I meant to post about this a while ago, thought I had, and then couldn't find it on the blog. So this happened last semester:
Jason Maddock, a colleague of ours here at the Shanghai American School, organized an amazing two day professional opportunity for us in Jingdezhen, the ceramics capitol of the world. You'd be forgiven for not having heard of this small city before (small, I say, by China standards, it has a population of over a million people), but here you'd find the birthplace of porcelain, and the location from which most of the worlds' porcelain comes. This is the city, that draws the connection between 'China' the country with 'China', your grandmother's fine dinner plates.
Over the course of two days, we learned about the process of slip casting, using decals on ceramics, and most interestingly, painting with blue cobalt on white porcelain. These were the ancient techniques that create the very familiar white and blue pottery that China is famous for. In addition, we had the opportunity to visit, and even enter a 'dragon kiln' a hugemongus beast of a kiln that stretched way up the side of a small mountain, is only fired once or twice a year and can fire thousands of pieces of pottery at once.
Jason's video of our trip can be seen here, and here's the Flickr set of our trip:
I'm not much of a ceramicist myself, but being in Jingdezhen sure made me want to study.