Driving in China is not really an option. Firstly because I would need a Chinese licence (this can be overcome) and secondly because I value my life. So instead I’ve been having a go at sitting behind a different kind of wheel. This one stays indoors and can be found at a local ceramics studio hidden in a very far corner of an anonymous car park. It would have stayed undiscovered if it hadn’t been for an article in a local magazine and a little encouragement from a new German friend.
The studio itself has various artists working together. They make and sell their pieces as well as teach local adults and children how to make pottery. The teacher we have worked with so far is a funny young man who makes beautiful pieces but speak little English. We are persistent in coming back week after week so slowly we are starting to understand each other. Some Mandarin, some English and whole lot of hand gestures make for some pretty good afternoon entertainment. The clay mostly looks bewildered…
I didn’t know much about pottery before, other than being obsessed with cute bowls, but slowly I’m starting to understand the lengthy process and getting more comfortable on the pottery wheel. I somehow always imagined clay flying in the air when thinking of a first attempt on a potter’s wheel. Luckily this has not yet been the case although a lot of it has ended up on the recycle pile.
After a bit of practice I have managed to create some things that look like familiar objects although the teacher keeps saying everything is tài xiǎo le (too small). I keep forgetting that each piece shrinks by more than 20% once all the water has evaporated. And of course I have trouble making larger pieces since they are so much easier to mess up… but as with learning Mandarin, practice practice practice.