November 14, 2010

A Chinese student asked me recently what my first impression of China was. I paused for a long moment as I ruled out the inappropriate responses that were my first impressions: “It’s hot, it’s smelly, the food is greasy, the men aren’t wearing shirts, the buildings are drab….” and finally settled on: “The countryside is very beautiful.”

Today, my impression was that I am a giant in China. I went shopping for a coat, because it has cooled down and will only get colder. The first challenge was finding a coat that I liked, but an even greater challenge was finding one that fit. Finally I settled for a bright green puffy jacket that is size XXL!

We have three weeks left in Jingdezhen, followed by a little over a week of traveling, so it is crunch time in the studio. Last week, Mr. Jin, a coil builder, worked in the studio. He has been coil building pots for over 40 years and his skill is amazing. This was especially obvious when we tried our hand at coil building!



November 2, 2010

The past few days have been eventful around here. Since Saturday, we have said goodbye to visiting artist Jason Walker, celebrated the birthday of one of the West Virginia students, welcomed visiting artists Dan Murphy and Paul Dresang, and, of course, did our best to maintain Halloween traditions.

The birthday cakes here are pretty fantastic as far as presentation goes, though they fall short on flavor. Yes, this one does feature Santa Claus.

Dan Murphy is one of my professors at Utah State University, and all of us Utah Staters are thrilled to have him here. I am also vicariously reliving the joys of jetlag, the bewildering feeling of arriving in Jingdezhen, and being unsure if I could find my way back to the dormitories from the studio. His arrival has reminded me of how settled in I have become.

Language has been coming along a little bit, which also helps me feel more comfortable. My grasp of Chinese is still minimal – but even something as simple as asking for a price at a store AND understanding the response (without the assistance of pen and paper)  is extremely gratifying.

Last night, we had a Halloween party at the studio which featured pizza from the wood fired pizza oven, sweet potato chips, sunflower seeds…ok, so not very traditional. We did have some candy from the US, thanks to our recent arrivals, and it tasted almost too sweet.

Tomorrow morning, we are off to the new campus for the opening ceremonies for sporting day. Apparently our Chinese teacher is competing in the hula hoop contest, which makes the whole thing slightly more palatable. And then – back to work!