About Yixing clay and the current situation


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About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby ChinesePottery » Feb 27th, '11, 23:42

some people might be interested to get some impressions about Yixing clay so I
thought I start this thread and share some pictures in this and the next few posts.

I'll start with Huanglongshan, which is probably the most famous and well known clay
mining area for Yixing clay. I took a few pictures the other day when i was hunting for
dragon kilns.

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The day we went there I've seen heavy machinery at work and it already fooled me for a second into the belief there might be some mining going on again. That's not the case, they where just building some pathway or entrance for pedestrian access.

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Looking a bit closer at the surface one can tell that there is of course some clay to be found still.

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Most of it is long gone though. The backside of Huanglongshan where the mining went the deepest is a little pond now. Access there is apparently somewhat restricted or at least discouraged as most people are non-swimmers.

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In another former mine (not for clay) just 1km away is a quite popular spot for swimming
which I often frequent myself in summer, but there too it is not officially allowed to swim
despite a local swimming club having a building and annual swimming competitions are
being held there.

Anyways, I got sidetracked a bit, back to Huanglongshan. Just because official mining has stopped there, at least for now, doesn't mean no clay from there is available anymore. Quite a bit has been stored already long ago and in one of the next posts I'll show yard pictures of one of the official local clay suppliers as well as some processing equipment. But even now, illegal mining on Huanglongshan takes place almost every night. And not only there.
You can see on the following pictures freshly dug holes on Huanglongshan where people
scraped out what they deemed to be useful.

Image
Image

more about Yixing clay next time.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby tingjunkie » Feb 28th, '11, 10:16

Thanks for the photos and info CP! That's very cool to see up to date pictures of Huanglongshan. I know there are other clay mountains (Benshan, etc.) but it always amazed me that the geology of China dictates that there are only a handful of spots where Yixing clay could be found. Do you know if other areas outside of Yixing been tested to see if their clays might be identical (or close enough)?
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby MarshalN » Feb 28th, '11, 14:17

Nice, keep it coming!
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby ycleong » Feb 28th, '11, 23:38

Thanks for enlightening us, chinesep! Really appreciate your effort. Look forward to your next posting.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby the nub » Mar 1st, '11, 00:04

thank you for the photos. I was told that Yixing clay was a diminishing resource but had no idea how dire the situation was.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby edkrueger » Mar 1st, '11, 00:51

A giant hill is dire indeed.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby chrl42 » Mar 2nd, '11, 09:42

ChinesePottery wrote:official local clay suppliers


Huang Long Yuan? :) (discard me if not)
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby bagua7 » Mar 3rd, '11, 06:33

Question to ChinesePottery and chrl42, as you are both located in China and seem quite knowledgeable about Yixing clay. Here's my question:

1. Are the mainland Chinese kilns tested for contaminants and chemical pollutants?

2. How to detect the presence of dyes and oils when purchasing a pot.

I don't trust the modern Chinese especially the generations that followed the infamous "Cultural Revolution." Now it's all about $$$$$ and more $$$$$. Therefore extra care must be taken when purchasing Yixing pottery **especially online.**

I am super picky and extremely cautious when it comes to Yixing.

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by bagua7 on Jan 20th, '13, 21:03, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby ChinesePottery » Mar 3rd, '11, 08:03

Hi bagua7,

bagua7 wrote:Question to ChinesePottery and chrl42, as you are both located in China and seem quite knwoledgeable about Yixing clay. Here's my question:

1. Are the mainland Chinese kilns tested for contaminants and chemical pollutants?

2. How to detect the presence of dyes and oils when purchasing a pot.

I don't trust the modern Chinese especially the generations that followed the infamous "Cultural Revolution." Now it's all about $$$$$ and more $$$$$. Therefore extra care must be taken when purchasing Yixing pottery **especially online.**

I am super picky and extremely cautious when it comes to Yixing.

Thanks in advance.


