Unscheduled Stop

When we decided to visit the Great Wall, we hired a guide and a driver for the trip, which was supposed to go from the hotel to the Great Wall at Mutianyu and back again.

Like most things in Beijing, this trip was full of surprises. Like the unscheduled stop at the cloisonné factory in Huairou, a place whose primary claim to fame is that it is the suburb of Beijing with the least air pollution.

Now, cloisonné production is not exactly environmentally neutral and safe. The process involves heat, adhesives, and chemicals. The workers we saw were not using masks, gloves, or eye protection. When I asked about the glue they used to attach copper strips to the copper vessels that would eventually become vases, I was told that the glue was made from an herb of some kind.

We were not allowed to see the plating part of the process. Given the messiness and hazards of plating, I was not too surprised.