Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Artisans of China

There are many differences between China and the US.  One is that if you go to China as a part of a tour group you will be REQUIRED to visit several factories as part of your tour.  They are not factories in our sense of the word however; I don't think many Westerners get to see those.   Usually it was just a large room with a demonstration by the artisans and then a showroom where they wanted you to spend LOTS of money! Oh and I can't forget the "special dining room" just for the tourists on the upper floor of each.  I do have to admit that they were actually quite interesting and I had wished that I had more money to spend - especially at the rug factory.
So here are some of the "factories" we toured...

The Pearl Factory

An open oyster showing how the pearls are "seeded" inside each shell

This is a screen made out of pearls - Beautiful!!

 It was fun to see the demonstration on pearl seeding and
how to determine genuine pearls from fakes.

The Jade Museum

A history of Jade in China

A sculpture carved out of Jade - Did you know Jade consisted of so many different colors?

Carving the Jade by hand.  Very few people still know how to do this.

The Phoenix


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 Making Cloisonn√© is a painstaking, time consuming process.
First they start with a copper vase.  One person draws the pattern onto the vase. 
Another then attaches thin copper strips following the pattern drawn on the piece. 
Enamel is then put into each space.  This is done by several different artists.
The enamel is then fired.  And another person polishes the piece and
it is finished by gilding.  One piece can take weeks to years to complete
depending on the size and intricacy of the pattern.
Finished Pieces

On the left you can see the artists working at their stations -
each one adding a different step to the process

The Rug Factory


Some of the rugs were made with wool and some with silk.  The one on the left was the silk rug I wanted.
But considering it cost almost as much as our house did - it stayed in China.  But it was SO soft and pretty!!

The Wool display

The Silk Factory

Making silk thread.  Eight cocoons are unraveled and wound
together to make a single silk thread

The cocoons are soaked in water to soften before being unwound

The cocoons

To make silk batting double cocoons are used.  (Double cocoons contain two butterflies.  The caterpillars spin their silk intertwining the threads to make One cocoon.)  They are soaked, opened and then stretched over the form.  Many are stretched over the form and then removed to dry.  The dried batting (in the man's hands in the back) is then stretched into the desired shape.

The pupa are removed from each cocoon and will be fried and eaten.
No - I didn't try any.

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