Day 5: Nicaraguan Journal

Spent the day at Ducuale Grande (an hour out­side Esteli), par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Potters for Peace equiv­a­lent of a ceramic paint­ing party where you pay to paint designs on pre­fab­ri­cated ceramic pieces and then take them home. In this case, our fear­less leader had arranged to buy an assort­ment of hand­made pieces from the pot­ters at Ducuale Grande in order that we could learn their unique dec­o­rat­ing technique.

Ducuale Grande is a well-established all-woman stu­dio with rel­a­tively sophis­ti­cated designs and tech­niques, although their leader passed away a cou­ple of years ago so, along with mourn­ing their loss, they are hav­ing to reor­ga­nize their group. They make both thrown and hand­built pots, func­tional and decorative.

All their work is bur­nished and then fired once in a tra­di­tional wood kiln, which leaves the clay dark orange. Then they  paint dec­o­ra­tions on the pots using a slip of liq­uid clay mixed with sieved wood ash and a brush made out of a chicken feather.

The pots are fired again, this time in a smokey atmos­phere so that the clay that has not been cov­ered with slip turns a dark brown, while the clay that has been pro­tected by the slip remains a browny-orange colour. When the pots are cool, the slip is washed off so that the unsmoked dec­o­ra­tion is revealed, and then scraf­fito lines are added.

We spent the day try­ing to mas­ter the art of paint­ing thick slip with a chicken feather and then scratch­ing out­lines around the dec­o­ra­tions using a spoke from a bicy­cle wheel. Meanwhile, the Ducuale pot­ters put up with us get­ting under­foot while they car­ried on bur­nish­ing their own pots, smok­ing our pots, sell­ing pots to a bus­load of grin­gos, and even cook­ing us a deli­cious chicken stew for lunch.

Here are some of the pots we came up with:

Dinner and lodg­ings were at La Granja in Condega (girls in one room, all boys in the other) and most of us shiv­ered all night: Condega is up in the mountains and it was cold.

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  • By A Tale of Two Piggy Banks on September 10, 2015 at 5:04 am

    […] made by a single person and for decoration they  use a slip-resist technique that I described in a previous post. On my last visit to Ducuale Grande a voluptuous, polka-dotted piggy bank kept looking at me while […]

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