August 21st, 2016

The last week has been a productive one, everything seems to finally be coming together. On Thursday I spent the morning packing barro negro at the Collectivo ready to ship to California and then in the afternoon made the trip to San Bartolo to visit Oscar’s studio in hopes of picking up my work.

I travelled out with a few friends I made from the class and Oscar met us in the town and weaved us through the backstreets to his home, a quaint shed with no running water on the outskirts of town. There we met his children and he showed us how he made his craft. Barro Negro is largely made via casts, which is partly why my own hand built vessel was so difficult to form. It seems like a much denser clay than other clay I’ve been building with and without years of experience it was quite the task to maneuver it. He showed us his kilns and fire pit as well as his moulds and some of his more experimental hand built works. He told us that out of every 7 pots fired about 5 would survive and that he could fit about 120 smaller pieces into a firing. I used a smooth stone to shine up my pieces first wiped with a little bit of baby oil, it makes them somewhat metallic and you can see how it will translate through a smokey firing. Unfortunately my larger textured piece had cracked across the bottom as I had applied the clay too thick, so it was sacrificed to the ceramic gods haha. In the firing process old and broken pieces are stacked around those being fired to help fill gaps and let less air in. My work along with others was due to be fired over the weekend. After visiting his home we went back into the township and checked out the work of local artisans at the town market. So many beautiful pots, figurines and ornaments and with most pieces being under New Zealand $30 it was a struggle not to buy everything.

Also this week I have made a few more pots with my Maestro in Atzompa and will be returning next week to continue and hopefully get to some firing and glazing. It’s looking like I will stay longer than the month now as to achieve the work I hope to I will need more time. Yesterday I met and Irish and Australian couple that run a hotel and shared creative space in Oaxaca and they have invited me to visit with them on Monday as I may be able to volunteer with them in lou of accommodation which is a great development. They are also having a party next weekend which will be a great way to meet some new and creative people.

Yesterday I visited Monte Alban which was a calming and spiritual experience and I feel has somewhat grounded me as at times I have been in a bit of a flap and uncertain of what I’m doing entirely. It’s nice to feel things are working out, to have met some people and have positive projects on the go. I’ve also enrolled in Spanish classes and I start tomorrow morning. As many of you know I can be quite the talker so not being able to communicate with people here has been hard, not being able to share a joke with a taxi driver or talk about the weather haha. So I’m glad to be remedying this and look forward to my Spanish improving immeasurably.

I hope this finds you all well and until my next round of developments hasta la vista!

Packing barro negro at Collectivo 1050

Packing barro negro at Collectivo 1050 Barro Negro kiln attached to fire pit Broken ceramics used to pack the kiln Moulds My first piece of barro negro all shined up ready to fireSome of the locals ceramics Some local ceramics Barro Negro figurines More examples of barro negroMural on the wall of the place I had lunch Working in the studio in Atzompa Some more pieces I made this week Ceramics in Atzompa Local ceramics Atzompa


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