Born in Açú (Rio Grande do Norte), Etewaldo Cruz Santiago grew up in Natal (RN). One of his grandmothers was a potter, and the other a lace maker. From an early age he learned how to make toys out of clay. “Back then I would leave them unfired, because we didin’t have a kiln. My mother didn’t like me playing with clay, because she thought it would give me worms.”
Ceará-Mirim was always on his mind. “One evening we were playing outside, because we had no electricity at home, and my father told us to go inside. I got angry, and whispered that when I grew up I would leave home. He overheard and asked where would I go. I said, to Ceará-Mirim. I had heard stories about it, with its sugar plantations and ox carts. I got a good beating. But I grew up, learned many jobs, including photography, and came to Ceará-Mirim on a work assignment. My brother-in-law, who had learned how to make clay dolls in Tracunhaém, saw my wood pieces and said I could make good money in São Paulo, in the República Square Craft Fair. But I really liked clay. I wanted to buy a piece by Master Vitalino to break it up and see how it was made. My brother-in-law taught me and then left. I was born in 1939, and in 1971 went to São Paulo to see the square he talked about. I sold all the clay pieces I took with me. I spent three months there and came back. I’ve been working solely with clay for 36 years. In order not to starve I got a job in a naval base and there they taught me a bit about architectural drawing, because I have a gift for it. That helped me. But now I live only off my clay work. But I’m weak, I had an operation and I’m recovering. That’s all there is to it.”
Etewaldo passed way in 2006.