Potters of Pueblos Blancos

A short, hilly taxi (or bus) ride away from the colonial and beautiful Granada, or the bustling Masaya, is a cluster of small, white houses, fittingly called Los Pueblos Blancos. A large indigenous population lives and works in this town, specializing in ceramics and pottery.

I took a day trip up to this quiet, little town and ended up in the workshop of the family of Valentino Lopez. His son, now the instructor to the young boys of the town, showed off his skills in a striking demonstration of how artistic and challenging this job is.

The first step is to knead the clay from the volcanic soil until it is the desirable texture

Spinning a wheel with his foot and fluidly using both his hands, he transforms this piece of clay into a perfectly symmetrical pot

This is their work station; all the products are a result of their natural, volcanic surroundings

For example, all their paints are made from rocks collected within Nicaragua. Water and rock powder magically produce bright colours with no added chemicals

All the carvings are done with a sharp piece of metal that was pulled out of a broken bicycle. I give it a try and my artistic ability does not even compare to their work

To add gloss to the pots, they use another stone. There are three layers of glossing until the ceramic finish is smooth and up to their expectations

After baking in a furnace at 900 F, this is what a final product would look like

They were nice enough to let me try. I soon discovered this is harder than it looks.

But in the end, my pot wasn't too bad! Or was it?

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