Ducuale Grande Women’s Pottery Cooperative

The small town of Ducuale Grande, situated in the northern part of Esteli in the beautiful country of Nicaragua, has a long history in ceramics.

The hills nearby are rich in clay, which was a big contributing factor to this town becoming a centre for pottery centuries ago. This ancient art continues to thrive through the efforts of the hard-working women who are members of the Ducuale Grande Women’s Pottery Cooperative formed in 1990. The cooperative’s workshop is a large open building with seemingly every surface covered in the rich colors of the clay. Visitors to the workshop can observe the production process from the softening and blending of mud and clay, to the molding of the piece, rubbing it with a smooth river stone to give it a glaze-like finish and baking it in the oven. There is a display area of items for sale, where visitors can buy something for ornamental purposes or for everyday use, such as plates, cups and vases.

Some of the women at the Ducuale Grande Women’s Pottery Cooperative learned the art of working in clay from their mothers, who learned from their mothers, ensuring that the skill of pottery making continues through the generations. Others have attended pottery-training workshops. Throwing items such as plates, mugs and cups on a pottery wheel is an art that not everyone masters. Those who do perfect this art can rightly be proud of their skill, which contributes greatly to the success of this project. The women potters collect the clay from the nearby hills and mix it with water, river sand and a local pigment, in the same way as their ancestors did. Their bee-hived shaped kilns for firing the pottery are built from clay bricks they made themselves.

The simple yet elegant ceramic work produced by the women of Ducuale Grande has been favorably received world-wide, being featured in international magazines and newspapers. They have participated in international fairs and visitors from all over the world are drawn to their workshop. They are also recognized as being one of the most well organized potter cooperatives in Nicaragua and are called on for assistance and advice on organization and marketing.

These motivated, hard-working women of the Ducuale Grande Women’s Pottery Cooperation in Nicaragua have found a way to support their families by doing something they love – keeping the ancient art of ceramics alive.