The story of Ana Felicia, a Master Maker of traditionally, handmade Colombian ceramic cookware (Ollas de Barro).
A few months ago, while searching for small, skilled makers in Barichara, Colombia, we inquired at a trades school (escuela-taller) about where we could find a handmade, traditional hot-chocolate ceramic pot. Little did we know what a profound and humbling experience we had just embarked on. We were tipped off about Ana Felicia.
So my friend, Carol, and I were game. We arranged to meet a young, Guane native who does regular runs in his “moto-taxi” to Ana Felicia’s humble, farm-home. So we were off to her rural Maker’s Den.
Upon arriving, we were greeted with tight, lasting hugs from a beautiful 83 year-old, petit but strong woman, with a bright smile, a warm heart and the dry, cracked, character-filled hands of a hardworking woman. She was not frail as one might expect for a typical 83-year-old. She moved with rapid ease, strength and passion. No limps, a good pace, and the joy of life fulfilled.
She expressed always being happy to receive visitors that are interested in her tradition and work. After several shared smiles and warm greetings, she got up to show us her inventory and workplace. It was a 4-walled space with literally no frills. There were no shelves, no tools, no spin-wheel, no tables, just inventory, carefully placed on the ground and a squatting tool next to a short table where she worked her magic, one piece at a time.
We asked many questions. She told us that her parents and grandparents had pioneered a thriving ceramic pot-making business that once had employed about 300 townspeople right on the grounds where we were standing. She said they fulfilled the cookware needs of a large rural region that had very limited infrastructure to bring cookware from the larger cities. Her father and uncles were literal traveling salesmen. She is the last of a long standing tradition and business of handmade, ceramic cookware.
They made Ollas de Barro for caldo, a typical Colombian breakfast soup, larger ones for stews and lunch soups, small-necked ones to brew hot chocolate and coffee, and all-sized Tejos (a skillet-style pan) to cook Arepas, the Colombian “tortilla”.
Reluctantly, we managed to pry our entranced minds from Ana Felicia’s awe inspiring stories and there they were, the hot-chocolate pots. Beautiful, rustic, natural, just what we were looking for. But we got much more than the pot, we experienced time with the amazing woman who made our pots. Not many can still say that or even consider this experience to be possible. Needless to say, we will cherish and use those pots with the same love Ana Felicia made them.
This is exactly what we’d like to give people through our work; the real value of handmade goods and the experience with the maker. Perhaps, it won’t be rustic, ceramic cookware, but it will be about connecting hard working, passionate makers with mindful buyers who truly understand the maker’s contribution to ease and enrich our lives with the products they lovingly make.
Perhaps together we will be able to convey this meaning to our future generations, conserve maker traditions, and revive others so our children can learn to value the work behind their products. Hopefully, they will become more and more paced in their purchases, such that they look for true quality and hold out for products that work well, serve good and lasting function, and positively and sustainably impact the living and working conditions of hard workers throughout the world.
If it were easier to travel with delicate ceramics like Ana Felicia’s, Carol and I would have purchased all her stock and given it to people who would value and enjoy it. Ana Felicia would have loved us buying a lot more. She is, after all a business woman who loves what she does. Business basics really haven't changed much. It is evident that we all want to make a good living from our hard work. It truly is human to sell and trade. We all stand to gain from mindful, sustainable exchange. Join us and support our makers through conscious, Paced-E-Commerce.
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The Maker World aims to promote sustainable livelihoods and preserving maker trades, slow fashion style. To that end, a minimum of 10% of our sales revenue goes to incentivizing new talent, providing tools, education, training, support, and apprenticing for individual makers or maker communities. This year you've contributed to the fulfillment of a dream and entrepreneurial incubation of clothing designer, natural talent, and single mother Leidy Johanna Meneses from Barichara, Colombia. We've mentored, advised, and provided entrepreneurial and financial support for her to fulfill her first clothing collection launch.
She's now selling this collection in her hometown and is available to design custom styles by contacting her on Facebook page, @WonderfulladyDesigns. She's now equipped with ability and know-how on how to build her own custom-design business. Your support has made this possible and together we thank you for contributing to sustainable livelihoods, and skills development and preservation.
The UN reports that "470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labour market between 2016 and 2030."
When one considers the daunting numbers needed to sustain a future generation working, we can feel dejected, but we can't give up; we need to unite.
It really takes a village to meet these global needs for our future generations; a real challenge that needs to be faced through Human Solidarity and action from retailers, customers, and makers. The Maker World, has chosen to step up to the plate as a conscious business that pays fair market value, contributes back to makers and their communities, and gives customers excellent quality goods and an opportunity to contribute to this effort, through better purchases.
In commemoration of International Mountain Day we honor Ana Felicia, Cooking Ceramics Maker...
When I met Ana Felicia in 2016, her beautiful #Maker demeanor shone through like a breath of fresh air. She was ready to show us her stock of pots, pans, skillets, and plates. The 85 year old Alfarera works squatting on a stool, on top of a wooden surface and solely by hand without a pottery wheel. Just manipulation of clay, water, patience, love, and skills. She's the last of a generation of #ceramicsmakers that kept her region's mountain families cooking in one of the most natural and ancient ways: #handmadepottery