Sunday, October 17, 2010

1st Snap Shot Sunday, A Chinese Handmade Movement Begins?

I had so much fun today and I knew that I would have to make this experience part of my 1st Snap Shot Sunday blog post!

This young woman, Nicki, is a teacher at my husband's school through a cultural exchange program with China called the Confucius Institute. She saw some of my pottery on a shelf in our house and was very excited and asked me to teach her! I've been super busy getting my ArtFire shop up and running and this was the ultimate stress relief. It took me back to those days when working with clay was brand new to me, watching her “pet” the clay, talking about the way it feels (luxurious, silky smooth). Me telling her “You'll have to carve deeper lines or the glaze will just flood that and the lines will disappear”, the same thing someone told me, among many other examples of gentle, supportive teaching that I have received from other clay artists along the way. Watching her throw on the wheel, which can be very intimidating to learn. She's an adept student and seems to be a natural. At least her ball of clay didn't fly off the wheel and hit the wall the way it did on my first spin!

We also talked some about pottery in ancient cultures, especially her own, Chinese. I told her how thankful I am for beautiful chun celadon glaze and many other Chinese contributions to ceramics. She mournfully said, “There is no more traditional in my country. All is new, like the West, the traditional is gone. It is sad.” China continues to modernize and globalize. I'm not a social or political commentator, but I do understand that there is a shift occurring in her country. China is becoming a world economic power. Must we always throw away the old? Our own country has gone through periods of modernization where the old was shunned and discarded in favor of mass-produced, shiny and new. But the handmade movement brings us back to our roots yet again. Perhaps the Chinese will have a handmade movement of their own someday?
This was the perfect remedy for me today and Nicki thoroughly enjoyed herself! It gets lonely being in the studio with no other humans. The mascots, LooDog and GidgetPup are good company, but they look at me funny when I get long-winded. Nicki's next lesson is a week from now. In the mean time, I've promised to keep an eye on the fabulous little flower pendant she made.

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