Bruno is the new pottery manager and he is doing an amazing job so far. He catches on extremely quickly with any design modifications, and then patiently explains and practices them with the older women in the group. He has been very helpful and involved. I think the women also enjoy having him around. Sometimes they even complain they are too old/sick/tired and make him do the work for them! Today this let him set a good example with new techniques, but tomorrow they all have to roll their own clay!
The pot filters are really moving forward this week. We have been making large pots, which will sit into a plastic 20L bucket. This week’s goal is to get the women to produce pots which all have the same height, diameter and wall thickness. We have been getting closer to that goal with the introduction of small plastic buckets as moulds. Unlike the PVC tubes we were using before, the bucket has a lining which clearly marks the filter pot height. We have also had the women form the pot rim with the bucket mould still in place to help the pots keep their form. So this week’s pots are much more standardized than last week’s.
We had an interesting salary discussion with the potters on Friday. They were unhappy with the current payment setup and wanted to discuss it. At first it seemed they wanted more money. However, after further discussion it became clear that it was more important to them that we give them the payments more frequently (at least every two weeks, ideally once per week), than that we increase the price per pot. We found this wish a bit odd, but were happy to comply. So the prices are staying the same for the moment. While they are currently earning very little (TZS 500 ($0.33) for small pots, TZS 1000 ($0.66) for large ones), we are planning to keep the price per pot low to keep the filters very affordable. We are hoping that with the new technique they will be able to make more pots every day, thus increasing their wages while keeping the product cheap.
George has also been a big help with the filter pot project. His background as a professional potter means he has lots of helpful insights. Other times he just comes to sculpt and keep us company.
Pictures at the studio: