With only one day left in Jingdezhen before heading back to Kunming, we realized that it might not be possible to see everything we’d like to. And for a process like wood firing, much more than one day is needed to see each phase. As we arrived on a loading day, the rest of the process will have to be saved for next time.
Although he has only been using wood fire kilns for about 3 years, as with any skill, natural ability seems to be able to offset this relatively short amount of experience. His mindset and attitude have also helped him to develop a reputation for results and quality, applying 110% to his work in terms of focus and energy.
He described this very labour intensive work as a ritual – not necessarily a solo one, but one that involves the effort of his father, father in law and helpers. For him, this work also creates a bond between generations, allowing knowledge and skill to be passed on.
The effort required is not just in loading and placing pieces into the kiln, but required for the multi-day duration of firing, which needs constant supervision and a consistent temperature to be maintained. The lengthy and costly process can produce excellent results though.
As we entered his studio, the results of his hard work lined antique wooden cabinets. The cups sat motionlessly, each one with its own unique colour and pattern, teased out by the fire after many hours in the kiln.