Excellent question, thanks for asking.
The good news is, not all modern Chinese are bad and sometimes even the government makes wise decisions. ;)
If one has a physical shop, at least if it is in the official "Ceramics City" where tourists are guided to with roadsigns and so forth local authorities are trying their best to boost buyers confidence in their famous local products, heritage and artisans.
Now here is what they do, there are unannounced visits. Some officials just pop in and randomly select 6 samples which they take away and test. Most of which is being returned later. In exchange for the hassle, and to cope with eventual breakage and lost items once in a while, one gets an official certificate with test results like these:

Image
higher resolution here:http://teaandpottery.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/test2009.jpgsorry for the bad picture, was a quick snapshot

Image
higher resolution here:http://teaandpottery.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/test2010.jpg

So if one is shopping locally in the designated area one is mostly on the safe side. People who have their showrooms/shops and studios there usually understand the importance of these kind of unannounced visits and mostly even appreciate them. In the end its keeping up their own reputation as well as that of their direct neighborhood.

I see though this answer is not helping you much when buying online.
Not much hints I can give to you there I'm afraid, other than
- finding a reliable person/source you can trust.
- start slow,
- don't go crazy on first time orders if you are unsure and so forth
the usual.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby tortoise » Mar 3rd, '11, 13:30

thanks for posting the pictures and offering information.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby bagua7 » Mar 3rd, '11, 19:27

ChinesePottery wrote:The good news is, not all modern Chinese are bad and sometimes even the government makes wise decisions. ;)
If one has a physical shop, at least if it is in the official "Ceramics City" where tourists are guided to with roadsigns and so forth local authorities are trying their best to boost buyers confidence in their famous local products, heritage and artisans....


Thanks for taking your time to upload all that info; unfortunately, I can't read Chinese. What do all those numbers indicate?

Regards.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby ChinesePottery » Mar 3rd, '11, 23:12

bagua7 wrote:Thanks for taking your time to upload all that info; unfortunately, I can't read Chinese. What do all those numbers indicate?
Regards.


The second picture I uploaded is actually bilingual, well mostly at least.
What was being tested there is Pb(lead) and Cd(cadmium) which are the usual (and harmful) suspects one would be likely to find in fake clays as well as water suction/retention of the pot and temperature/vibration resistance. All indicators for the type of clay used, firing temperatures and craftsmen skills.

Sometimes (sorry, too lazy to produce a picture for that now) if a reseller orders or plans to buy a bigger amount of pots they do occasionally carry out their own lab-tests and usually provide a copy to the artisan.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby bagua7 » Mar 4th, '11, 06:22

I forgot to mention that my knowledge of Chemistry is... :oops:

:lol:

Thanks for the tip. Is that report related to one particular vendor? I mean is Jiangsu ceramics a factory that supplies raw clay to a large number of potteries?

Cheers.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby ChinesePottery » Mar 4th, '11, 06:46

bagua7 wrote:I forgot to mention that my knowledge of Chemistry is... :oops:

:lol:

Thanks for the tip. Is that report related to one particular vendor? I mean is Jiangsu ceramics a factory that supplies raw clay to a large number of potteries?

Cheers.


The "Jiangsu Ceramics & Refractory Products Quality Supervision Inspection Center" is who carried out the tests, not who has been tested. The report is for products from 徐建青 (XuJianQing), my wife's uncle. There is a matching thread over in TeawareArtisans but i didn't put many product pictures in there yet(sorry). If you want to know more about XuJianQing's work feel free to send me a PM or follow the link in TA.
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Re: About Yixing clay and the current situation

Postby chrl42 » Mar 4th, '11, 08:29

bagua7 wrote:Question to ChinesePottery and chrl42, as you are both located in China and seem quite knowledgeable about Yixing clay. Here's my question:

1. Are the mainland Chinese kilns tested for contaminants and chemical pollutants?

2. How to detect the presence of dyes and oils when purchasing a pot.

I don't trust the modern Chinese especially the generations that followed the infamous "Cultural Revolution." Now it's all about $$$$$ and more $$$$$. Therefore extra care must be taken when purchasing Yixing pottery **especially online.**

I am super picky and extremely cautious when it comes to Yixing.

Thanks in advance.


Actually, it was the Taiwanese who made Yixing teapot full of SSSS, makers were the Chinese but consumers weren't. The market keeps going because there exist followers.

During CR, no Yixing cost over 100usd, then 7~80. Market for Hong Kong and Taiwan opened. Price craze started since then. 90's Yixing market collapsed, because of imitations and lack knowledge. As internet grew and the mainlanders started to get in Yixings, another boom is just about to start ($$$$$$)
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