||Near Salvador, (BA) the small town of Maragogipinho has an unique characteristic: around 80% of its inhabitants are professional ceramists. The Association of Mutual Help for Clay Workers of Maragogipinho brings together the 60 clay workshops in town – modest constructions covered with coconut leaves – which struggle to get help from the government or private companies. 60% of the workshops have a manual wheel and it’s on one of those that Elisio Nazaré Almeida, known as Mr. Nené, has been working for the last 58 years. He learned with his grandparents and uncles, who used to make a kind of urn for keeping water, known as ‘talhinha’. “We get the clay from a farm nearby. It’s taken from the earth, and can be red, yellow or white. It’s sad because young people nowadays don’t want to learn this profession but I wonder what they are going to do for a living.”
The clay workshops in Maragogipinho are full of pieces – “we make what the market demands. We need to sell”, explains one of the workers. Few take risks with old-fashioned pieces, such as round water bottles or more adventurous pieces. The patterns of pots, bottles and other objects are based on the flowers and decorations learned from the Portuguese many years ago.