Days Eleven & Twelve- Final Countdown
Day eleven started off with an hour of Taichi, then we went into a lesson about the chemistry components in pottery. One thing that I learned was how different materials create different colors (for example, iron is used in most color creations). After taking some more notes about chemistry, we then started our independent work time. Since day eleven was our last day in the studio, we had to finish up on all of our projects. However, my mad hatter sculpture and my teacup both broke so then I worked on mending my sculptures using slip and clay dust. Unfortunately, they kept on breaking, and so I was very frustrated. On the other hand, the pieces I had finished glazing a few days ago were out of the kiln. I was really surprised as to how they turned out, since the glaze was much more different than the color I expected. But, I still really liked the end result.
After lunch, we continued on our independent project time. To my agony, one of the people working there accidentally knocked down my mould piece and it shattered. But, since they were very nice people, I had the chance to pick out another mould piece. I picked a teapot with a long handle, since it reminded me of Aladdin’s lamp (which fits in with my Disney theme). Along with day eleven, the superintendents came to visit our studio and we had some fun talking them through our process. After dinner, we then had a brief hour to work on our projects one last time. I was very frantic, since I was not done with half of my glazing pieces. But in the end, I still managed to finish (though the quality of glazing went down by a lot).
Day twelve (today) was a day focusing on learning more about the traditional pottery process (since we are now out of the studio). We visited a pottery museum this morning, where we saw practiced potters work on each part of the process. I thought it was really cool how everything was handmade, and even the potter’s wheel was spun using a long wooden stick. This then led us to interview some of the people working there, where we learned that almost half the population of Jingdezhen has a career linked to pottery. After learning about how the process changed as time went by, we went to visit some of the traditional dragon kilns. Finally, after all that was done, we went to lunch. Lunch included a discussion about being a successful artist, and how pricing will affect being a successful artist. We learned about how pricing changes in different places, and how in Jingdezhen everything is more cheap due to there being so many artists. Post-lunch was a shopping trip for art materials. First off, we went to clay tool stores, where we bought needle tools and different sponges. Then, we visited more generic tool stores, where I bought a carving tool kit (and I was very satisfied by it). Finally, some of us chose to visit an art materials store, and we looked through it and hectically bought items (since we only had ten minutes). I was mostly happy with what I bought, though I really wish we could go back since time was very tight. This then led back to today’s blogpost, which is our final blogpost of this trip.
Today in Jingdezhen we went on a field trip to a porcelain factory. There we saw some porcelain masters making pottery. They were in different stations, some were throwing, some were trimming and some were glazing. The wellness of their division of labor surprised me. We also saw different styles of kilns. The picture below is the dragon kiln, it was shaped like a dragon coming down a hill.
During our free time, my interview group decided to interview some of the masters. He told us that he didn’t choose to do this job and that there was no choice since it was their family business. I learned that it takes courage and persistence to be a successful artisan. For him, he didn’t give up on his pottery life because of one little failure, and that was what shaped him to who he is today, a successful artisan. Yesterday we finished our personal project. One of my cups came out of the kiln in half. RIP. After that I glazed all my work. Tomorrow is our last day in Jingdezhen.
This blog post will be slightly longer due to the fact that we are putting 2 days into one blog post. Let’s start with Day 11, where all of us finished our final project and cleaned up the studio. Though it was a long process, using our technique of collaboration as a team definitely was much more efficient than other options. We had a lot of studio time yesterday and it was great to use our different techniques and skills that we learned over the past 2 weeks. I think my biggest accomplishment was getting things done, not procrastinating, and using the time and energy for productive things.
