See all my blog posts about my experience in China, 1955-1961.

I was 18 when I arrived in China to study Ceramics at the Central Institute of Applied Art. After a year of basic Chinese, started curriculum required by the Ceramics Department. My time was filled with drawing classes, learning Chinese art, painting in Chinese style, visiting Chinese Museums, well-known factories and exercising and learning to decorate pottery and porcelain. Everything was new, strange, difficult to understand and learn. I realized my ignorance and the immense amount of knowledge to absorb and understand what was expected of me to know. My professors were kind, understanding my difficulties, helping me with one-on-one teaching to fill the gaps and put me on track for faster learning. My mood was right, wanting to catch up with my Chinese colleagues, learning to express myself in the language of art in addition to speech, which was steadily improving. Not having background knowledge in Chinese history and culture, made me want to learn and understand everything which came in my way, hoping to be later of use.

After two years of learning in China, during the summer, I got from the Romanian Embassy a train ticket to return for vacation in Romania. It took more than ten days of looking through Trans-Siberian train window at Asian, Mongolian, Siberian and Russian landscape to reach Romania. At the Romanian border, listening people speak Romanian, I got emotional with tears, releasing my frustration for being so long away from home.

In Bucharest I went to the Ministry of Light Industry, who sponsored my student program and asked for a recommendation to spend some days of my vacation, visiting our “IRIS” Porcelain Factory in Cluj, get familiar with technological process. The Ministry’s HR department understood my arguments and offered me the recommendation I asked for, train ticket and even a place to stay at the factory. I was happy to add a new page in my understanding of ceramics. The team of young engineers at the factory welcomed my unexpected presence, walked with me, explaining the process, gave me to read the factory’s technology book and answered all my questions. In return, I shared with them, my many Chinese stories.

Back to China, I felt empowered, but not for long, because soon I found that Chinese traditional porcelain technology was totally different from European, what I saw and learned at the factory in Romania. I understood that my field of study was vast and complex, and I needed time and patience to learn and understand its richness. I looked around for books to read and found it to be a challenge. I could not read Chinese books and I did not speak English to rely on English books from school library. Now I understand that even in those beautiful books I admired, I would not find the explanations, I was looking for. In Bucharest I found some books about popular Romanian peasant, folk ceramics, and a few books about industrial ceramics, some in Russian or translated from Russian and just one book written for industry by a Romanian engineer. Relying on incomplete, undocumented scientifically oral teaching, made me frustrated. Being curious and knowing about recent progress made by ceramics science, I wanted to search for answers to my many questions.

Visiting Chinese factories, I did not get full answers to my questions. I thought that Chinese masters kept their knowledge secret. Later, I realized that it was Mother Nature who kept tight its secrets, not letting them to be easily known and understood, even by Chinese Masters. Their extraordinary achievements are explained by their exquisite craftsmanship, longtime experience in observing and controlling masterfully ceramic processes.

The mysteries of ceramics transformations remained secrets until recently, when the progress of chemistry science, demystified the process, and the use of electronic microscope made possible to observe directly, what is happening at the molecular level of matter.

See all my blog posts about my experience in China, 1955-1961.

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