Craft Centre Pottery
I started pottery at 19 years old when I was in Francistown at the Lekgabe Centre. It was under a government scheme, Bedu. This school trained me for two years with Mr Okull from Uganda and Mr Palm from Uganda. They were good teachers and I learned to prepare clay, throw the wheel, how to make moulds, use colours and bake pottery in the oven. This was in 1983.
At this time, they called me ‘the professor’ because they liked how I worked with the clay. I prepared it well because I treated it like bread. I wedged and kneaded it until it went soft. People liked to work with the clay I prepared.
At the school we also went out around Francistown to look and see where you could get clay from the land. They taught us what to look for. You must take water with you and test to see if it sticks to your figures. If it does then it is good. You then have to sieve it and then dry it. The whole process of preparing the clay can take a couple of days even when you have found some. The great thing about pottery is working with the wet clay though. It changes so much as it dries and hardens into what we are making.
I have always loved making flower pots and vases because I like plants. During my training I also did many mugs and plates. After my training I worked for a pottery studio in Motsetsi village and for Mr Bano, who was very good at pottery sales. 6 of us worked for him.
Then I sent an application to Mandy Sandenberg who was preparing to open a pottery studio in the Power Station, in Maun. A new vibrant centre for crafts and events. I started working for her and this was a great time and busy time. We did summer fairs and exhibitions, there were big parties and lots of people who saw and bought our work.
I have always loved making flower pots and vases because I like plants.
In 2006, Maipelo came to work with me. She was doing paperwork with elephant dung and papyrus. Soon she stared painting the ceramics nicely with her artwork and learning the ceramic trade. She made designs like the snake pattern that goes on traditional mud hut housing – it is is also sometimes like a ‘V’. We use African animals and sketches like bushman paintings on our ceramics too.
Together we make many things for the hospitality industry here: butter dishes, jugs, sugar pots, plates and many things for coffee. We sold 24 ceramic basins to Amy Fletcher Design, a local interior design studio in Maun, to go into a lodge. We made ceramic basin designs with the hippos and elephants which went into Xakanaxa Camp (Desert and Delta Safaris) in Moremi. We work with the colour schemes of the lodges and can do many styles.
The most difficult things to make are bigger items. The challenge is to not let the pottery crack in the kiln - we must be very careful. The colours are always interesting – I especially like to work with bright colours like purple. We have Earthware colours and Stoneware colour paints. You can see the difference in our showroom – Earthware you must do at a high temperature and it is a bit softer. Stoneware is better for the kiln. It also gives a matte look.
I want to say to people that the Craft Centre at the Power Station is here and you can come to buy ‘made in Botswana’ beautiful ceramic products!
The colours are always interesting – I especially like to work with bright colours like purple.