Upcoming Gallery Show in Portland during NCECA (March 22-24) – updated artist list

Posted by Abby Silver

Potters for Peace is proud to host an exhibition and sale during the 2017 Portland NCECA.  The show, titled Clay As Our Common Language will feature work by over 50 artists from around the US and Nicaragua.

Truitt-Border Wall VII 001 - CopyJennifer Mally - Copy

Border Walls VII by Penny Truitt                         Untitled by Jennifer Mally 

The show will be at the Eastlund Hotel, 1021 NE Grand Ave. in the Perle & Galena room on the 6th floor, open from 10am-5pm Wednesday March 22 – Friday March 24 with a closing reception from 5-8pm on Friday.  The hotel is directly across the street from the Oregon Convention Center.

The following artists will be featured:

Adrienne Stacey; Angela Clark; Ash Kyrie; Barbara Reinhardt; Calvin Ma; Carlos Lopez & Luisa Blas; Cathi Newlin; Craig Martell; Dale Donovan; Dave Gamble; Dee Schaad; Dick Lehman; Dominique Ellis; Don Hall;  Donna Williams; Doug Hanson; Erika Sandana; Fred Hamann; Guillermo Cuellar; Haddie Hadacheck,; Jan Schachter; Jeff Noska; Jennifer Mally; Jim Nulty; Jimmy Clark; Joan Chihan; John Glick; Joseph Kowalczak; Linda Arbuckle; Linda Christianson; Lynn Wood; Macy Dorf; Malia Landis; Maria Spies; Migdalia Munoz; Mika Seeger; Norman Calero; Pamela Quyle; Penny Truitt; Peter Chartrand; Richard Notkin; Rick Hintz; Rick Mahaffey; Roger Calero; Sandra Blain; Scott Frankenburger; Simon Levin; Steve Branfman; Steve Earp; Steve Smith; Susan Greenleaf; Thomas (Bud) Skupniewitz; Tim See; Tom Colman; Tony Natsoulas; Warren MacKenzie; Wesley Wright.

WaSH Training Opportunity at NC Conference

Posted by Abby Silver

Delivering Effective WASH Training

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, October 15 – 19, 2016

Would you like to become a fantastic facilitator of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training? The Delivering Effective WASH Training (DEWT) workshop is for you.

 

This workshop gives you the knowledge and skills you need to effectively facilitate and adapt lessons on WASH. During this workshop you build core skills in the areas of communication, instruction and facilitation. You are also exposed to basic concepts in lesson design. Find out more at:

 

http://www.cawst.org/services/trainings/-KNmOcQTXl25joJpuVrn

Work Brigade 2016 – Day 6 (Sunday July 3)

Posted by Abby Silver

The finishing touches….Sun1

Built screens to sieve the clay to make a fine mortar to built the kiln roof.

Sun2

Kit and James are using the sieves.

Sun3

Took a walk and saw this pig on the road just taking a nap in a mud puddle!

Sun4

Grinding old bricks down into grog to add to the mortar. Yukky job!

Sun5

Constructing the roof to the kiln. Step 1: make a form from plywood and brace it up flush with the top of the kiln. Next, dip bricks in the hand-made mortar and stack them vertically on the form. Finally, place threaded rod around the bricks and tighten them together. The remaining slip was poured on top.

Sun6

A picture of the entire kiln and shed as of Sunday.

Work Brigade 2016 – Day 5 (Saturday July 2)

Posted by Abby Silver

The kiln shed gets a roof, and the kiln walls are done.Sat1

The kiln roof will be finished tomorrow.

Sat2

Carlos’s studio has a beautiful flowering tree full of butterflies.

Sat3

Oscar the stone carver in San Juan de Limay took the group on a hike up a mountain path. They found wild cloves. It was very beautiful!!  Took a group picture.
Sat4
A picture of the village of San Juan de Limay from the mountain top.

Work Brigade 2016 – Day 4 (Friday July 1)

Posted by Abby Silver

Another day, and more giant steps forward!

Fri1

Constructed the first half of the chimney today.  The challenge of tying the old kiln and the new kiln together in one chimney required some fancy brick work!

