Huaning & Yuxi Pottery

After couple of days in Jianshui , where we were working on some custom orders , we decided to check out the place called Hua Ning which is famous for glazed pottery. As we are going by public transport ( train and buses ) , it takes some time and transfers to get to the actual place at the edge of the Huaning town. It is basically one street with few shops representing either bigger companies or individuals ( potters ) . Many of them are closed because it’s close to the Chinese New Year and many people left somewhere else to spend those few weeks.

The clay for the local pottery is mined within the protected area and it is used as the main raw material. Can be used pure or in combination ( mixtures ) , yet the clay accounts for more than 80%, and is supplemented with rocks, etc. Every clay mixture producer has to hold the certificate and approval from health and food safety department as it’s being enforced by local government. Same applies to the final products in matter of glazing for the tea ware.

For the glazing they natural raw materials within the protection range, quartz sand ≤ 60%, firewood ash ≤ 20%, limestone (calcite) ≤ 15%, clay ≤ 15%, others can be added according to the glaze color requirements. Used water for pottery making is with a pH value of 7.0-8.5 within the range.

The main chemical components of Huaning clay are: silica, aluminum oxide, iron oxide, calcium oxide, magnesium oxide and other ingredients. According to the different requirements for clay materials for ceramic products, the ingredients are prepared. Glaze is applied to the pottery base using methods such as glazing, pouring glaze, dipping glaze, and spraying glaze.

Although the typical Huaning pottery is represented by big vases with green glaze , we are also finding very interesting pieces in different styles and colors. There are two types of glaze: open and non-open.

Huaning pottery is usually fired in two phases. The first phase is called blanking, and the firing temperature is usually 800℃-980℃. The second step is glazing and firing. Depending on the characteristics of the mud and glaze and the use of the product, the firing temperature is usually 1160℃-1300℃. Depending on the type of kiln, the firing time ranges from 10 hours to 168 hours.

Very limited amount of tea ware available and as we learned later , only some masters actually learned how to make teapots or gaiwans in Jing De Zhen. Traditional Huaning is mostly about the vases. We have managed to pick some interesting pieces and offering on our website. Should that be successful, we will be definitely back for more!

Yuxi Pottery

On the way back to Kunming we stop by the town Yuxi , which use to be famous for blue white pottery. mostly kitchenware like plates , bowls but also teaware like cups and gaiwans. It follows the traditional Chinese technique of painting intricate designs using cobalt blue pigment on a white porcelain background. The designs often feature nature-inspired motifs such as flowers, birds, and landscapes, as well as traditional Chinese symbols and patterns.

There was a porcelain ware producing factory at the edge of the city , but it was shut down at the end of the 90’s. Most of the workers just moved on with life and found other ways to make money , but some of them found themselves in situation not being able to do anything else. Those people opened their own studio or even bigger company ( those who had more money to invest of course ).

That has been reflected in one of the family business we are visiting.

While the blue and white porcelain of Yuxi Yunnan has gained recognition and appreciation, it is important to note that the passing down of any artistic tradition or style can face challenges. Factors such as changes in market demand, evolving tastes, and the availability of skilled artisans can impact the continuation of specific ceramic styles like this young potter who is the 5th generation of producing masters. He is mostly enthusiastic about making the cups . Making styles based on various dynasties but also trying some contemporary designs. Our shop is currently overloaded with cups so we passing that one, but his gaiwans are rather interesting.

The special of this wood fired pottery is not only the shapes but also the concept of the clay itself. The walls are very thin and overall weight of the gaiwan feels incredibly light. Also the smaller volumes are available , which is welcomed by us and hard to find in other pottery makers ( like Jianshui or Huaning , where we have to make those on special order each time ) .

We took few pieces on our shop and let’s see how it goes.

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