The beginning of the day started with some private ballet practice in the gym, followed by taichi, and we went to the glorified breakfast. I felt very productive and awake after doing my ballet practice and I was determined to continue this ritual even when I live in Shanghai or America. We had our blogging time at the studio and then we had our interdisciplinary class which was based on chemistry and the history, process, and materials to make and use clay. I think that this class made me have a better understanding of the program and the way clay is made of. This did end up being used when I was in the studio and I would decide what clay to use, which glaze to use, and even the temperatures of the kiln. All of these factors can change the outcome of the clay and I think that this class was very influential when I was working with the clay. The next thing we did that day was our A.I.R time. All of the members on this trip love A.I.R time. This is because we get to play with clay obviously and because it gives that sense of peace. Having hours and hours of A.I.R time helped us learn to focus on tasks. During our A.I.R time, we all were to finish our final projects. This final project consisted of plates, vases, roses, engraved things, tile etc. Everyone had the freedom of choosing what to make and how to present it as a project and that is one of the key things that the trip provided compared to a strict, classroom lesson where we only get about an hour every other day. This trip has provided us with memorable opportunities, and that is what I admire most about this program.
Going on to Day 12, we started our days as normal with some ballet class, taichi, and breakfast. This schedule for today was very different from the other routines. We went to a museum to see the process of how master artisans do their job. It blew my mind when I say these people whipping up a bowl in about a minute each or even less. We interviewed some of these artisans who have been in the industry for decades. One man who is a master thrower told us that 50% of the population in Jingdezhen have a job regarding porcelain and that is something that I really admire. This community of people working together in order to produce the finest of porcelain pieces is just crazy and astonishing. After our time at the museum, we had lunch at a very fancy dining room. The room was coated in velvet and though it smelled like smoke, was probably the best food that I had so far in Jingdezhen. We also went tool shopping for clay tools that we may use in the future. I bought lots of paintbrushes and one carving tool for the future and I feel more organized and content knowing that I could paint with an assortment of brushes. I also went to go buy a container/bag for all of the brushes that I got. I decided to get another sketchbook for myself because 2 books wasn’t enough for a 2 week long trip. I think that this whole experience raised my motivation and creativity to use different forms of art. I can’t believe how supportive and dedicated these teachers are to us students and our needs. I can’t thank them enough, for this is a memory that will last until the day I die.
Today is one of our last days here. Yesterday was our last working day in the studio. We started off yesterday with learning about the chemistry of porcelain and other rocks and minerals involved with clay. Then we moved on to our free air time. Since I made so many pots, I had so many things to glaze. So I worked on glazing everything, and experimented with making jewelry. We were kind of all rushed at the end thought because we had so much to clean up.
Throughout the whole trip, we have been thinking about how you become a successful artisan. That has been our main question from the start of Jingdezhen. We are also working on linking that question to ourselves and our work as learning to become an artist. I think that to become a successful artisan, you have to work hard and learn from mistakes and practice. I have definitely done that. Since I have made so many pots and plates, I have had much practice and learned new and better techniques.
Today we also went to a kiln museum where we saw many very old artists work on pottery making, glazing and carving. It was very interesting to see all the old way of throwing on the pottery and seeing the masters at work. Since they have had so much experience, they have a perfect technique and all their work is practically perfect.
I feel that throughout the trip, I have grown so much as an artist, and as a person. I have learned so much just in these past two weeks and made many new friendships. I have improved so much with my techniques and with my creativity over all. Thought all of our classes and air time, I have come up with my own ways of creating art and learning and improving while doing so. I feel that to be a successful artisan, you have to see the growth you have gone through. You have to think about the new techniques you improved and created on your own. You have to feel at peace with yourself and your art skill.
Last full day at Jingdezhen (and last day of studio time!!!!!!!!!!!!)!!!! 2 weeks go by so fast! I was thinking all morning. Yesterday (Wednesday), our school teacher “bosses” came to visit the A.i.R. Jingdezhen program. We were very proud to represent A.i.R. Jingdezhen as we said our favorite part of this A.i.R. program. I said that it was great because of the freedom and the choices that you rarely/barely make! I was also happy because I finished my independent project (tea set), and a random cake!!
