Dongdong describes himself as a craftsman, believing that ceramics, like other artisanal work, require dedication and heart for a rewarding outcome.
While some find wood firing mysterious, he sees it as a meticulous and labor-intensive craft. His routine involves accumulating pieces for the kiln, then loading and firing it. The process may sound simple, but the reality is quite different. Everyone is transformed in the process, and the work becomes more demanding. I've known Dongdong and his wife, Xiaochen, for just three years, right before he established his studio. Although we interacted frequently during this time, it was only when I helped with some nail work and observed the kiln loading that I truly appreciated its challenges. Then comes the firing. People must stay by the kiln for two or three days, and this process has its own set of intricacies. The most delightful moment is unloading the kiln, where surprises and disappointments mingle. Most friends and clients visit at this time, not only to select wares but also to experience the excitement and joy of the kiln opening. When customers choose pieces to take home, Dongdong and Xiaochen are torn between reluctance and hope that each new owner will cherish these ceramics as they do.
Dongdong creates tea wares that complement and rely on the essence of tea, reflecting his deep understanding of tea and ceramics. In his small studio, splitting wood, making a fire, and brewing tea serve as activities to soothe the soul. Over these three years, my understanding of wood firing has grown in tandem with Dongdong's continuous learning and improvement. His passion for wood firing isn't superficial; it's as he says, everything unfolds in simplicity.
Every day's repetition is a daily prerequisite. In their mountainside studio, a low door in an unpretentious room, the sound of the potter's wheel seems right at home, harmonizing with everything. So, the days pass, seemingly unaltered, but in truth, they evolve. Each person travels farther down their unique path.
Dongdong's expectations for himself are refreshingly realistic. He simply aims to be a bit less foolish.
Dongdong may not be brilliant, but his wood-fired creations reveal his inherent simplicity.