Pottery and ceramics at La Arena
A view of the soil used for pottery.
Tools used by the potter to model the pieces.
A potter wets and shapes the piece of soil into a ball.
This is how a ball finally looks like.
Here is the potter's wheel. Notice the big wheel below and the circular plate on top of which the ball is modeled.
This is a close-up of a piece being modeled.
Here we see a batch of pieces being dried.
This is one of the ovens where the vessels are cooked.
These are finished planting pots, ready for sale.
There a huge variety of items that could be created with these techniques. Here we see a cooking pot.
Also, decorative items are part of the catalog of the potters of La Arena.
Finally, one of the most sought after items by hotels and restaurants are the tableware sets.
Pottery is one of the skills that eventually led to civilization in human history. It is common to most human groups and, in this age of plastics, remains a valuable knowledge and activity.
Panama has its share of talented potters. However, the most valued works of pottery come from a small town just outside of the city of Chitre, in the province of Herrera. This town is La Arena.
Recently, we visited a local pottery shop, Ceramica Calderon. Its owner showed us part of the process for making such beautiful pieces of art.
The first requisite for creating good pottery is good soil. It must be screened so it becomes free of foreign objects. Then water is added and a ball is formed. This ball must be of the right size for the pottery piece being created.
The ball is then modeled by using the potter hands and a device called potter's wheel. This device consists of a circular plate wher de mud ball is placed. The plate is connected to a wheel. When the potter turns the wheel, it makes the plate turns and the potter can shape the pieces with his hands.
After the piece has been modeled, it is put to dry and usually is cooked at an oven. The result is a piece of pottery that could be a dish, an ornamental piece, a cooking pot or a plant pot.
If you are wondering when ceramics becomes part of the process, then we will tell you that the making of a ceramics piece is more complex and involves cooking the piece more than once in the oven. The final result is quite different from normal pottery and is basically more similar to porcelain.
We recommend the town of La Arena for your purchases of Panamanian pottery and ceramics. These pieces are valued by locals, tourists, restaurants and hotels.