Trying our Hand | Gatagara Pottery Cooperative

Hard to believe it’s already been a year since my parents and aunt visited us in Rwanda for three whirlwind weeks touring Rwanda. A lot has happened in the last year…finishing up our two years in Rwanda, having a baby, and moving to Cote d’Ivoire and with all of this I never finished my run down of their visit and details of the places we went and things we experienced. So in a new year effort to get back on track, I will do so now…


Shortly after arriving in Rwanda, I had a great day spent driving out to Gatagara Pottery Co-op, learning about their process, and shopping through their beautiful products. Read about that visit hereKnowing my aunt’s love for pottery and ceramics from hearing stories of her past travels and knowing both my parents would enjoy the visit as well, I knew this was a must-stop on their tour of Rwanda in January/February last year.

Gatagara Pottery 5_JPP

Two gentlemen of the co-op escorted us around their compound from the kiln to the clay pits to the pottery wheel, explaining each step, technique, the timelines, and using a mound of clay to quickly and almost effortlessly mold a vase or coffee cup and then inviting us to try for ourselves.

Gatagara - Demonstration 3_JPP

As we tried our hand, we quickly realized it’s not as easy as it looks. Our appreciation for their craft and the beautiful products the members of this co-op create every day grew even more. It takes a lot of concentration, practice, patience, and coordination. Pumping the wheel while applying just the right amount of pressure to mold the curves of the bowl and not putting your finger straight through it. Chris was off to a good start, looking like a pro until he added too much pressure and had to start again. I was not as skilled and needed much more handholding.

Gatagara Pottery - JSP 2_JPP

The shop filled with vases of differing sizes, teapots, bowls, mugs, and plates are just a small sample of what this co-op creates and supplies throughout the country. The colors from brown to green to blue dyed using natural and artificial sources are so hard to pick from. Our cabinets and shelves are now adorned with their products. All nice pieces as momentos from our visit and the talent present in Rwanda.

Gatagara Pottery - CFP 3_JPP

Gatagara Pottery - CFP 4_JPP

Living in or visiting Rwanda and want to plan your own visit to learn about this co-op, their pottery, and their craft? Our trip was easy to arrange, even on a holiday, through VAYANDO. They completed our visit with a translator to help us understand all the intricacies of the pottery making process. VAYANDO – Pottery with Gatagara Coop.

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