Valentin Lopez


Valentin is 43 years of age.  He has a family of ten and everyone in the family

is involved in making pottery.  He employs five other workers and has won

four awards for his work.  He has been making pottery for 31 years and learned

his craft from his parents and grandparents.  He prefers pre-Colombian and

traditional designs for his work. 


For the past 12 years he has also been teaching at a pottery school that he

runs next to his home.  The class consists of four different courses on the

basics of pottery making.  Each course takes about one month to complete,

making a total of four months to go through the entire series of courses.


It costs $2,000 cordobas ($100 US) for all four courses. He accepts both

men and women as students, but they need to be at least 16 years old to attend. 

The first course focuses on the kick wheel and forming the vase.  Then come additional courses on painting, scoring, and finally design.  Four teachers are involved with the school.


Most students come from San Juan, but some have come from other countries in Central America, plus the United States and Spain. Since the school opened he estimates that they train on average about 120 students per year.  Some students go on to purchase their own equipment, but most use what is available at other places where they work.  Valentin has also made the school’s equipment available for former students to use for free.


He started his school when he realized that many of the children in San Juan de Oriente had an interest in learning how to make pottery, but lacked the tools and opportunities for formal training.  He started by purchasing several kick wheels that he kept in the corner of his workshop and eventually got funding to construct a small building.  Several of his former students are now artists in their own right and a few have even gotten their own awards.  Others are now teachers in his pottery school.  We have initiated a scholarship program to support students who have an interest in going through the entire series of courses, but lack the financial resources to afford these classes.

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