pottery is absolutely, beautiful and today, very popular.
Certain Spanish colonists known as the Gallegos and
Bracamonte settled in Nicaraguan sometime in the late 1500s.
The village was called San Juan el Batista, which
years later, was renamed to San Juan de los Platos because
of the successful pottery industry.
In fact, the Spaniards were paid in the form of
when Nicaragua became independent from Spain in 1821, the
village was again renamed, this time to San Juan de Oriente.
the making of pottery was considered work only to be
performed by women, as well as other domestic chores to
include cleaning, cooking, and caring for the children.
In fact, the women living in San Juan made the pieces
of pottery all by hand, just as their ancestors had done,
using a free form design and coil method.
The firing of the pottery was down outside in a
campfire where the pieces would be fired quickly in an open
flame, usually from one to three hours.
Today, you will still find some woman in San Juan
still using this same method.
addition, oxen pulled carts are still seen, each pulling
clay in burlap sacks coming from the farms as they head into
the city. The
clay is taken to the workshop where artisans empty the clay
from the bags into a hole, filled with water to help soften
it. The next
day, the clay is soft enough to be worked, at which time
sand is added. Then,
the clay is put on top of a sack at which time it is stamped
to help soften it further while also blending in the sand
and working out any unwanted air bubbles.
This process generally takes about three hours, which
is per mix.
the clay has been softened and blended, it is massages by
hand, clearing out roots and rocks.
One person will dedicate up to 16 hours, again for
one mix. At
this point, the clay is stomped on by foot and then ready to
be formed. The
artisan then takes a ball of the clay and using a kick wheel
will begin to shape it into many different shapes.
Then, it is cut from the wheel using a piece of
nylon. The clay
is set aside and the pieces all turned upside down, allowing
the indentation to form for the base.
For this process, it takes anywhere from 5 to 25
minutes, depending on the size of the ball and the skill
level of the artisan.
all the pieces of clay have been shaped, the surface is
this process, any smaller roots or stones can be seen or
felt, allowing the potter to remove them and continue with
the polishing. When
this is done, the clay is smooth and the surface ready for
color. For just
the polishing portion of the procession, it takes the
artisan between 10 and 30 minutes per piece.
once all the pieces of clay are smooth, black liquid clay is
painted on. This
special clay known as “black clay” or “cogove” comes
from El Sonce. When
diluted with water and then strained over several days, what
remains is the black clay.
In fact, some natives will use black clay as face
for making Nicaraguan pottery, several layers are applied. Once all the pieces of clay are painted, they are placed into
a plastic bag and allowed to dry up to seven days. After completely drying, the clay again undergoes the
polishing phase with a flat-type instrument.
next phase involves applying a layer of Oxido de Zinc, which
is bone white oxide. The tone creates a nice base on which additional color can be
painted onto the pottery.
Again, the wet pieces are placed in a plastic bag
where they dry for 2 to 10 hours.
After drying, the Nicaraguan pottery pieces again go
through the polishing process.
Now, beautiful designs are traced, drawn, or painted
onto the pieces using a pencil.
Typically, repetition patterns are drawn onto a piece
of paper at which time they are transferred through tracing
but at different angles.
On the other hand, curricular lines are painted using
the decoration and painting of the Nicaraguan pottery, using
the colored oxides, the designed are painted on with
paintbrushes made from recycled plastic shell belonging to a
ballpoint pin and the hair of children who had haircuts.
This process takes anywhere from one to four hours,
which depends on the level of detail.
Once all the color is painted on, the pottery pieces
are smoothed out and polished.
Again, they are dried (not in plastic), which takes
up to six days.
next step of creating Nicaraguan pottery is to outline the
designs with a sharp instrument.
This particular technique must be done very carefully
so just the top layers of the clay are removed, allowing the
rough surface of the style to remain.
The tool uses is generally from broken bicycle spokes
or a broken umbrella and then sharpened to a find point.
is the next step that has changed somewhat over the years.
Originally, kilns were shared and precious but today,
you find many of the Nicaraguan artisans with their own.
Each kiln is made from clay bricks, along with other
necessary materials needed for making a burning oven.
Some of the potters who are just starting out in the
pottery business will experiment with the process but in
most cases, the firing would start with two hours of heat.
there, the heat is gradually increased over a three-hour
the heat is turned up high, burning the clay pieces for
about four hours. Finally,
once the kiln has cooled (usually the next day), the pottery
is removed and with a soft cloth, shined.
To bring out the shine to its fullest, natural shoe
polish is used. The
result is amazing piece of art that is a one-of-a-kind and