Bog Turtle

Endangered Species Projects

East Meets West

In 2019, I was a working at the pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China. I took some lessons with Master Porcelain carver Chen Ming. Despite a language barrier, she taught me how to carve, using facial gestures, sounds, and by moving my hands to the proper positions. She brought her carving tools, they were bicycle spokes hammered into different shapes at each end, with handles wrapped with tape for comfort. We carved the clay bone dry, unforgiving and dusty. It was a challenge.

What is the difference between endangered species in the United States and in China? Do we have common species? Research for this was a little tricky as information in China is different than in the US. I made 44 tiles, carving each endangered species that the United States and China have in common. I finished them in the classic Chinese Celadon Glaze and had a small show at the pottery workshop. Chen Ming and her daughter came to the opening. They took time looking at each one. I was nervous in front of my teacher, a master carver. Chen Ming said, “I am a much better carver than you, however, your ideas may be a bit better”. How right she was! These attempts at carving are blunt and heavy handed, next to her graceful waves of water and layering of traditional Chinese flora and fauna. I was truly inspired by her tremendous skills and patient teaching.