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today's exhibition

updated mon 18 feb 02


Ron Collins on sun 17 feb 02

In typical Guatemalan style, we planned today's exhibition when a =
procession was coming from Santa Catarina, near the volcano, to block =
the street. No one could arrive by car or leave by car. In spite of =
that fact, enough gringo friends/students walked the 2 or so miles to =
buy enough that we consider our exhibition a total success....enough =
money was raised for Venancio and Luis to both have the money to build =
each of them a kiln, get the blower/burner fabricated, and buy a propane =
tank, and a bag or two of ball clay to add to the red earthenware that =
you dig yourself around here. That alone puts them far above their =
competition for the same products. They will be set up to fire to full =
cone 06--or higher, later, after they get the hang of their kilns. We =
still do not have shelves. If there is any money left, I will try and =
order some for them, and cones, or figure something else out. They =
only want half barrel kilns, so we will do the workshop with them and =
get them built in a week or two. 13" shelves just fit the 55 gal. =
barrel diameter. They just seem scared of anything we will =
do it as they want it done. =20
There were several exporters that I invited that were very interested in =
the product with stronger clay where the tails won't always break off, =
or the mermaid's tail fall off....this was a success--------Many thanks =
to Partners of the Americas for sponsoring Lowell Baker to come teach =
basic cast kiln/burner has done worlds of good. Come =
back any we still are just beginners, in kiln building, =
ourselves and can use anyone's expertise. Majolica painters, who can =
make their own pigments, certainly would be welcome......
You just cannot realize how poor both of these men are. Good men. =
Hard workers. Venancio's place-I can't call it a house-has dirt floors, =
bamboo sticks for walls, they live in 2 rooms,Luis has 5 children, =
Venancio, 3, and some tin in places to keep dry. He works hard, but =
the amount of money they make from so fragile a product, barely puts =
food in their mouths, much less more. This exibition really amazed =
them, at the money that people paid for high fired, innovative, work, =
and I think they both "caught on". They are talented. The project is =
keeping the money, to buy the stuff, because there is always more need =
than money in a family with children, and there is always need. We =
realized that they both did not invite their wives, because they didn't =
want them to start wanting the money from the sale. Things work =
themselves out down here, and they will sink or swim, ultimately, on =
their own. As I said before, all we needed was $300 plus dollars to set =
them both up in business, and we did that. We priced things that should =
have sold for much more, at below reasonable prices, so that they would =
sell, and get the money we needed. It would have been so much easier to =
have written a check, and got it overwith weeks ago, but that would not =
have accomplished the goal in the right way, and they wouldn't have seen =
a successful sale of innovative claywork. The "reduction saggar luster" =
work was very well received, and much excitement about that. That went =
over very well.
Tomorrow, Luis and Venancio are teaching "basic little animal =
making" to the project people, and my two Californian teachers, Alan and =
Keith will be joining in. Martin Rice flies in tomorrow from Costa Rica =
to learn wheel throwing, so we will have a fun week.........Melinda =
Collins, Antigua, Guatemala