Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Philippines, Vicki visits places outside ceramic studios

Truly breathtaking and magical vistas enfold before my eyes in Northern Philippines.

Undulating rice terraces have been cultivated for centuries, captivating lucky viewers. 

Around any bend may bring a surprise appearance. 

I never tire of rice blowing in the wind against a blue sky.

Gathered rice bundles are works of artistic beauty.

Even in the rainy season, blue skies appear.

The hanging coffins near Sagada town are enthralling. 

In Kalinga province, early morning fog enshrouds the distant mountains.

A calm besets isolated villages in Kalinga Province. 

A six-hour boat ride brings one to the remote and untouristed island of Calayan, 
where electric power functions only half the day.

Catamaran boats make the journey to the mainland and back.

They set off at daybreak, barring any typhoon conditions. 

Vigan, is an old Spanish colonial town, with empanadas a mainstay.

And the cobblestone streets a charming setting for a pre-wedding stroll. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Phillipines, Wonderful and wondrous people and faces Vicki encountered

Beautiful and engaging faces welcomed me, and matched the gorgeous, 
colorful, Philippine landscapes that greeted me daily. 

This barefoot farmer walks along his terraced rice fields, in Malicong.

Harvesting rice is an arduous job.

The work is done by hand in many villages, with rice the staple of the Philippine diet. 

Ninety year-old Theresa, my bus companion, to Kabayan,

became my friend;  her smile is contagious.

Her 80 year-old friend, Luisa,  struggles to keep apace, while a steady grin belies her hefty load. 

Heavy load?  No problem for these determined bottle recyclers. 

Good friends may come in all shapes and sizes.

Invariably, the omnipresent personal device is a close friend.

I was fortunate to get a lengthy lift with the friendliest Flip-Flop roving sales couple.

Rex is determined to make a sale,

jumping out of his truck into the brutal heat to ply his wares.

Perfect fit!  Its a sale!

Up, up, up the mountain goes the pig, off to slaughter and celebrate at a birthday bash.

A traditionally tattooed woman in Tulgao muses on the day, 
perhaps in need of the flip-flop vendors.

A few villages away, 100 year-old Maria Fang-Od, takes time out from
her busy schedule to welcome me.

Then it is back to work for Fang-Od, as the revered elder traditional tattoo artist in the area. 

People from all over the country, and the world, walk to her village in Kalinga, 
to have her signature tattoo. Yes, it hurts!

With pine soot and thorns she taps in her traditional artistry. 

In the enervating tropical heat, a card game can be a great diversion. 

As can a friendly walk by the sea. 

Or a dressed up pre-nuptial promenade.

Despite the brutal heat, this street vendor remains upbeat.

And this balloon peddler is in over his head with his lot!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Philippines, Vicki with local Ceramic Artists and Potters

I was privileged to work and learn from local potters and 
ceramic artists who share my passion for creating from clay. 

In the town of Vigan, I worked on the largest potter's wheel I've ever seen.

The wheel gives new meaning to "kick-starting."

With a sufficient kick, the wheel can tuns for several minutes.  Before the arrival of the 
Spanish in the Philippines, Chinese settlers started a still-active pottery industry here. 

The resident caribou is often called upon to prepare or wedge the clay!

Accompanying the largest wheel I have ever seen, the RG Jar studio boasts the longest
 kiln I have ever set my eyes on. At 50 meters, it can hold about 1000 large jars. 
Dating from 1823, it is truly a fantasitc sight. 

"Burnay" earthenware jars produced here, were originally used as vessels for 
the fermentation of sugar cane wine, and fish paste.  Today, they are generally 
sold as decorative ceramic pots to adorn homes and gardens.  

As in many areas of the world, residents of the village of Dalupa, in Kalinga Province, 
carry on a pottery tradition that spans centuries. 

I shared precious time in Dalupa, where potters were eager to show me their local techniques.

They skillfully form clay vessels by hand.

Using clay found right near their mountain homes. 

The clay is molded methodically, while turning a stand by hand. 

A smooth stone is used to burnish the unfired clay vessels, and the metal ring of a flashlight serves  to shape the clay. 

After firing the clay, while it is still hot, a stick with resin from a local pine tree 
is passed around the vessel, sealing onto the pottery, a local glazing technique.  

These finished vessels are then ready to use on a fire for cooking. 

Local Dalupa potters had fun watching my demonstrations. 

I was honored to share my own work with them. 

Of course at home I do not work outside on the ground in the enervating tropical heat, 
but inside a studio on an electric wheel. 

These potters took time out from busy schedules working in their
 rice fields to attend my clay workshop. 

I enjoy adapting my skills to the local environment, always a good challenge. 

In Sagada, a town in the Philippine Mountain Province, 
exceptional pottery is produced using local clay. 

The Sagada Pottery studio is nestled in the trees. With weather so damp, 
pots must be dried for at least a month before a first firing in the kiln. 

Local potters, Siegrid Bangyay, and Tessie Baldo, run the studio, 
and produce unique and fabulous work. 

They were incredibly welcoming, allowing me to share my favorite 
forms and techniques at their studio. 

Ceramic Artist,  Hadrian Mendoza, graciously invited 
me to the opening of his show in Baguio.

His mesmerizing work often defies gravity, quite a feat to produce. 

Spectacular pieces dazzle the eyes, and leave one wanting to learn and see more.