This is the first of a series of blog posts by Ann Schunior, recently returned from her second Nicaragua brigade (the first was 10 years ago) with Potters for Peace. I will be posting one a week, so keep checking back for more….
I’m back from 2 weeks in Nicargua with Potters for Peace, where a group of 7 American potters shared experiences and techniques with Nicaraguan potters. Benita Romero of La Paz Centro is the most traditional potter we visited. Benita makes comales – a clay pan for cooking tortillas – as the women in her family have for generations. She then taught us to make tortillas the same way she makes the pots – by patting them out with the palm of her hand. We made tortillas and ate them with queso blanco. The comales in the kiln were at least 18” across, tho she also makes smaller ones.
In 1997 we sent Pete Seeger a fundraising letter and he wrote back to us with some sage advice that we pull out from time to time when the going gets tough. Thanks for your support, Pete. We’ll miss you, for your terrific music and for so much more.
Benito Romero handbuilds a traditional comale during the 2008 brigade. After this Benito taught the brigadistas how to make corn tortillas.
The 2014 Brigade to Nicaragua will run from January 25 – February 8 and registration has begun.
Potters and non-potters alike are welcome to join this hands-on experience where we’ll visit, learn from, and work with indigenous Nicaraguan potters. The group will travel by minibus to remote pottery villages and stay in rustic hotels or, occasionally, with villagers.
This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and craft of this lovely country.
The fee is $1800 which includes all costs except airfare to and from Nicaragua and minor personal expenses. More information plus a registration package is available here.
Board member Haddie Hadachek of Black Bear Pottery in Brainerd, Minnesota, talks about Potters for Peace on her local TV news show. Click through on the title above to watch this 3-minute video.
After eight years of hard work, Peter Chartrand has stepped down from his post as US Director of Potters for Peace and we are happy to welcome Abby Silver, a potter from Boulder, Colorado, to the position.
Abby was a production potter for many years and now works on large public art pieces. She has travelled extensively and has worked as both an employee and a volunteer with several community organizations. She is also a long-time supporter of Potters for Peace. We are confident that her skills and energy will be valuable assets for our organization.
Peter Chartrand will continue his filter work with Potters for Peace but please direct all inquiries, both about filters and on other matters, to firstname.lastname@example.org and Abby will send them on to the appropriate Potters for Peace people.
At this time we would like to thank Peter for his hard work and dedication as the US “point person” for Potters for Peace and we look forward to working with him in future Ceramic Water Filter projects. Peter will remain a vibrant part of PfP in our filter program.
Abby’s full contact information is:
Potters for Peace
PO Box 2214
Boulder CO 80306
One of the groups we’ve given technical assistance to is the Magu Cooperativa in La Arada, Honduras near the border with El Salvador. They are keeping the Lenca tradition alive and well with their beautiful pieces using the traditional Lenca clay resist technique. They have grown in to a new studio and workshop. They employ women in the community to make and decorate pieces and have grown to the point that as of last week they were working to fill a 1,200 piece order. We’re proud of the work they produce and look forward to working with them in the future to help them implement some new design ideas they are working on.
Cooperativa San Expedicto is a pottery co-op of women making black pottery in the style of Mata Ortiz, Mexico with a beautiful, rich black luster surface. This is a new group we are working with in the Department of Jinotega. Recently we had a workshop for the women in design and throwing on the wheel. They are a delightful group of women to work with, very energized and with lots of ideas.
Finishing up his work in Ha-Mashamba, Limpopo, South Africa working with the Mokondini Women’s Potter in partnership with the University of Virginia and University of Venda in South Africa, Peter Chartrand sent on pictures of his work building a kiln for the group and working on clay/burn out material formulas for water filters. The women were great to work with!
Board members and volunteers staff our tables at NCECA 2012
At the Potters for Peace tables at NCECA 2012 in Seattle, board members and volunteers spent the weekend fundraising and exchanging ideas and information with the many people who visited us. This is always a good fundraising opportunity and to those of you who supported us by entering the raffle (for a ceramic water filter), buying a t-shirt or a piece of Nicaraguan jewellery, or making a donation, thanks.
It was great to make personal contact with our supporters and to spread the word (in person) about our work with Nicaraguan potters, our brigades and our filter projects. See you at NCECA 2013!
For those of you whose eyes lit up when we described our unforgettable brigades, check our website in September for the dates and application form for our 2013 brigade.
Ann Schunior, one of the people who was part of our 2012 Brigade, has had an excellent article about Potters for Peace published in Hand/Eye magazine. The article describes our work with subsistence potters and is accompanied by a mini-slideshow.
Read the article and see the slideshow here.