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Monday, February 16, 2015

Product Spotlight: Wonki Ware

In December, our collection of Wonki Ware pottery arrived with plates and bowls in colorful shades from aubergine to Irish green. We love this line of tableware for many different reasons, but most importantly for their fair trade production process and the individuality of each handmade piece.

South African artist Di Marshall creates Wonki Ware pottery in a small town called George and currently employs 40 people of disadvantaged backgrounds, but it didn’t start out that way.

In 1999, Marshall was living on a farm far outside of town and longed to be closer to her children when they went into the city for school each day. She opened up a small studio and slowly began to attract the attention of the local community. Before long her space was a place for potters and creative types to meet.

Not long after, a man named Artwel started coming by each morning looking for work. Not having much money to pay him, Marshall taught him about clay and developed patterns that were relatively easy and simple to reproduce but at the same captured a sensitivity in pattern and design.

Adding a third person to their team, Wonki Ware spread throughout the country and beyond.  Today the company is one of the biggest success stories in South Africa.

Wonki Ware’s process is completely done by hand – from clay mixing, rolling, shaping, sun drying, firing, decorating, waxing, to glazing. The pottery only touches a machine once it is ready for firing. In fact, it is said over 18 sets of hands will touch each piece before it is finished, making each piece special and unique. Each piece is durable, high-quality and also microwave/dishwasher safe.

1. Sun drying is just one of the many steps to making a piece of Wonki Ware pottery. 
2. Two women shape various pieces before they are sun dried and fired. These women are given fair wages and live nearby the studio.
3. No two pieces are exactly alike and neither is the process for each product in the collection.

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