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Amazing Black Sand Clay /handmade/zen style

I love to introduce Ya Shao Black Sand Tea Ware. I want to share with the world that porcelain, Yixin clay, or Jianzhan are not the only teaware from China. We also have Black Sand Clay

Yingjing is located in southwestern China in the Sichuan province. It is a small town next to Yaan city. Yingjing has also been an important station on the South Silk Road and the Tea-Horse Road for the past 2300 years.

Yingjing sand clay art has a long history. Villagers had crafted themselves practical and simple essential cooking supplies, kitchenware, and utensils with black sand clay. The fires in the kilns never stop in this town. The crafting techniques have inherited from generation to generation. The procedure of making black sand clay is delicate and complicated.

There are 7 main steps.

1. Processing the Clay Material

Formulating the clay (Baishan soil and Yingjing coal)

The artist mixes soil and coal with water at certain proportions. Then, wedges the clay in a pug mill to remove all air bubbles. The mixture is processed through the pug mill multiple times to ensure the texture is not too dry or too moist; until the mixture becomes cohesive and malleable.

2. Forming the Clay Mixture

The artist centers the clay on the wheel and compresses the clay to form the foundation. The artist allows the clay foundation to begin to dry before adding an additional clay layer to create the body. Then, the body is formed around the foundation by hand. The body and foundation are pressed together to close all gaps. The body is then shaped into a final form by thinning the walls by hand. We call this greenware.

3. Trimming, Sanding, and Polishing

Mastering this technique requires delicacy, precision, patience, and harmony. Artists design collections that represent the aesthetic values of each era.

4. Bone Dry

This process takes 1-2 days. The clay will become evenly dry and stable. A ceremony of prayer is conducted prior to opening the kiln. The artists pray for the sky and the planet. They share one cup of Ya Shao Wine with the planet. All raw materials and elements are gifted by mother nature. The artists ask for their artworks to come out of the kiln flawlessly.

5. Bisque Firing

Artists light up coals with straw. Then flip the coals to regulate the temperature. When the flames get tall, they spread one layer of coal evenly on top. The greenware is then placed in separate containers that resemble “miniature ovens” that protect and heat the ware evenly. When the coals are on fire, the kiln cover is then closed. An artist uses a bellow to add airflow into the coals. Depending on the timing and color of the flames, the artist can identify the proper temperature. Flames stretch and dance around the kiln. Flame colors turn dark, change, and jump like a lady’s beautiful flowy dress. The greenware is bisque fired in one night.

6. Glazing

The artists lift up the kiln cover slowly to make ensure the temperature does not change too quickly. The “miniature ovens” are moved from the coals to the glaze fire. Cedar tree leaves and branches are added into the glazing kiln. The oil from the burning plants generate smoke that creates a silver glaze finish on the teaware.

7. Annealing

Over a 2 hour duration, the temperature cools down to between 100 C and 200 C inside the glazing kiln. The “miniature ovens” are then removed and set aside to cool down to between 40 C and 50 C. The artist breaks the caps of the “miniature ovens” and inspects the teaware for cracks or imperfections.

Yingjing Black Sand Clay Art is an Intangible Cultural Heritage in China.

Ms. Lin Ping leads groups of artists who are passionate about authentic Black Sand Clay Art. Their design and skills bring a new life to Yingjing black sand clay. The clay becomes a storyteller of history. They love sharing this unique teaware to the world. Porcelain, Yixin clay, or Jianzhan are not the only teaware. We have Black Sand Clay and we are proud of it.

What is crafting to them? To live, to have joy, and to love.

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