Artisan Impact: Ceramics from San Juan De Oriente, Nicaragua

Don Leopoldo Potosme and Sara (Ceramicists)

San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua

For the majority of the artisans in the ceramic community of San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua, house and workshop are integrated as one. Half-worked ceramic pieces can be seen set upon living room tables alongside their grandchildren's latest homework assignment. The home of Leopoldo and Sara is no different, and with nine family members sharing the space, they literally eat, sleep and breathe pottery. The Potosme family has four children, two of whom, with their spouses, help to produce the orders for Women of the Cloud Forest. They are masters of a very detailed geometric work that can be seen on our geometric line of luminaries. Each piece is gridded out on the vessel and then the surface is meticulously scratched using a sharpened bicycle spoke, a technique called "scrafitto." This family workshop is one of our main partners that we use as a "test" studio for new products. Their commitment to transparency of material costs allows us to easily conduct a cost analysis to determine if a new product has the margins to enter a wholesale market.

This year, we received the wonderful news that Leopoldo and Sara's youngest son scored the highest in his county on the entrance exam for the university medical school! Needless to say, the family was very proud. We were so very happy for them as well, and gifted Manuel with a new laptop computer that he could use for his studies. We love helping to support the education of our artisan families and future generations. As Leopoldo told me when I visited this past March, "We are ceramicists and my children all know how to work the clay. But with education, they can dream of even more opportunity that we had. They will always know our art and where they came from, but with education, they can dream even bigger."


This beautiful ceramic luminary is handcrafted in a family workshop in the community of San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua. The intricate geometric designs are etched by hand using a sharpened bicycle spoke. Each luminary is created out of local clay, turned on a kick wheel, hand-painted, and wood-fired in a beehive-shaped kiln.