When we discovered that one of our exploratory divers is a highly qualified ceramic engineer, our vision for our pottery project fell into place.
Tom Dailey is a name that you may be familiar with, having spotted it in the credits for some of our photography. Not only is he a professional photographer and serious diver, but he is passionate about pottery.
Our initial idea behind establishing a pottery workshop, to create an income opportunity for locals, involved buying the clay, and sending our interns for training in a professional pottery studio in Pretoria.
With Tom’s involvement, the whole approach to the project changed.
Wherever he travels, Tom is always looking for sources of clay in the natural surroundings, and he can spot possible clay deposits in the least likely places. For the project to be sustainable, we will source and extract the clay deposits locally, in Machangulo Private Reserve. The raw material will be transported from all the clay deposits to a central area in the reserve, where it will be processed, treated and turned into usable clay.
With this strategy, we will be able to create a lot more job opportunities, and develop skills on many different levels.
Early man was making objects from clay at least 50,000 years ago. The basic process is simple and remains virtually unchanged from ancient times. Contemporary society, as we know it, would not be possible without this process as it supports every convenience we’ve grown accustomed to.
Our next step will be to find people with a natural artistic flair to create everything, from crockery, to display pieces, to the specialist bricks used to build the kiln that the products will be fired in. We will be able to manufacture far more effective ovens for the famous pao the locals bake, which will, in turn, use less fuel and lessen the pressure on the natural wood resource that is required.
Glazing is made from seashells, which opens up another income revenue for locals. While our turtle monitors are patrolling the long stretches of beach and carrying out beach cleanups, they can gather broken shells for the glazes, and also separate any glass from the other debris collected, which can be recycled and used in the pottery. We will offer a bonus for this extra assignment.
Once the production line is in place, with the logistics behind the source, supply and manufacturing all running smoothly, we will look at getting the products to market. As well as using online channels, we will aim to sell the products locally in Maputo, and South Africa, then eventually in the USA and Europe.
The ultimate goal of this project is to train the local community in every aspect of of the ceramic process. From identifying and mining local materials, to processing and creating functional works of art. The potential for this project extends beyond creating work for hands-on skilled trade. The initiative will become a platform, from which, we can teach people from the local community a whole range of industry skills, including supply chain management, sales and marketing.
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