We arrived in Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital of China, on Monday. We didn’t know we’d be getting here just in time for the national fall celebration called the Mooncake Festival. Monday was one of only two days in the year, the other being Chinese New Year, that everyone gets a day off. Monday evening we went to a nearby park in Jingdezhen where the public square was filled with women dancing and colourful hot-air “wish” lanterns floating into the stratosphere. We sent up a wish for the good health and happiness of our family and friends.
We’re working at the Pottery Workshop, an international ceramic residency located in the centre of a traditional ceramics production quarter known as the sculpture factory. Nearly everyone living in Jingdezhen is involved in the porcelain industry. We’re surrounded by dozens of tiny workshops that contain artisans working in specialized skills such as model-making, mould-making, and underglaze and overglaze painting. We have access to all of these experts, for a small fee.
Throughout the week we’ve been taken on tours of various facilities in the area. Yesterday we went to Jingdezhen’s tile-making area, where family-run studios are producing porcelain tiles up to four metres long. All the methods are surprisingly low-tech and rely on techniques that have been around for thousands of years. And they still work!