Liu Heping, Teaware Artist
“We were too poor to afford real toys, so clay was my toy.”
Following the corridors of a modest courtyard home, we arrived in a cramped kiln room, packed full of teaware. This is where we first met Liu Heping. He stood in front of his kiln, pulling out brick after brick, sweat rolling down his face in the Guangdong heat. He unloaded the kiln with anticipation, grabbing a few cups for us to use. “Let’s have tea,” he said.
We sat down next to one of his handmade tea trays and started brewing a middle aged Puer tea from Bulang.
Heping began his love affair with clay at a young age. His parents both worked with ceramics and the trade was passed down for several generations. “I remember my mother telling me how she used to labor like a workhorse mixing clay. When she was 14 years old, she worked in a clay mixing facility in Yaozhou [Shaanxi province]. They mix clay with machines now, but back then it was all done by hand.”
Heping’s mother took a brief break from clay production and during this time met his father, who served in the people’s liberation army. After giving birth to Liu Heping and his sister, she went back to work mixing clay and later as a ceramicist making bowls. “I would follow my mother to work everyday when I was younger. I grew up with my hands in clay.”
After a chance meeting with an artist in the 1990’s, Heping followed his passion for crafting clay to Foshan city in Guangdong province. “I am very happy to see the modern ceramics scene thriving in Foshan and Guangdong,” he explained of his choice of locations. “And I like the clay here.”
After we finished sipping from Heping’s well-used tea set, he generously offered to give us each a cup to take as our own. We accepted his offer, knowing full well this wouldn’t be the last of his cups we would come in contact with. And thus began our partnership with Liu Heping, and our announcement of offering his teaware. We hope you enjoy his pots, cups, teapeats, and other wares as much as we do.
You can view Liu Heping’s work in our teaware section.