Join our January Brigade

Posted by Patty Osborne

mud for websiteWe are pleased to announce the dates for our January 2018 Brigade.

From January 20 to Feb 3, brigadistas will travel throughout rural Nicaragua, visiting pottery workshops, learning about our ceramic filter project, buying pots and getting their hands dirty.

The cost is $1800US which covers all travel, accommodation and meals within Nicaragua.

Registration is now open. Visit our Brigade Page for more information. You can download an orientation packet and a registration form there.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the beauty of Nicaragua and the warmth its people!

Join our August Work Brigade

Posted by Patty Osborne

DATES: August 21 to August 30, 2017
COST: $900 if registered by June 15, $975 after June 15

Join Potters for Peace for a 10-day Work Brigade to Loma Panda, Nicaragua. Loma Panda is a very small mountain settlement located in the municipality of San Lucas, in the department of Madriz. It is in northern Nicaragua, near the Honduras border and it is VERY remote.

The potters of Loma Panda.In Loma Panda, we will work with a women’s ceramic cooperative.  This special group of women is famous for creating whimsical figures and ceramic dolls with movable parts. We will spend most of the week helping them replace the deteriorated roof over their studio. Halfway through the week we will take a break and travel to Canon de Somoto, for a swim and to take in the breathtaking scenery.

All tools will be provided and no special experience is required. The tentative brigade schedule is as follows:

  • Aug 21  Arrival in Managua
  • Aug 22  Travel to Loma Panda
  • Aug 23 – 28 Rebuilding roof in Loma Panda with a mid-week break to the Somoto Canyons
  • Aug 29  Return to Managua
  • Aug 30 Departure day

Download our orientation packet.
Download our registration form.
Contact Robert Pillers (robert@pottersforpeace.org) for further information about brigade activities.

Brigade 2017: Working and Playing

Posted by Patty Osborne

MONDAY: The brigade stopped at La Maysuta and “played in the mud” and then it was on to Santa Rosa where we had enough time to lay out the base of a new kiln before ­stopping for dinner and then retiring to our homestays.

Laying the foundation.

Laying the foundation.

TUESDAY: We built a little kiln designed by Douglas— The “Mani Nahum” — at Santa Rosa. When we ran out of bricks, we visited the brickyard in Mozonte where they throw 60 lb flowerpots on the kickwheel.

Finished!

Finished!

WEDNESDAY: We headed to Loma Panda and after a long steep walk we watched a doll-making demo and ate a delicious lunch.

Making dolls at Loma Panda.

Making dolls at Loma Panda.

THURSDAY: This was our final day in el campo and we had worked hard so we relaxed in Somoto Canyon, a new tourist attraction that features a boat ride, swimming and tubing in the warm, clear canyon pools, and an optional horse ride on the way back. We spent the night at Laguna de Apoyo where we swam in the clear deep lake water and then it was back to Managua and our flights home.

Relaxing in Somoto Canyon.

Relaxing in Somoto Canyon.

 

Brigade 2017: We got ‘er done!

Posted by Patty Osborne

FRIDAY: In spite of being without power for a few hours, we still managed to get the large shed totally welded up and painted, and put chimneys on two of the kilns. If we can get some consistent power, we have a shot at finishing on time.

saturday

SATURDAY: We finished the big kiln shed and completed welding the frame on the small one. Alvaro, Carlos and Douglas (the young ones) put in twelve hours and the rest of us put in ten. When we got back to the hotel we had a special treat—ibuprofen all around.

saturdayall

 

SUNDAY: We got ‘er done! Painted and got the roof on the second kiln shed, put a chimney on the third kiln, and built a little retaining wall to keep the water out. Tired, sore, and happy!

sunday2

—submitted by Robert Pillers

Brigade 2017 report from Ducuale

Posted by Patty Osborne

This week the 2017 Brigade is building a new kiln shed at Ducuale because the previous shed collapsed in the heavy rains. This time the shed is being framed with metal which should last a good long time. On Day 1, the brigade completed most of the framing.

framing-shed

On Day 2 they lost power for most of the day so—no welding! Instead they decorated pots for smoke firing, did demos and played on the kick wheels. They also cut out all the horizontal roof beams—by hand.

In the photo below, a brigadista is painting a slip decoration onto a burnished, once-fired bowl. The bowl will be smoked in a small kiln and the unslipped clay will turn dark brown. When the slip is washed off the bowl after the second firing, the  decoration will show in a contrasting orangey-brown color. This method of decorating is unique to Ducuale.

decorating-pot

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.

The 2016 Brigade: my best brigade so far

Posted by Patty Osborne

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.

One of the cool PfP pins, handmade in San Juan de Oriente.

One of the cool PfP pins, handmade in San Juan de Oriente.

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.

[foogallery id=”1741″]

 

 

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…..

Join our first-ever Fall Work Brigade!

Posted by Patty Osborne

truckPotters for Peace is pleased to announce that, due to many requests from our supporters, we are organizing a shorter, more intensive brigade that we are calling a Work Brigade. Our first Work Brigade, which will be 6 days long, will take place from November 22 to 28, 2015.

Description of the trip

This 6-day Work Brigade will build a kiln shed at El Calero, a pottery community near the town of San Juan de Limay. During our 4 days onsite, participants will be welding, measuring, cutting, digging, lifting and engaging in other construction activities.

Cost of trip

Your fee of $950 covers everything except airfare to Nicaragua and personal purchases while there.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Managua, pickup from airport, brief orientation, dinner and overnight stay in Managua.

Day 2-4: Breakfast, travel 3 1/2 hours by van to El Calero. Each day we will be at El Calero until 4 pm. We will eat dinner and sleep at San Juan de Limay. We will be staying in a community building and sleeping on cots. This is definitely NOT a hotel; the experience will be more like camping out. Transport between El Calero and San Juan de Limay will be by pickup truck.

Day 5: Return to Managua.

Day 6: Airport and home.

Download our information packet.
Download and fill out our registration form.
Contact Abby Silver (abby@pottersforpeace.org) for further information.

Don’t miss this chance to get your hands dirty while you experience life in a tiny Nicarguan pueblo!

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