After speaking with the women about the pieces they were creating, we went out to the kiln area to see how the work is fired. It is a big room, like a barn, with large open ovens. Some of the pieces are put about two meters above the fire, on a wire rack, while other pieces are wrapped in a type of leaf and put directly into the fire. They were not doing this part of the process today. To get different colors they add another layer of soil based diluted solution directly to the fired pot and fire it again. Sometimes it is painted, sometimes designs are sketched into the clay itself. To shine it up they use an oil and then put it in the sun to bake in.
|Throwing pots on hand spun wheels|
|Adding orange/brown glaze to the fired coffee pots, these also come in black.|
|One of the three main buildings, finished and partially finished pieces.|
|Weaver in the cooperative. I bought this fabric called nutella.|
|Weavers in Axum|
|detail of beautifully woven designs|
|Axum weaver - see the barefeet technique, and he is messing with the little boat device.|
Whenever I travel I am very attracted to the handiwork and traditional crafts made in a country. I tend to find that there is a certain level of organization, like in cooperatives such as the ones I visited today, but sadly, the people that do the work make the least amount of money from the work, but put in the most amount of time. It is good to see that these things are continually made and used in Ethiopia. It is also good to see that people have come together of their own accord, and with the support of the government, have been able to create a standard market for themselves, at least as wholesalers. I do not think it is super common for tourists to seek out these places, especially the women's cooperative which was deeper into the neighborhood of Kechene - so much so that Afework, a native to Addis Ababa, was uncomfortable going in and almost turned us around. But, I think the value of going to see where these items are made and meeting the people that make them is more valuable than consuming the end results, marked up considerably, in the tourist shops that line the main road. I am thankful that my friend had the time to take me there.
|The Kechene neighborhood.|
|Butchers near to where we ate lunch.|