Today we went to visit Dingshan, a smaller village around Yixing. The village is said to be famous for its handmade teapots. Also there is a tourist area, our driver drove us to the main street. The street looked like other local people streets in China. Nothing to feed the eye. Only this garage sale look alike stores, which offer food or services like motorbike repair and in between some who show teapots and ceramics made out of the famous yixing clay. Almost impossible for a foreigner to find out, which shop sell authentic valuable teapots and which not.
First we stepped in a shop with very beautiful nature like teapots. The older man said, these are made by his son and also the certificates proofed he has won one or two of the yearly design and craftsmanship challenges. I liked them, because i could see and feel the spirit of his design ideas, which is to follow nature and also I could see the very skilled craftsmanship needed to do. Of course, no one speaks English. Vincent, my colleague, needed to translate, but I know he don't like, so I somehow only got a summary part of the story spoken. But I was told the precious teapots cost around 5.000 USD.
After that we stepped in a few other shops, which were frustrating. All showing standard same looking pots and ceramics. But tastes are different. So we stepped in a wholesale looking open to the street shop. They had many different teapots, cheaper in price, but still it was a good looking selection. Later we found out, that the 2 owners are older and cannot do the teapot handcrafting themselves anymore. So they collect from other and sell in their own house. This way they can be cheaper, because they don't have to pay rent. We stayed there a long time discussing all about the teapot making. It was clear the 2 really know what they are talking about. We selected some parts and a set after long discussions and negotiations. And finally they asked us, if we want to see the making and the women led us to another store around the corner.
I must say, there were no other customers in that street on this day. So all, including us, had time to talk and meet.
The other store belongs to a famous teapot maker. 2 young women were sitting on the worktable and modelling parts of the teapot. They were learning the task of teapot making. To study these skills you need 2 years learning, while each year you need pay a 20.000 RMB fee plus gifts to your teacher. Only after 2 years you are allowed to make your first complete teapot. The teapots from unknown graduated students are cheaper in price and may lack some advanced techniques of making. Anyway, these pots are already a precious handcrafted valuable teapot. They say, that after 5 years you may become a skilled craftsman, but as usual, not everybody becomes famous. So you can get very good handcrafted teapots at a affordable price and also can get expensive teapots from famous craftsman.
In this shop the lady is the famous craftsman. She is called Gu Meipeng. While we were sitting there and drinking tea, we talked alot and she showed us very precious wonderful teapots she made. Of course she won several championships with her designs. As we had time, I really enjoyed looking closer and finding subtle details, which rise a warm loving feeling in your heart. I must say, that the personality of Gu Meipeng and the teapots crafted by her are of a fine subtle energy. Expressing something like calmness and concentration and diligent care for details, combined with a artists taste for harmonious shapes, spiced with nature elements. In her case bamboo is her image, she brings very well into her crafts. Her crafted teapots cost around 1000-2000 USD and the prized ones are up to 8000 USD. But they are worth each penny!
Unfortunately no one has an internet page, nor an email. So we talked how we can get in contact with them in case some of our friends want to buy and we got some phone and qq numbers, were Vincent or my son (who also speaks Chinese) can get in contact with them. I really can recommend either the cheaper no famous name teapots as well as the valuable teapots made by Gu Meipeng. See the pictures. I especially like the blu teapot. No need to say, that exactly this is the more expensive one, because blue clay is rare.
Finally I will encourage everyone to view the images and let us know if you want us to organize one or more teapots or cups etc. for you. It is not our main business, so we do this with little charges to cover our expenses, because we like foster the creativity, which is the general aim of Vital-Office. (see my book "The Vital-Office concept" about this.)