Now today (Thursday), we went to a museum where all the master artisans make great ceramic pieces. They don’t use electric pot wheels like we do, they spin it with a stick to get up to speed and do their work. I interviewed one of the artisans on their lunch break and asked them questions based on our essential lead question “What does it take to be a successful artisan?”, and his response is another question, “What other job can I do that fits me?”. That made me ponder for a while. That’s when I noticed that to be a successful artisan, different people have been lead to been an artisan. I found out my own answer to that, ideas. That one is really important to me. Once I have an idea, that drives me on.
Old artisan’s artworks and processes:
We also learned a bit about art economy during lunch time today. Ms. Asp told us about how you don’t charge too less or else they will think that it’s fake, and don’t charge too much or else people will think it’s fake and/or they’re getting ripped off! Also, the region of sale depends as well. In Jingdezhen, China, you will get less money than what you earn in Florida, US, because in Jingdezhen, many people have the skill and there’s a lot of porcelain china here, so many people make them and it is divided among a few hundred thousand people (for example). Florida, on the other hand, china will cost for example >400$ per piece of china set! Because there aren’t a lot of them in Florida than in Jingdezhen (probably >60% of the people make pottery).
YOYOYO! Welcome back to the blog of Noe! Yesterday was day ten of AiR Jingdezhen and it was JAM PACKED with porcelain work. For one ID class, we learned about the different dynasties of China and each dynasty’s porcelain technique. My personal favorite was Qing dynasty porcelain. If I was an artisan and a time traveler (terminator style), I would travel back in time to the Qing dynasty because colorful and bright glazes were used. Other dynasties use three to four color glazes. like green, blue or red. The Qing dynasty has a vast variety of color. I prefer bright things because I find it more visually pleasing.
One task that 徐老师 gave us was to create a city flag for Jingdezhen. Here is what I drew:
I drew the kiln because if you visit Jingdezhen, you will notice that there are a lot of old, brick kilns. There are ruins everywhere! I drew the porcelain crusher because on our first day of Jingdezhen, we visited a crushing hut. The porcelain gets crushed into dust, then gets put through a sieve, then gets dumped in water for a couple days and THEN gets left out to dry. After it dries, the porcelain gets turned into bricks. I drew the old factory because if you look around, there are old factories all around. You can see the huge pipe like things almost everywhere you look in the ceramic arts avenue. These are obviously no longer producing anything. The factories use to be huge back in the day.
During our work time, I was moulding like CRAZY!I made at least seven new moulds yesterday! I made bowls, plates and even vases. I am very proud of the work that I have done so far. I plan to glaze all of my work today.
There are a lot of different dynasties, and all of them are filled with different stages of porcelain art making. Wu Dai, Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, and Qing Dynasty, are all of the different dynasties that harboured porcelain art making. But if I could choose out of all these different tages of porcelain making, I would choose Wu Dai. Wu Dai is where porcelain making started, with Qing clay, and White clay. Once Qing clay was fired it created a greenish colour. Wu Dai is where procelain art making started so I believe that I will be able to learn all of the traditional ways of throwing, trimming, carving and other techniques.
Learning porcelain at the original place, or the first known place where porcelain started would be very interesting because I really want to know how everything started and what a different from now. Of course, now, we have electric wheels we can use, but in Wu Dai, I would think that they had to do everything by hand.
Another reason why I want to live in Wu Dai is I can teach others on how to throw porcelain clay. Even though I’m not very good at it, I could improve and when I reach the right age I can start my own workshop and have people able to register and come in to learn how to throw clay or other things. This step would slowly lead to me dominating the district, then the country, and soon after the continent, and finally te whole entire world!!!! Haha, though, that would be great if it would actually happen. But nah, It doesn’t. Life isn’t always this happy and this, this, cheerful, I guess. Most of the time I think about world domination and it ends up not pretty. It mostly ends up in death, blood, and gore. Since if you want to be the head of everything, you must show how strong you are, and fight your battles.