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July 8:
Fujhou,China

Suddenly massive apartment complexes towering in brown to the sky changed into.the old traditional streets There are mountains here but they are diminutive compared to the apartments.

This morning stepped out of my lodging to a lively market. This exhibit is really grand occupying a maze of traditional Ming dynasty buildings and gardens, illustrating 4 kinds of approaches to lacquer work, including sculpture, massive urushi paintings, and contemporary approaches with video. Nagatoshi Onishi whose work is below helped enable me to go.







I tried to see String lacquer in Fuzhou














which is a mix of baked roof tile, bronze oil roiled extremely finely rolled into dragons or a gaudy hue. Looks like fine spaghetti but still a cool effect.

Took a plane to Nanking and a bus to Yangzhou and my hotel was right a long the riverbank. Went out for a walk, cool after the rain. Little shops sold Chinese paper and brushes and a man began to talk to me patiently and I explained I wanted to see lacquer so he took note of my contact. And I was all excited that I might meet someone connected with what I had come her for.











Kittens along the riverbank sitting outside of a pet store, I walk with the wail of the crickets, people doing tai chi and dancing, everywhere people reach out to help me, such heat here, as I climb up a hill trying to find a temple.

Went to a lacquer factory,the Yangzhou Classics Lacquerware company (www.yz7q.com).It is amazing how they paint on 300 layers of lacquer and then carve like frozen butter the thin layers with tiny flat tools. Another fellow was carving cow bone into flowery shapes and glued on.
Tiny pieces of mother of pearl shells they cut and pick up with the point of a needle.











Later went to a park, which so dramatic with space music and dramatic lighting effects. Huge urn of smoke and incense for which I laid some sticks for my family. The old temple structures reminded me of Nara in Japan. A massive shrouded angel in the back of the temple oversaw the little tan leather pillows to bow down onto. My fatigue made me happy to bow in deep exhaustion.

And early morning along the riverbank damp and humid everywhere, I was the first to arrive at the Yangzhou Craft Museum, filled with loftily crafted items in Chinese splendor. I had only reached the store and just asked by typing into my translator if there was anything more to see. One cannot give up too easily, I found an escalator in the back corner filled with all the finest of the paper arts, lacquer work, jade carving, hair like embroidery on transparent silk. Amazing craftsmanship. There were shops and shops of lacquer though they include the plastic copies at half the price. No tourists were here at all. There was a good educational section as well. The lady gave me a little red carved ring.

The garden is quiet with a surge of cicada, l wooden narrow carvings, very delicate. Eating frozen coconut milk bars as I walk along the backsides of peoples homes along the river. Little old lady on a blinking rickshaw slides past me.











Eat string dragon tofu in the restaurant I frequented a few times for their rice dumplings on an elegantly woven steam basket. Early for me go all around to more old merchant homes, going up small block stairways imaging such a cultured life for the educated and wealthy a hundred years ago. Now it seems like an amusement park for the children bratty boy climbing through all the maze of rocks. Walk to all of points in town and now few people are around taking pictures of themselves in serene environments.




























But whilest inside a cool teahouse under a waterfall hanging lanterns, I would like to have to transform myself into that era.

Found a lady taxi driver and she took me to the bus station way out of town. Some cities have 4 or 5 intercity bus and train stations. I went to the wrong one only once and people helped me arrived late in the evening walking around the town so wet and hot to collapse on the floor. But must push on, the temple had huge Taoist figures but there is no one in there to pray. The figures were being repaired using giant vats of lacquer, I could smell it.

I walk along the little riverside causeways of Xingzi, people playing cards I the afternoon, singing opera songs in the café. The people smiled at me through the window to come in.They were practicing opera on a Sunday afternoon. The women gather to play something with huge stacks of colored blue and green dice. We take our whole lives to gather experiences only to have it all dissolve. We are our memories.

I fly along on this train that I boarded onto on a massive modern concrete marble train station. The train flies through giant concrete buildings, my eye catches some small and intimate old buildings.buckling under time.
Al the passengers around me, have soft round edges, it is the language, or the heat, or the pork gyozas, kind of like a butter that turns in on itself.People are very kind. The train buzzes through rainstorms and beautiful countryside but I am so exhausted from yesterday taking 3 buses on time, 2 trains, and one subway, one taxi. Maybe I should have stayed in that village for a few days just to become part of it. I remember the little bean ice cream with the swirls of marbled chocolate in patterns outside the bar, and walking along canal streets in Suzhou at night lit up moving through the crowds

One side of the river were shops and the other were restaurants. I could not figure out why I could not find anything to eat. I stopped for some fried tofu soft insides very pungent smell. Perhaps that was the stinky tofu. And the later ate a red bean frozen yogurt, and the little cat in that I played with in the cage under all the business above.

Because the subways closed at 11 pm I took a taxi ride home with a very kind taxi driver who wanted to know more about me,
I felt master of my world; I could go anywhere because I was alive. This world was my own. Then arriving in Fuzhou, I missed my greeting party. Maybe I had become invisible. I very rarely saw a foreigner anywhere. I had flown in during the typhoon like a ghost, I proceeded to the bus and got onto it,and no one seemed to know I was there.









Over the final dinner at the conference we chat about lacquer, To attach shell, mix cleaner lacquer with black and paint around edges of the shell until it builds up. To make a good lacquer color old lacquer is the best lacquer, and some people try to make new lacquer old especially for repairing old pieces, by cooking a bit in a jar with boiling water pan. If the artificially aged lacquer does not dry take a touch of new lacquer to match to the drying point you want. Supposedly you cannot repair an old thing and add new lacquer to it. The young lacquer is aggressive to the old one.
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copyright 2017 Sha Sha Higby

Another person says you have to grind color for a long time maybe 30 minutes with a wooden grinder on glass. Another told me to mix the color, get it out of the tube especially benigara, mix the pigment in and then set aside for a long time until you are ready to use and and then add a touch of fresh lacquer to get the drying process to happen. I also discussed with folks how they would make stringy lacquer for string lacquerand most of the experts said you would put lots of pigment into it, but chances it would dry in a cooler environment except in Vietnam or Myanmar. Yesterday we saw huge lacquer vessels larger than a human being painted with 2 thick layers of thick hemp,and grainy stone grit mixed with lacquer paint. Repeated for Two layers over plaster form. Since the plaster was a hollow core they had made in a mold, they could send a stick into the plaster core and shatter the plaster out of it,left with a pure dry lacquer form
Our last meal was on a wonderful huge round table of green grass that we spun around. We had great conversations, and shop talk on lacquer and our lives, and surviving as an artist and a person. I wanted to cherish this moment
Recent Lacquer Visit to Bagan,Myanmar
Recent Lacquer Visit to Shan
Recent lacquer Visit to Yangon