||Sitting by the kitchen door, Mrs. Maria Amélia da Silva doesn’t need a lot of space to model her clay figurines. She finds it difficult to stand up “because her bones ache”, but she enjoys telling stories and showing off her dolls and saints.
“My father, Master Dudi, worked in a brickworks in Tracunhaém. That’s where I was born in 1926, and where I was raised. In the past, there was a lot of work, even the plumbing was made of clay, and it was great. My father also made pots, and he knew everything about clay. When I was a child of 7 or 8 years old, I used to play and make little animals. Dad asked me to make more so he could take them to the fair in Recife. I used to think he threw them away and gave me a few coins anyway. I thought he did that to keep me from playing on the streets. So I used to watch lizards, dogs and other animals, and make them in clay. In the evening I liked playing with dolls. During the day I used to help my mother. The other kids started saying that during the night the dolls would pull faces and I got scared, but I carried on making animals. I even made figureheads for boats. We sell them to visitors. Around here we are very poor. My husband was a night watchman, and I raised our son and stepsons. They are all very good. I worked at the craft art centre where there is clay and a kiln but I can’t carry things anymore so I make everything at home, saints and dolls, as I see them.” With round faces, like hers, they have a tender, maternal expression.