Fri2

Another view of the kiln and the first few feet of the new chimney. The finished chimney will be 11 ft tall.  Completed 4 feet today, hoping to finish the chimney tomorrow. We also still need to build the roof of the kiln.

Fri3

This is an overview of the entire project. You can see the new kiln shed, the old kiln built by Ron Rivera and the new kiln.

Fri4

Today there were two beautiful ducks in the river. This is where the group cools off every day; also the source for water to make mortar and clay.

Fri6

The group is spending time under the porch of the studio getting to know Carlos’s family.

Fri5

There is a large extended family and many beautiful young children.

Fri7

The men who are working on the shed finished constructing the frame today. Martin, Carlos’s brother, is teaching us how to lay roof tiles. We will start the roofing tomorrow and plan to complete the shed.

Work Brigade 2016 – Day 3 (Thursday June 30)

Posted by Abby Silver

The project is moving quickly ahead, and everyone seems to be having a ton of fun!

Thurs1

Don Hall is our master brick cutter! He is using a machete to custom cut bricks for the kiln.

Thurs2

The kiln is getting close to its finished height, the kiln shed now has all the trusses in place.

Thurs3

A wonderful lunch prepared by Carlos’s family: beef, rice, vegetable salad and tortillas.

Thurs4

More afternoon work on the kiln and the shed…finished the body of the kiln.

Thurs5

The group cooling off in the shade in the maximum heat of the day.

Thurs6

Taking a break to cool off in the river as well!

Work Brigade 2016 – Day 1 (Tuesday June 28)

Posted by Abby Silver

The work brigade arrived in Nicaragua on Monday June 27, and hit the ground running on Tuesday.

Tues1

 

Breakfast in Managua with the group.

 

Tues2

Buying food for the week at the local market

Tues3

Stopping at an overlook on the way to San Juan de Limay

 

Tues4

 

Tues5

Assessing the kiln sight at Ceramic colectivo la Naranja

Carlos decided to keep the original kiln and build the new kiln next to it. The two kilns will share the chimney. Our group split into two groups one to build the shed and one the kiln. We are building both at the same time.

Learn to make pots the Nicaraguan way, in Wisconsin on June 11, 2016

Posted by Abby Silver

Join Potters for Peace and Nica potter Carlos Silva at a one-day workshop at Adamah Clay Studios in the Madison, WI greater metro area.

June 11, 2016 | 9 am to 8 pm | Fee: $75
Adamah Clay Studios of Bethel Horizon
4651 County Rd ZZ, Dodgeville, WI
608-574-8100
This is part of the larger, week-long workshop: Beyond the Bauhaus

As part of the Beyond the Bauhaus Workshop at Adamah, Carlos Silva will give a one-day demonstration of his throwing and decorating techniques. Carlos lives and works in San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua, a town that is famous for the refined ceramic work that is done there. Working with coloured slips, low-tech burnishing (using stones, pieces of smooth plastic, or whatever else can be found) and low-temperature wood firing, the potters of San Juan de Oriente produce pots that rival high-fired glazed ware.

In the evening a representative of Potters for Peace will give a presentation on the traditional potters of Nicaragua and the Ceramic Water Filter Project.

To register for this single-day event, contact Jennifer Mally at jennifer@bethelhorizons.org.

NICARAGUAN WKSP JUNE 11-flattened

PFP inspires 4th Grade Poet

Posted by Abby Silver

Board member Michael Standley gave a talk to several 4th grade classes in Portland OR about our filter and Nicaragua programs.   After the presentation about the water filter, he described how rural potters improve their lives by selling their pottery, and how we’ve worked with many generations of potters in the same family.  He told of the hardships involved, like having to dig their own clay, sometimes under cover of night, and carrying it home in gunny sacks.  He discussed how people cope with poverty.

Later that day, one of the teachers sent him this poem by student Sophia Steckler:4TH GRADE POEMsm

El Calero-Day 4….SUCCESS!!!

Posted by Abby Silver

Four days of hard work pays off!  The completed kiln shed looks fabulous, and is built to last, with steel construction certain to thwart even the most hardy of termites!  Congrats to the whole crew!!!

Nov 27-a Nov 27-b Nov 27-c Nov 27-d Nov 27-e Nov 27-f

Until next time…..

