Traditional potters mould a fortune from clay and sand
Posted Monday, June 25 2012 at 19:16
- At Oriang Women Pottery Group in Kendu Bay, Homa Bay County, 23 women make a living through the messy but viable enterprise of pottery.
Even though the products have not gained markets internationally, she says that they have been able to sell them locally and at times they make sales worth Sh15,000 day if the market is good.
The soil is excavated about a 10km away from their pottery site where the women knead the clay using their hands.
This she says is done to eliminate air bubbles and to make it more pliable and easier to work with.
‘‘Little sand is also sieved and mixed with wet clay to make the mixture finer,’’ she says as demonstrates the process.
When the kneading is finished, a handful of the mixture is rolled into a long rope called a coil.
Mrs Nyasi says that while moulding the bottom of the pot, she needs to start from one end wrapping the coil in a spiral until she gets to the neck of the pot.
The clay pots are decorated using a brush that is dipped in aloe known as okaka in the local Dholuo language.
When the pots are ready, they are allowed to completely dry before they undergo a process called firing which takes about two hours.
This is done to make the pots durable. The vessels are then cooled and a boiled juice that is extracted from the bark of a thorn plant is sprinkled on them to give a shiny dark colour.
The modified clay pot exhibits a flat base for stability and a narrow neck to prevent access which reduces the chances of contamination.
‘‘We make at least 30 in pots in a day since each member is expected to mould three pots in a day’’, says Nyaseme who is a member of the group.
The biggest pots retails at Sh1,500 while the smallest one retails at Sh250 which they sell locally.
‘‘Pottery products are often on high demand so in a day we can sell as many as 30 which is a total of Sh15,000,’’ quips the secretary of the group.
The only challenge they face is the breakage and spillage of pots which occur during the firing and when they are being transported to the markets.