We made it to the village to finish firing! I learned so much in a very short amount of time. Shanna and I were fortunate to be observers of Mama Anna in her element. Below are just a few captured moments of the process.
It's a little dificult to see in this image, but the pots are being placed into a shallow pit lined with coffee branches.
Mama Anna receives the leaves that she then piles high atop the nested pots
The smoke was thick and, at moments, completely blocked the view of the nearby banana trees. It curled up and out of the leaf mound like physics-defying cream. We watched as it thinned, and the burned branches began to collapse into the pit, revealing our finished pots. I was surprised to find that only an hour and a half of burning had taken place when Mama Anna began to fish each piece out to cool.
I was a little surprised that this firing took a mere 2 hours in total. I'm so used to thinking of firings as taking most of a day, and then some to cool. When Mama Anna pulled these pots out of the coasl and brought them straight to the cool ground and air, admittedly I was a little nervous, but it turns out that it's not really a problem. She explained to us that a lot of the time she fires pots in the morning and pulls them out to sell at the market in the afternoon.
I'm looking forward to returning these pieces to their makers. Before we left the classroom on the day of the firing, the students sounded very doubtful about the chances of their pots coming back whole. Sweet relief!
Special thanks goes out to Shanna who did a lot of translating and transporting to make this firing a success.