Thanks to Hamilton (Ontario) Potter’s Guild

Posted by Abby Silver

Potters for Peace would like to thank the Hamilton Potter’s Guild (http://www.hamiltonpotters.ca/) for a generous grant to help the potters of El Ojoche, Nicaragua.  The funds will go to help complete their new workshop, which still lacks doors and windows.  Any remaining funds will go towards their wheel-throwing training, which has been very successful to date.  Your contribution makes a huge difference to these remote rural potters!

The new workshop in El Ojoche

The new workshop in El Ojoche

The women potters of El Ojoche

The women potters of El Ojoche

Working on the wheel, El Ojoche

Working on the wheel, El Ojoche

Thanks Elinor! And best wishes to all for a wonderful 2015!

Posted by Abby Silver

Thanks, Elinor, for supporting Potters for Peace and the potters of Nicaragua!

Our wonderful, intrepid volunteer Elinor Maroney is back home in Washington after a year in Nicaragua.  Once her brigade ended in February 2014, she re-visited each community to work  intensively for one or two weeks.  This type of peer to peer mentoring is invaluable to all artists, and particularly those who live in isolated villages as do the Nica potters we work with.

Elinor in El Calero

Throwing pots on a kick wheel while Teodora watches at El Calero

Trying Obvara raku with Pedro and Douglas in La Maysuta

Trying Obvara raku with Pedro and Douglas in La Maysuta

Saying good-bye to Consuelo, Sindy and Isidro in Santa Rosa

Saying good-bye to Consuelo, Sindy and Isidro in Santa Rosa

Elinor, we wish you the best!

 

 

 

Documenting the last surviving Motu Potter in Boera Village

Posted by Abby Silver
Tomás Dietz  is and Australian-born a flamenco dancer/teacher by profession who has  Scottish, German and Motu (Papua New Guinea) heritage. Tomás is raising money to document the Motu ceramic tradition.  To contribute to his efforts, follow this link:  http://igg.me/at/motupottery/x/434542

Vabu Lohia Muri

Vabu Lohia Muri— ​Boio​ ​Moi​—​the last surviving Motu potter in Boera village

I’m calling out to the ​international ​community to support a project of cultural preservation, revival and development of traditional Motu pottery in Papua New Guinea, under ‘Project Gida’ at Boera Village. The field work is essentially to document the knowledge and oral history of the last surviving Motu potter in Boera village. The outcome would be to produce a detailed technical training video as well as a general interest video about traditional Motu pottery.Using this information I would investigate and implement educational programs to return relevance of this tradition to modern Motuans, to bring about a renewed source of meaning, artistry and pride, and therefore a revival of its practice.​ At the core of ​these ​programmes ​will be to establish a Motu Pottery Society​ that would be ​managed by women, ​since they are ​​the traditional ​practitioners and owners ​​of pottery in Motu culture. I also plan to launch activities in communities abroad where Motu Koita people have settled, thereby introducing an international chapter into this Project and thus developing another opportunity for cross-cultural experience for a broad spectrum of communities across the globe.

borea pot

Motu ‘hodu’, a traditional water-pot

Project Gida is ​the umbrella plan. It is ​non-profit, community-oriented, and specifically implemented to preserve and revive ​all identified ​fading traditions of the Motu people.​  ​Cultural strength equates with social stability. ​Thus, it will provide long-term ​and deeply rooted ​cultural well-being to the thousands of Motu people in PNG’s Central Province as well as to those living abroad. It promises to provide further significant flow-on benefit to the community at large in terms of cross-cultural education and tourism.

I am implementing this project on my own steam, and so I am hoping to receive donations from my community to help enable this important project.

ALLOCATION OF FUNDS:
Funds will be used primarily to buy airfares and visas to take a small documentary team of 4 people from Sydney to Boera. It’s hoped that funds will be sufficient to cover other project expenses, such as accommodation, food, materials and equipment, and field work vehicle hire.  Boera is a relatively isolated Motu village about an hour’s drive from Port Moresby. It once had a thriving pottery industry and was one of the most prolific centres of high quality pottery production until about the early 1950s when the process of westernisation brought this ancient industry to an end. Sadly, the situation was reflected in all the Motu villages, including Hanuabada, Porebada and Manumanu and to my knowledge, no attempts have yet been made to implement any programs of cultural preservation in this field .That​’​s why I​’​ve stood up and have made the commitment to make ​a difference. I am Australian, of Motu descent,​ so I am personally driven to ensure the success of this endeavour. But I represent all people who value world heritage, and I will not sit by and watch this ancient heritage die without doing something about it.

