I am ages late in posting this! But thankfully I’ve been keeping track of what’s happening so this blog post won’t be missing out on any details.
This is Rachel from the bamboo theme, and I’m posting this after our second trip to Baizhang. But this is going to be about week 6, it covers our preparation for our Baizhang trip and our first 3 days of our time there!
We had one lesson before we took off for our trip. There was a quick talk by one of our TAs about her design philosophy and some of her previous works. Most of her designs focus on social issues: designing products with social problems in mind. After the talk 光明老师 invited her to take us through a tea brewing session. We were told to take whiffs of the tea before drinking it to fully enjoy the taste and experience. We were also introduced to various types of tea, and tried some of the tea leaves that she made herself. Made me curious about what it’s like to make your own tea leaves.
Fun thing we got was a go-pro as well! Our professor got it specially for our Baizhang trip so there will probably be a lot of videos in our behind the scenes segments.
We headed to Baizhang on Friday.
The village itself is a small rundown thing, only about an hour out from our hostel. At first glance, everything seemed abandoned, the houses along the street empty. But guess what we found in abundance instead: dogs!
We made friends with so many of the dogs there, they’d bark to announce our arrival anywhere. I kids, most of them were terrified of us and the entire neighborhood would know whenever we walked by.
Apart from the dogs, we were also shown around a workshop which had plenty of pretty neat bamboo products. The 师傅 there explained to us that when he designs bamboo products, he is a big advocate of using the natural shape and properties of the material to make these items. Things like compressed bamboo planks, he was not a fan of. Then, he showed us how to make the basic structure behind all bamboo weaving: the six-sided star.
After a long afternoon of experimenting with the pattern and coming up with some of our own, we headed to our hotel for the night for dinner.
Baizhang is a mountain-filled area, with most of the roads heading up-slope to higher grounds. There are rivers of rushing water, and just tons of gorgeous scenery all around. Despite the workshop being far from where we were staying, the walk felt like no hardship at all, given the amazing view we were treated to as we climbed.
The dinner was also great, and we were treated to a lot of local dishes. (The fried eggplants were especially good.) Everyone there was so warm and welcoming, likely because they’ve never met people outside of China before, but we enjoyed their hospitality and the conversations around the dinner table.
There was also a beautiful sunset that we got to appreciate from one of the peaks.
The next day we went to another 师傅’s house. He is a master bamboo weaver, and he was going to teach us about bamboo weaving patterns, from balls to baskets. Mel’s post on week 7 covers most of the basket weaving, so I won’t repeat that in this post.
Instead, I’ll talk a little more about one of the more exciting experiences we had on our trip to Baizhang: cutting down bamboo.
As the 师傅 took us through a route to a nearby bamboo forest, he explained that most bamboo die after 10 years. This is what makes bamboo such an eco-friendly material, and is also why they only chop down bamboo that is more than 6-years-old. They can tell its age by shaking the stems and testing their strength and flexibility.
After that, we took our bamboo pieces back to process so that we could turn them into strips that we could use for our basket and balls and other weaving items. Here is a picture of Mel doing her thing.
The next day, the 师傅 brought us to a mountain after a day of staying in to weave. There was a rock that we climbed to the top of, which gave us a pretty great view. Then we got back down to climb up to a stream. Finally found where 农夫Spring Water comes from.
The water was clear, the weather was good and we all had a really great time.
On the third day, we spent all day weaving the basket. And the rest of our trip can be seen in week 7!
That’s all for this post, sorry it’s late but thanks for reading if you did!