This was my third brigade to Nicaragua and it seems that they just keep getting better and better. Our first day featured a visit to Filtron, a ceramic water filter factory where we tried out the filter press and watched an engrossing presentation on the PFP Ceramic Water Filter Program by our fearless leader.
In the pottery museum in Granada we saw the pre-Columbian origins of some of the forms and decoration that we would encounter throughout our trip, and at La Paz Centro we learned how to make both tortillas and comales (the traditional clay plate that tortillas are cooked in).
At Las Sabenetas we jumped right into a pile of wet clay and horse manure that we mixed with our bare feet and then used as mortar to build a traditional kiln. In San Juan de Limay we carved sandstone at the studio of the well-known carver, Oscar Enrique Casco, and were serenaded on guitar by a neighbour who happened by. At Ducuale we had a sort of pottery painting party: the artisans demonstrated their unique form of slip-resist smoked decoration and then they gave us bowls, cups and plates so that we could try out their techniques. Plus we got to take our finished work home.
We enjoyed homestays and delicious home-cooked meals at Santa Rosa, and we hiked up the steep washed-out roadway to remote Loma Panda, to see (and buy) some of the most innovative pottery in Nicaragua.
At every taller (studio) we visited we got our hands dirty—wedging, throwing and handbuilding—as we learned from the artisans and they learned from us. The trip was truly inspiring, plus we each got one of the first PfP pins (made in San Juan de Oriente). On our last night, as we stuffed our bags and suitcases with the pottery we had bought, we all agreed that the brigade had been unforgettable.
Here is a collection of photos from the trip. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.