To find out more, and to make your donation, please visit the special Indiegogo Campaign by clicking on this link: http://igg.me/at/motupottery/x/434542

The Potter Writes Again – Elinor in Nicaragua

Posted by Abby Silver

Intrepid PFP volunteer Elinor Maroney is in the home stretch of her year working with Nicaraguan potters.  The following is excerpted from her full blog post at http://www.nicaragua-community.com/potter-writes/ .

When I arrived at the studio [in La Maysuta] Don Domingo was not there, but the three other potters were….We went up the hill and down the other side to Domingo’s house about 4:00pm and sat and tried to talk till dinner at 7:00pm. They always seem to suspect me and don’t really understand what I can share with them since I can’t talk to them much in Spanish. I know lots of words – and all the words that relate to clay! – but a conversation is very difficult because I can’t hear the words and process them fast enough. Domingo began to write questions for me and that does help.

Don Domingo's house

Don Domingo’s house

It took the kids a few days to warm up to this old lady who can’t talk to them. We did a pottery class this morning in the studio when none of the other potters was around. Probably used quite a bit of their precious hand processed clay, but had a good time – and it broke the ice.

Monday, October 21 already! [Son] Ricardo finally made two small houses in one morning! His usual work is a detailed “castle” with tile roof and many doors and windows – at least three stories tall – and he works on one piece for a full day. His tile roofs are to die for! He uses an umbrella stay sharpened in a certain way and has developed a technique to make the tiles look real – but in miniature. I brought him pictures of houses and churches so he would have a reference. I am so glad he is making smaller pieces. There is no way he can be paid for the time it takes to make one of his creations. And they are so fragile it is hard to transport them.

Ricardo's delicate castle - unfired

Ricardo’s delicate castle – unfired

Ricardo's charming smaller houses - unfired

Ricardo’s charming smaller houses – unfired

We have added a new low fire technique – Obvara Raku Firing. I found it on the Ceramic Arts Daily web site.  A pottery teacher in Texas has discovered an ancient European technique where the red hot pot is dipped in a solution of flour, sugar, yeast and water to make a piece look antique. It was developed to seal the pots so they are more water resistant.  It seems to be the newest American raku technique….Finally the day of the firing arrived! We filled an old barrel with already fired pieces adding sawdust and other organic materials, etc. Then we cleaned out an old bread oven kiln so we could pull pieces out and put them into sawdust, the flour/sugar/yeast mixture or touch them with horsehair or feathers.

Pablo helps take hot pots from the flaming kiln.

Pablo helps take hot pots from the flaming kiln.

The furiously burning kiln

The furiously burning kiln

 

 

 

 

 

Filter Demo + PFP featured at Moore College in Philadelphia

Posted by Abby Silver

PFP filter specialist Mike Stubna will be conducting a filter making demo at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, in conjunction with an exhibition at Moore College that features the filter.

FREE WORKSHOP:  August 1, 5pm – 8pm  http://www.theclaystudio.org/participate/events.php?id=513

EXHIBITION:  Interchange at Moore College of Art & Design Goldie Paley Gallery  June 14 – August 23, 2014 http://moore.edu/the-galleries-at-moore/exhibitions/current-exhibitions

PFP Exhibition at Moore College

PFP Exhibition at Moore College

Peter Chartrand’s Progress

Posted by Abby Silver

As regular readers will know, a long-time member of Potters for Peace, and our previous US Director, Peter Chartrand, has encountered some health issues, but things are looking up. Here’s what Peter wrote recently: “I’m doing well, responding to my chemo program with cancer indicators going steadily down and my back and fractured bones are knitting well. I can drive limited distances, walk a few blocks etc., sold my hard riding Toyota truck and bought a Honda CR-V. I bought a small electric kiln and hope to start firing soon.”

