From what I can gather Chongqing hotpot is distinguished by copious amounts of red chilies and huajiao. The broth is further fortified with an inordinate amount of tallow that is, by many accounts, recycled after use. I didn't eat much of it and my wife learned that Chongqing hotpot is equally intolerable regardless of the city that it is served in.
transportation artery: cars and barges
|Brightly colored bridge against a drab cityscape|
|Some of the hidden infrastructure of Chongqing's past|
This image and his wikipedia page can teach more about Stilwell than the eponymous museum
And that's where the high-tech visions and my handcraft teaching skills encounter their first rub because the woodshop's description began to transmute into more of a makerspace and moreso something even more abstractly defined. The youthful entrepreneur had studied architecture at the University of Wyoming, I think, and was deeply impressed with his experiences there and the handskill level of his fellow classmates, already well established at the beginning of the program. From his direct experiences, he understands the broad potential of a well managed and stocked woodshop, which is more than can be said for other woodshop startups in China. But in his present setup he had also had some positive experiences with team building, which he wanted to continue in the newer location. He also spoke about creating a space for prototyping which would require, at a minimum, lots of programmable CNC (4 axis?) and 3D printers, and whatever else might attract members with its novelty. The floorspace started to feel smaller, the more he spoke about future plans for the woodshop.
I had seen some photos of the original workshop from wechat and so I asked to be given a tour. After we left the main city, the car weaved its way through a winding maze of an industrial zone that was slowly being relocated, too. I gradually understood how its location hampered efforts to develop it as a school. Even local taxi drivers find it difficult to deliver students to the woodshop.
The original location has a high ceiling to dissipate the heat and provided enough space for a second floor loft that was closed in for quiet needs. Woodworking is a lifestyle movement in the PRC. This was made evident by the open hearth (!) and the wet bar at the main entrance. The lifestyle facility now needs to get closer to where the lifestylers work and work/live out the rest of their lifestyles. The more centrally located woodshop won't be opened until October of 2016.
|Traditional ornamented bridge (rebuilt in steel and reinforced concrete)|
Modern sluice gates on the (岷江; Mínjiāng)
Despite my routine complaints, I wholeheartedly recommend Dujiangyan for anybody in China to pay a visit. It's enough out of the way that it's a destination world heritage site. For anybody who needs a break from Shanghai or Beijing, it's a refreshing getaway. The gardens associated with Dujiangyan ably complement the water features.
|Garden Framing Feature|
|Topiary and Bonsai|
|Joinery and Toenailing|
The gardens have many well executed design elements as well as several examples of timberframe structures that are noteworthy. There was a rustic gazebo that at least had some mortise and tenon work in its braces. I didn't get a chance to observe the joinery upclose so I cannot say whether the braces are primarily functional or decorative.
|Precarious tiles under colonnade roof|
|Pendants and lanterns|
|Eave pendant closeup|
Painted pendant elements
|Octagonal Purlins intersecting pendant|
Dragon rafter resting in pendant
Examples with secondary beams.
In these two examples, separate beams are mortised into posts that are inserted into a low mortise on the pendant.I cannot see what this beam and lengthened pendant add to the overall structure. The mortise weakens the corner post with no apparent benefit and the through tenon is vulnerable to water infiltration being so close to the drip line. A 45* brace would certainly be better applied here. There is even this example showing a crippled beam carrying a pendant.
|Questionably crippled beam|
Rusticated tiles and rusting nails
|Evidently misapplied roof tiles|
|Seemingly better applied roof tiles|
Despite the above negative examples, I am optimistic about the trend in Chinese timberframing. Unfortunately, this movement will probably be spurred to react decisively only when the losses are irretrievable and the intrinsic value of this craft are recognized outside of the mainland. I've seen a few examples of timberframe restoration, notably in Shanghai and Hangzhou. The main obstacles are the same as for the improving the skills in other building trades: low wages, and low respect for manual labor; and a paucity of information in Chinese (for those who can read). I did see some specific examples that offer some hope for the craft.
|Clever upgrade or hack job?|