Some more on Yixing clay

The other day I wrote that I’d post some more pictures of the unprocessed clay in the yard of Hēnglì táocí chǎng as well as their processing equipment, so here we go.

This is what (part of) their yard looks like.

This raw clay material gets fed from above into those 2 machines which will grind it into the desired grain-size.

The resulting grain-size is controlled by a sieve which determines what is being let out of the machine and what still has to stay in until it’s small enough. Those sieves are changeable and have different mesh sizes. Here is what one of them looks like up close:

When the clay comes out it is a powder looking like this:

some mixing and mainly adding of water:

and then is being pressed into sell-able bars whilst some water is being added still:

Most of the machinery in those pictures wasn’t used that particular day (or even week, guessing based on the dust layer) the last machine which presses out the ready pieces was being operated whilst we where there and we had a chance to get all the information above from the workers on site.

So here is what the clay that came out fresh that day looked like:

That was it so far about how Yixing zisha clays are being produced mainly these days, if it is done by one of the bigger official suppliers that is, but if you remember the pictures of Huanglongshan I posted a while back, I showed freshly dug holes where people have been sourcing clay… well, that’s gotta go somewhere too, right? So next time I might give you some impressions and maybe some insights how it’s done the less official way.

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Yixing contemporary artist verification

the website I link to on the right hand side information menu for the Yixing artist verification database changes its link once in a while. I updated the link now and it should work again.

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Stone Mill Tribute pot

Yesterday I wrote about stone mills for clay and I just thought of a picture I took a while back in the little teapot museum inside Zisha Factory No.1

Item name: ShiMoHu / 石磨壶
Artist: WangYuMei / 王玉美

tribute to stone mills

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A while back on a bicycle tour around the Dingshan area whilst [re]searching zisha clay and clay related items near here
Yixing ceramics city signwe came across a lot of “old stuff” as some might call it. I call it Zeitzeugen.

mill stoneNot many of those old mill stones are still in operation these days as heavier machinery took over, so most of them seem to have found their way here somehow. Not all of the stones in the pictures below would have been used to crush clay rocks but some where also popular for food and all other kinds of things that could be crushed with some benefit.

For the occasional private moonlight clay sourcing on HuangLongShan some seem to occupy themselves with mill stones like above might still be used today. Privately. Like on Facebook

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handmade clay tea table

I’m sure this handmade Yixing zisha clay tea table with the beautiful dragon will turn out very nice once finished and fired.

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2011 Yixing HongCha – homemade

For all of you who ever wanted to know how to make some homemade HongCha I’ll share today how it’s done. Well, in principle at least, improvements pending. 😉
What you need first is to find some tea-plants at the right time of year where you can pick without getting into trouble. Either be it your own plants, wild ones or an abandoned tea field like this one:

and you start picking

and some more

take some water and a big hat, as it can get hot and if you convince your pregnant wife and mom and grandma to pick too

you’ll end up with an respectable amount in no time

Although for simple HongCha less equipment is needed than for various green tea varieties, still a lot of manual work is to be done (if you don’t have any machines or want it handmade anyways).

After you placed the tea you just picked in the sun for a while to soften the leaves, otherwise they’ll break in the next step, you start massaging them gently.

The softer the leaves get, the harder you can squeeze them

and still some more, as grandma said if the back of your hand doesn’t get wet, it’s not enough.

Please mind this way your hands are likely to get very stained and you’ll have to live with brownish-yellow hands for a while. I didn’t mind, but be warned!

When you’re done, it all goes in an airtight vessel and is being left alone in a warm place until the tea itself starts to produce some fermentation heat. You’ll feel the bowl getting warmer to roughly know when its ready.

You can of course vary the time you massage the leaves and the time you ferment them according to your taste and desired outcome. If you like your tea stronger, massage more. If you like it to produce more infusions, massage a bit less. Just experiment a bit to find out what you like.

The batch in the next picture is a bit on the oolong side and produces a lot of infusions.
Out it comes, to dry in the sun

until it looks like this

and then you store it in a fancy jar if you have oneor in a plastic bag in the fridge or wherever you usually like your tea stored. Like on Facebook

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chance find

This afternoon we went to visit grandma and buy some fruit in the market and since an acquaintance asked me to see if I could get him a gaiwan I also had a look around the pottery shops nearby. Because they do mostly sell Yixing clay products I had no luck today finding any jindezhen I was looking for, but i saw some beautiful things.

little yixing pots

little yixing potsI placed them on a 10元 note just for size comparison, they are of course not available anywhere near that range. Despite their dirty appearance and imperfections they where locked away in a cabinet and I could not have them on my available fruit budget… or on an impulse buy budget at all for that matter.

In a shop next door I found some pots made more recently:

little yixing pots, new little yixing pots, new little yixing pots, new

unsurprisingly, also over my fruit budget. Like on Facebook

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