Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ceramics in Minutes by Mikala Skelton

            In Catarina in Nicaragua, we visited the workspace of two brothers who create beautiful ceramic pieces all by hand. I took ceramic classes in high school and have ever since loved the craft, but in my experience everything was modern. We had electric everything, kiln, wheels, and even machines to press out clay flat for us. Thus, it was really interesting for me to see the less modern version of the craft. The studio was small and the only equipment that it had really was a manual wheel, which I had never even seen or heard of before so when I was told that’s what it would be I expected them to be spinning it with their hands or something similar. I was not prepared for the effective contraption that I saw when I arrived. The artist was able to maneuver the wheel with ease, which I’m sure comes from years of practice.  They also had tools that they made from scratch, whereas the tools I used in high school were bought in bulk from some ceramic store somewhere.
            Next, we saw how the brothers would put the designs on their pieces. Within seconds, one brother had designed a beautiful flour and toucan on one of the mugs that were already glazed. He made it look so easy! Again, I’m sure from many years of practice. But, it’s something that I would have had to think about for a while before making a design, being afraid to make a mistake or design something I didn’t like.

            After that, they brought us to their mother’s house where not only was a giant pig, that was practically waist high, but also a stone kiln that was run by a wood fire underneath. It was a really fascinating introduction to a different side of ceramics that I hadn’t seen before and now I am interested in trying a manual wheel because of it, even though I’m sure it won’t be as easy as the artists made it look.

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