El Ojoche- making adobe bricks

Posted by Abby Silver

Elinor Maroney is spending a year volunteering with the Nicaragua program.  We will be posting excerpts from Elinor’s journal.   At the time of this writing, she is in the remote village of El Ojoche helping the potters with their throwing skills.  I have excerpted a section about making new adobe bricks for an addition to the group studio:

The trail from Rosa’s house to the studio is different now and makes a longer detour since the Brigade helped excavate an area for a new studio addition. The area we excavated with pick, heavy metal bar and shovel is now filled with 700 adobe building blocks the women potters have made since we were here a month ago. The women were processing clay by putting it in water, breaking up the largest lumps with their hands and then putting it through a screen into a settling tank. They said it takes about 8 days to dry out to where they can use it.

bricks and clay  slaking clay

In the evening I watched while some young men cobbled together a pipe hook-up with a coke bottle in the middle that pumped water down to the studio. One of them pumped for about an hour while the other two carried the buckets of water to a clay pit nearby.

drawing water

While I ate breakfast I realized the crew was back pumping water to the studio. I had checked it out last night and they were putting water into a pit full of adobe they had shoveled near the studio. This morning they are using that adobe clay mixed with some tall grass chopped into small pieces with a machete and filling the mold over and over. This morning it is two young guys and their dad – family of one of the potters. Before the day was over they had made another 110 adobe bricks.

making bricks

Concepcion’s sons had blisters on their hands and bruises on their shoulders from carrying the buckets full of adobe from the pit to the mold. It was her husband and sons who made the adobe bricks. One of the young boys was in the pit in clay up to his knees. He shoveled the clay up the side of the pit into a 5-gallon bucket. His brother carried the bucket to the mold across the studio and dumped it onto a piece of burlap while the father filled the mold with his hands and smoothed the top with water. The mold was lifted and moved over for the next filling. They worked until the pit was empty.

 

 

2014 Brigade Blog by Ann Schunior – part 5, Pre-Columbian pottery

Posted by Abby Silver

I found this sentence in a blog recently: Ceramics and pottery is a large and historical tradition in Nicaragua. The history of pottery dates back to the Spanish Conquest, 2,500 years ago. (http://nicaraguaviva.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/ceramics-pottery/)

I gasp at the mistakes, grammatical and factual in those two sentences, but pottery had a tradition in Nicaragua long before the conquistadors arrived, somewhat less that 2,500 years ago. Indeed, the indigenous potters were probably lucky that the Spanish didn’t introduce European pottery here, as they did in Mexico. Glazes were not used anywhere in ancient America and Spanish glazes were lead-based. The introduction of lead-based glazes to Mexico has lead to a heritage of lead poisoning. In Nicaragua, present day potters continue to pot as their ancestors did, forming pots by hand, decorating with colored clays, and burnishing the surfaces to make them shiny and water-tight.

MiMuseo, Granada

MiMuseo, Granada

Pre-Columbian pot, Mi Museo, Granada

Pre-Columbian pot, Mi Museo, Granada

Funerary pots. Mi Museo, Granada

Funerary pots. Mi Museo, Granada

Pre-Columbian Museum of Condega

Pre-Columbian Museum of Condega

 

We loved seeing you at NCECA!

Posted by Abby Silver
NCECA 2014 is now history! Thanks to all who stopped by our booth and supported us in any way. Special thanks goes out to the following generous clay suppliers, who collectively donated over $1200 worth of tools and supplies for our Nicaraguan communities:
Cedar Height Clay – Resco
Ceramics: Art and Perception
Chinese Clay Art Corp.
Dirty Girls Pottery Tools
Euclid’s
Mecca Pottery Tools
Mudtools
Peter Pugger Mfg., Inc.
Publishing House New Ceramics
Rovin Ceramics
Royal and Langnickel Brush Mfg.
Sanbao Studio
Shimpo Ceramics
U.S. Pigment Corp.
Xiem Studio Tools
Apologies if we have neglected anyone. You all rock!

2014 Brigade Blog by Ann Schunior – Part 4, Santa Rosa

Posted by Abby Silver

Santa Rosa is one of the few agrarian co-operatives remaining from the Sandinista era. The co-op was formed in the ’80s by 30 families who had been displaced by the terror and chaos of the insurrection against Somoza and the US involvement. (Remember the Iran-Contra affair?) Today it consists of about 700 people who farm 3000 acres of land. All families must participate in the communal farm. No one can move into Santa Rosa unless they’ve lived therefor six months and have proven their work ethic. The community is far more prosperous than many we visited. We stayed overnight with Consuelo, Isidro and their extended family of potters.

