Monday, May 6, 2013

The Pottery Jungle

 Up on the northeast part of the island is a wonderful treasure called The Pottery Jungle.  I remembered it from out earlier time here and hoped it would still be the same - an old kiln area with lots of local and imported ceramics.  Thank goodness the rumors of it closing down have not come true yet!

The real name for the spot is Thow Kwang Industry but everyone knows it by its nickname.  Lots of pottery and lots of jungle - don't forget your mosquito repellant when you visit... Google maps did a great job of getting us there and here is what we (Bronia, Betsy and I) found:

The "Showroom" is packed with amazing decorating items, including new and old wood furniture pieces and collectors' items that Christie's Auctions would die for.  You roam around and find shelves absolutely stuffed with gorgeous Chinese porcelains - some affordable and some out of reach:

Keep an eye out for the resident cat, who DOES NOT want to play nice:

Across a little pathway is the "warehouse" where you can wander for a few hours...

They have everything from little chopstick rests and tea sets to giant vases, fishbowls, sinks, and fountains.  Not to mention a life-size Mao statue to greet your guests:

Or maybe some Chinese Immortals or household gods to guard your home

Keep looking and you'll see some really cool antique window shutters or doors

Vases and Ceramic Wall Hangings

And Garden Stools for Tired Shoppers!

The history of the Jungle is more than just a ceramics shop.  It has one of the original "Dragon Kilns" that were used in the last century to make the pottery cups used on the Malaysian rubber plantations.  The wood-fired kilns are built from brick and mud and look like a huge dragon's tail.  There are only 2 left in Singapore and this is one (you can see the dragon's tail as it disappears in the background):

As we left the Jungle, we saw a sign for another Ceramics workshop and decided to check it out. It looked deserted but we wandered in and found the only other dragon kiln (under the big aluminum roof), which has recently been revived by local artist potters:

 Just as happened to me other times in Singapore, we just looked in to investigate and were surprised to find some artists at work and ready to share their expertise and love of pottery with us. This is Hetty (with Bronia) who became our expert "guide."

The door of the furnace and the recycled wood ready to feed the fire:

Hetty let us go inside the kiln and see what it looks like - the ceiling is about 6 feet high:

and I think it is 50 feet long:

They only fire it up about once a year - it must be some huge event.  We are looking forward to them announcing it and checking it out when it happens.

Hetty then showed us the gallery where the artists show some of their work.  Most of the clay comes from here in Singapore and most of these pieces had no glaze - just the natural shine that comes from the ash from the wood fire.  Amazing!

Of course there was something funny that caught my eye in this place.  You try to decode it:

I hope you're not too thirsty!

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