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  • Writer's pictureGeobunga

The Ancient Chinese Secret to Outdoor Garden Pottery


A handsome focal point in the garden. A bold splash of color near the entryway. A subtle accent on the lanai — these are just a handful of the charming things we do with outdoor pottery.

But where and when did it all begin?

A not-so-lost art

We’re not exactly sure of that answer, but we can say with absolute certainty that the pottery we carry is from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and Nanjing, China— where it’s sourced directly by Geobunga owner Andrew Dedrick.

Pottery from these Asian regions remains a not-so-lost art — the pots have been handcrafted in the same tradition for the past 2,000 or so years.

Back then, ceramics was less about decoration and more about practical uses such as grain and food storage, water transport and of course — wine consumption 🙂

A land that time forgot?

A visit to the pottery-making regions of Nanjing will take you back to a time that feels very little like 2014.

Here, mist-shrouded mountains shoot up from the earth, teeming with dense groves of bamboo before gently sloping into ancient rice paddies and traditional pottery villages.

In these villages, potters turn clay by hand on potter’s wheels upon the open floors of clay-walled shacks.

More experienced potters craft the bigger pots — some up to 6 feet tall — which require more time and skill.

The finished pieces are wood-stamped with decorative patterns (or not), dried and then glazed with coloring pigment before being loaded onto simple wooden carts.

The carts carry the pots to an enormous, elongated kiln built of clay brick that runs down the slope, where they are loaded into access doors every 30-40 feet.

It’s interesting to note that despite the color pigmentation, all pots enter the kiln in the same muted cream color. Their final color depends on the pigment and position in the kiln they’re in and how it gets.

The wood-fired kilns are sealed for days while the pottery bakes in temperatures between 1,800-2,000 degrees celsius.

Once fired, the pottery is stacked to cool and dry before a final inspection.

Flawed pieces are sold at local markets, and flawless pieces board a container to be offloaded here in Hawaii for — you guessed it — the beautification of your home and garden.

Lo-tech isn’t dead

The next time you see a piece of Geobunga outdoor pottery, remember — there’s nothing automated about its creation.

Our pottery is still one of the few products in this world that’s crafted entirely by hand, craftsmanship and ancient tradition!


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