Today would be a big day ... our visit to the Great Wall of China where Anne and I would finally realize our dream of walking on the Great Wall. We could hardly wait the anticipation was so great. Unfortunately the day would not turn out to be one of the better ones.

Since we arrived in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon (it's now Saturday morning) we'd not seen a glimpse of the Sun. The weather was gray and overcast, but not raining thank goodness, and the temperature was hovering around the 60 degree mark making the days comfortable. And there was always that haze in the sky obscuring your distant views. When Anne and I awoke the first thing we did was look out the window to see what kind of day it was. It was immediately apparent that the weather had further deteriorated. It was cloudier, colder and, unfortunately, a bit of a drizzle in the air. We were disappointed, but we still looked forward to walking on the Great Wall no matter how bad the weather was.

We were originally scheduled to visit the Great Wall at Ba Da Ling and, on the return trip, we would stop and visit the Ming Tombs and a cloisonné factory. As the bus progressed toward the Great Wall the weather did not improve so our tour escort decided to rearrange the order of our day to give the weather a chance to improve. Our first stop would be the cloisonné factory.

I should mention before going further that this was another example of a "good thing" or "bad thing" byproduct of taking an escorted tour. The tour organizers always make arrangements for the tour buses to stop at local factories where articles can be purchased. If you're taking a tour you have no choice but to make the stop whether you're interested or not. If you're not on a tour you'd miss these little stops and probably save a lot of money. I actually found them to be very interesting.

I know you've all seen examples of Chinese cloisonné in the stores at home. But have you ever thought about how it was made? I never did, and I was thoroughly surprised observing the process at this factory. I had no idea of what was involved.

Cloisonne for sale, Beijing
Displays of plates and vases

Cloisonne worker, Beijing

Gluing metal forms in place

My first surprise was to learn that the articles actually have a metal base to them. In the photo (left) a worker is gluing very small metal forms onto the plate base. These small metal forms form the patterns of the pictures that appear on the vase.

Cloisonne worker, Beijing
Cloisonne worker, Beijing



Once the small metal pattern forms are glued into place the workers fill the spaces with a selected color from a series of powders mixed with water.

Cloisonne worker, Beijing
Cloisonne worker, Beijing

After filling the pattern forms with the various colors the articles are then smoothed by hand. This part was a bit confusing as the powdered colors were mixed with water and, therefore, water soluble, and this process depended on water to smooth the article as it rotated at high speed. I would have thought the colors would have just dissolved, but they didn't.

The next and final step in the process was the firing of the articles in the kiln, and then it was onto the showroom floor for all of us to marvel at and, of course, purchase.

Mei our tour escort in the Cloisonne showroom, Beijing
Mei standing next to some large
cloisonné pieces in the showroom
Pieces we bought for ourselves and gifts
Anne and I did our part to support the
Chinese economy by purchasing the above
pieces, some for us and some to give as
Christmas presents to family

We had hoped the weather would improve while we spent our time and money at the cloisonné factory, but that was not to be. It was still very gray and overcast, but the drizzle that was coming down when we boarded the bus at the hotel had stopped. Mei decided to delay our arrival at the Great Wall even more and scheduled our next stop to be the Ming Tombs located not to far from the Great Wall.

Continue to the next page to see the photographs of the Ming Tombs ...

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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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