Our home for a night.

Our home for a night.

Isidro (he throws) and Consuelo (she decorates) trying out a technique one of us showed them. I've never met a potter who doesn't enjoy seeing a new trick.

Isidro (he throws) and Consuelo (she decorates) trying out a technique one of us showed them. I’ve never met a potter who doesn’t enjoy seeing a new trick.

Where ever we went, the kids picked up clay and joined us. They are not separated from adults as they so often are in the US.

Where ever we went, the kids picked up clay and joined us. They are not separated from adults as they so often are in the US.

Tia is perhaps the most remarkable person we met. Deaf since birth, she communicates with enthusiasm through gestures and vocalizations. She's a potter, but prefers taking the family's work to market to sell. The rest of the family prefers potting to selling, so they leave the market to her. Here she prepares lunch for us. The kitchen is tiny, with a small table and wood stove. Nevertheless, they fed 10 of us bountifully. And they're using a lot of their own pottery.

Tia is perhaps the most remarkable person we met. Deaf since birth, she communicates with enthusiasm through gestures and vocalizations. She’s a potter, but prefers taking the family’s work to market to sell. The rest of the family prefers potting to selling, so they leave the market to her. Here she prepares lunch for us. The kitchen is tiny, with a small table and wood stove. Nevertheless, they fed 10 of us bountifully. And they’re using a lot of their own pottery.

Santa Rosa's pottery. The pot with the green leaves came home with me.

Santa Rosa’s pottery. The pot with the green leaves came home with me.

Ann Schunior Blog, Post #3 – Loma Ponda

Posted by Abby Silver

Loma Ponda: On the top of a mountain, an hour from Somoto, about a kilometer from the Honduran border. We travel by pick-up truck because the roads are too bad for the van. Then about a mile’s hike to the top of the mountain because the final road washed out a couple of years ago. Finished pots are carried down this road to market. Says the women:  “We have everything that supports us. Animals—pigs, chickens and a cow. The land provides clay and colors. Everything we need is here. God has provided.”

 A mile of hiking uphill. Their road washed out a couple of years ago


A mile of hiking uphill. Their road washed out a couple of years ago

 The view from their workshop. They’re bringing coffee to drink in their own pitcher and mugs.


The view from their workshop. They’re bringing coffee to drink in their own pitcher and mugs.

I’ve been there twice and have seen almost no men. The women say they don’t need them. They also say they are away working in the cities.

I’ve been there twice and have seen almost no men. The women say they don’t need them. They also say they are away working in the cities.

Their work is the surprise. They’ll make whatever they see. Visitors bring them magazines; they copy what’s in them. Some work is done on the wheel. Much is hand-build. The colorants come from different local clays. The pieces are burnished, not glazed.

Their work is the surprise. They’ll make whatever they see. Visitors bring them magazines; they copy what’s in them. Some work is done on the wheel. Much is hand-build. The colorants come from different local clays. The pieces are burnished, not glazed.

Brigade 2014 blog by Ann Schunior – part 2

Posted by Abby Silver

Nicaragua post 2: The resist and smoke decorations of the Ducuale Grande pottery co-operative near Condega. The women use chicken feathers to apply a resist design of clay mixed with ashes on already-fired pieces. The pots are carefully placed back in the kiln and smoked for a few minutes. The clay/ash mix is then washed off, exposing, beneath the slip,  red clay that hasn’t been exposed to the fire.

Once-fired pots waiting to be decorated

Once-fired pots waiting to be decorated

Using a feather to apply a resist of clay mixed with ashes

Using a feather to apply a resist of clay mixed with ashes

Decorated pieces before they're fired

Decorated pieces before they’re fired

Smoking in the kiln

Smoking in the kiln. The kiln is open on two sides. Pots can be taken in and out from either side.

This is how the kiln is unloaded

This is how the kiln is unloaded

After this firing, the resist (ash+clay) is washed off. The resist part stays red; the rest turns darker from exposure to smoke.

