idea of the slope in this one.
Good ash buildup on these old bricks.

Me chillin' with the loading crew.  These guys were great to me all day.  Any time it looked as though I needed anything they were right there to help.  They are very experienced hard working men of their field.