I was recently one of eight participants at an international ceramic conference in Jianshui, a small city in south-western China. Jianshui is situated in a predominantly rural area known as the Purple Valley, just north of Vietnam. It has clean air, a burgeoning middle-class and a living pottery heritage of several thousand years. As a group of visiting professionals, we were invited primarily to attend the opening of a publicly funded ceramics village. We were also asked to share our art backgrounds, conduct demonstrations, observe a national throwing and decorating competition, participate in an international exhibition and tour many of the local cultural sites. As a finale, we were asked to share our observations at a closing symposium, and to “please bring a suit and tie”. An agenda that unfolded over a couple weeks, interspersed with little sleep and a lot of amazing food.