After this firing, the resist (ash+clay) is washed off. The resist part stays red; the rest turns darker from exposure to smoke.

Hearty soup with lots of vegetables is a typical (and delicious) Nicaraguan meal. The pots are very low fired, but can hold liquids because they’re burnished. It’s almost worth a trip to Nicaragua to eat a meal like this. . . home cooked food in home cooked pottery.

Hearty soup with lots of vegetables is a typical (and delicious) Nicaraguan meal. The pots are very low fired, but can hold liquids because they’re burnished. It’s almost worth a trip to Nicaragua to eat a meal like this. . . home cooked food in home cooked pottery.

Brigade 2014 blog by Ann Schunior – part 1

Posted by Abby Silver

Ann Schunior, one of the 2014 Brigadistas to Nicaragua, has put together some fabulous posts about the trip.  We’re sharing them with your on our blog, about one a week, so keep checking back for more of her insights and pictures!  Read on…..

I’m back from 2 weeks in Nicragua with Potters for Peace, where a group of seven 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, though she also makes smaller ones.

Comales in the kiln

Comales in the kiln

Benita makes a comale

Benita makes a comale

Making tortillas in the comale

Making tortillas in the comale

MIT’s Susan Murcott brings ceramic filters to Ghana

Posted by Abby Silver

This article is from MITnews:

In the World: A long haul to bring clean water to developing nations

MIT’s Susan Murcott expands ceramic-filter production to three continents, bringing jobs and curbing disease. David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

ghana

Pure Home Water has reached more than 100,000 poor rural women, children, and families with safe drinking water via ceramic pot filters produced at a factory in Tamale, Ghana. Photo courtesy of the researcher.

 

December 10, 2013

“It’s been a long, hard slog,” says Susan Murcott, a senior lecturer in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, describing her efforts to disseminate water-filtration systems to some three million people in northern Ghana. About half of these people presently lack access to a reliable supply of clean drinking water. But after nine years of efforts by Murcott and her students, the project has begun to make a difference.

Factories that produce these locally sourced, clay-pot filters — originally invented by Fernando Mazariengas of Guatemala and since improved and widely disseminated by Murcott and others — have already been built at 52 locations in 31 countries, she says, with the newest of these factories in Guatemala, Uganda, South Africa, and China. So far, the Ghana factory, built in 2011 and reaching full production last year, has provided sustainable, safe drinking water to more than 100,000 people in that country’s impoverished, rural northern sector. In January, 10 MIT students will work there to help expand production and monitor outcomes.

The filters — made with a mixture of local clays and precisely sieved, combustible material, such as rice husks — have been shown to reduce microbial contamination in water by 98 percent, leading to a more than two-thirds decrease in diarrheal disease among families using them. The combustible material burns off when the clay is fired, leaving a network of tiny pores that serve to filter out sediment and microbes as water trickles through; the filter is further treated by the application of colloidal silver nanoparticles that have antimicrobial properties. One such filter can produce enough clean water daily to serve the needs of a large family.

Murcott and colleagues recently received grants from the government of Dubai, which will allow them to expand production and distribution in Ghana, Guatemala, and Nepal.

In addition to clean water, Murcott has worked to improve sanitation in Ghana, where most communities lack improved toilet facilities. Together with D-Lab student John Maher and Ghanaian volunteers, and with support from the MIT Public Service Center, she recently built a large latrine facility at a school in Taha, Ghana. The team will expand in January to a neighboring village, Gbalahi, which is seen as a critical step toward reducing preventable contagion.

About the size of New York state, “Ghana today has the fifth-worst rate of sanitation in the world,” Murcott says, citing United Nations statistics. Open defecation is common, especially in the poorer, rural northern parts of the country.

Murcott began her career designing innovations for large urban sanitation systems, such as the wastewater treatment plant on Boston’s Deer Island, but soon realized that the greatest need for sanitation lay in rural, poor regions or urban slums where such systems were unaffordable. She has since turned her attention to improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene in developing nations.

But it’s been a hard road, she says: Everything has taken longer than expected, with difficulties in supply chains, communication — Ghana has more than 50 different languages — illiteracy, and poverty. The filtration systems produced by the factory Murcott’s company set up cost $10 to make, but are sold for $6 to the rural poor — still a steep price in a place where most people earn less than $1 a day. (Large agencies have sometimes paid full price and then given the filters away for free.)

