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Jacobo Potosme

Artisan Organization: Jacobo Potosme

Country: Central America

"I'm from San Juan de Oriente in Nicaragua where I was born on February 26, 1989. I still remember when I was 13, during my first year of junior high, my father passed away and my mother was alone. One of my brothers had lost his eyesight to cancer. My mother had to meet household expenses and pay for schooling for her five children, so my two older brothers and I helped my mom with her ceramic work to earn together enough for our family's needs.

"We'd clean the pieces and apply the underglaze to cups, plates, and all the distinct designs she made. This is how I became interested in ceramics. What I've always liked best is that it all begins with a bit of earth and yet, when finished, the pieces are beautiful. I realized that, in a sense, we are creating something from nothing.

"I learned my art from my mother, Francisca Guadalupe Nororis, and my uncle, Felipe Potosme. They taught me all I know and I am now teaching the two women who work with me. Mercedes, Amelia and my wife help craft the designs crafted in our little workshop and they take orders from shoppers who visit us.

"I make the designs and they sand and refine the pieces, apply the underglaze, decorate and create the textures. Next, each piece returns to my hands so I can make sure they comply with our quality standards.

"At first, when I was just starting out, I had to work hard to improve the quality of my works. I had an idea of how I wanted them to turn out, but the finished pieces didn't look like what I'd had in mind and this frustrated me a lot.

"I began working in other people's workshops and sold my ceramics very cheaply so I could buy the tools and materials I needed. I didn't have much experience, so my friends or uncles would give me a hand with designs, and with marking the pieces so I could paint them and finish them.

"One day, I decided to take up my original challenge and create my own style with some clay pots my mother had given me. I began drawing my own motifs and was eventually able to perfect them. This has led me to where I am today.

"I've had a number of difficult times in life. When I was 15, I had problems with alcohol — I was an alcoholic. It caused me many problems. But at 18, I entered AA program and they helped me stop drinking. Another time was when I began to work in other workshops because I didn't have any tools of my own. People close to me helped me craft my first ceramic pieces so I could buy the tools for my own workshop.

"I'm a friendly and sociable person and I like to work. Above all, I'm honest and I want to get ahead in life. My greatest regret is not being able to finish college, because that would have opened the door to a better life for my wife and our family.

"I believe my inspiration comes mainly from God who gave me a mind, eyes and hands, who let me be born and live in this beautiful town in Nicaragua. I'm also grateful to my mother because, as an artisan, she gave me the art that flows through my veins.""