But the country is politically stable, most people with a primary level of education speak some English, and “the people are really friendly and welcoming,” she says. “That’s what has kept me going back.”

Murcott says her commitment to the production of these filters in Ghana over the last nine years has been driven by two things: maintaining trust with the people of that region and the project’s impact on MIT students — roughly 125 of whom have traveled to Ghana. “Part of the reason I do this work,” she says, “is I like to see students have their worlds blown open, to have them realize it’s a bigger world out there than just here.”

Read the original article here:  http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/long-haul-to-bring-clean-water-to-developing-nations-1210.html

PfP Reps attend the 2013 Water and Health Conference at UNC

Posted by Abby Silver

kairaIn October, Abby Silver, Robert Pillers and Kaira Wagoner represented Potters for Peace at the 2013 Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy, hosted by the University of North Carolina. The conference was a good opportunity for networking with other Water Sanitation and Health (WaSH) practitioners.

At the Ceramic Water Filter (CWF) side event, PfP Filter Coordinator Kaira Wagoner made a presentation that was entitled Strategies for Improving the Ceramic Pot Filter: Sustainability, Production, Design and Communication. Kaira stressed that better communication is vital in order to

  1. facilitate the sharing of solutions to common production problems
  2. improve the reach of technical trouble-shooting by groups like Potters for Peace
  3. ensure that the right studies are being performed in academic settings and that the results of those studies are effectively disseminated in the field.

The session was attended by members of the Ceramics Manufacturing Working Group,  representatives of a number of NGOs, CWF factory owners, academics, and other stakeholders. Following four presentations, the group convened a round-table discussion.

A key outcome of this discussion was the decision to form a Google-Group Forum to facilitate communication between NGOs, producers, and academics. With this added tool for multidisciplinary communication, stakeholders can better work together to support efficient production of effective filters.

Join Our 2014 Brigade

Posted by Abby Silver

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.

Potters for Peace in the news

Posted by Abby Silver

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.

Abby visits Nicaragua

Posted by Abby Silver
El Colero collective works on an order of 80 chicken water jars.

El Colero collective works on an order of 80 chicken water jars.

I went to Nicaragua in late June to visit our artisans and meet with our in-country staff.  It was an amazing time in an amazing, beautiful country traveling with and meeting wonderful people. The artists in every community continue to grow their craft and expand their markets. They also continue to appreciate and count on the help we provide and we continue helping the scattered communities network with each other.

We have hired a wheel-throwing expert (Carlos Humberto Silva Espinosa) from La Naranja to teach the potters of El Ojoche and El Colero to throw.  We are helping the potters of Ducoale get clay from the nearby potters of La Maysute.  And so it goes, as these craftspeople strive to improve their work, to gain exposure to larger markets, and to learn from one another.  It was a privilege to see it with my own eyes.  I hope you enjoy a few of the many pictures I took along the way!

Unloading a kiln at Ducuale Grande.

Unloading a kiln at Ducuale Grande.

 

The potters of El Ojoche get a throwing lesson.

The potters of El Ojoche get a throwing lesson.

The new shop at Las Curenas.

The new shop at Las Curenas.

Work of the Loma Panda potters.

Work of the Loma Panda potters.

Young Artists Promote Clean Drinking Water & PFP

Posted by Abby Silver

A huge thank you to the members of the Briggs Elementary School art club in Florence South Carolina for their educational and fundraising efforts!  With the guidance of their art teacher, these 3rd to 6th graders chose to educate their community this year about the need for clean water and about Potters for Peace.  They made small pots and informational handouts to give out at their school family day, created an information table, and collected donations.

The students heard about Potters for Peace from their teacher, Laura McFadden, who heard about us a few years ago at a conference where PFP was included during presentations on art-related service organizations. She became a supporter and has often worn one of our t-shirts to school. During Art Club this year she presented several options for fundraising projects and the students were most excited about Potters for Peace.

Thanks to the kids for their hard work and thanks to Laura for raising awareness of the importance of artists working together to support each other.  We’re very proud of their efforts, and welcome them to the PFP family!

A young artist stands next to the information table.

A young artist stands next to the information table.