Have you ever done pottery or wanted to visit a pottery barn?
For those in Freetown whether as a resident or visitor you're in luck - we have Lettie Stuart Pottery!
Though, it's not quite in Freetown, it is actually in Waterloo -- about a 40-50 minutes (depending on where you stay in Freetown) but trust me it is worth the drive!
Lettie Stuart Pottery is a partnership between Sierra Leone Adult Education Association (SLADEA) and Aurora Foundation.
In Sierra Leone where many do not always have the opportunity and privilege to be formally educated or in some circumstances dropouts rarely return to formal education due to societal stigma and low self-esteem -- technical and vocational training centers are integral to filling the skilled workers force thereby contributing to national development.
Lettie Stuart Pottery is a training school and once a month it offers a pottery class to the public. Yesterday, I decided to drive down to the pottery barn and get my hands dirty!
Once you arrive you are warmly greeted by the team and asked to sign in after which you are given a tour of the studio. I learned about where the clay was sourced from, the team informed me they predominantly source from the Northern Sierra Leone and they process it at the pottery barn. I had an extensive walk through of the kiln and the different pottery done by past students, it was really very interesting and wonderful to see this happening just about 30km outside of Freetown.
You are then directed to your lumps of clay and pottery wheel, but before you start your instructor shows you what to do. My instructor was very patient and kind while correcting me during the process and helping me mold my cup, plate and bowl. I would estimate about 90 minutes (1.5 hours) for your class.
Customer service and class instruction definitely receives ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 stars) from me.
As a Social Entrepreneur and Founder, what attracted me most to this place (apart from the educational and social impact aspect) is that all the work is handmade and done by local artisans.
This may be up for debate, but with technological advancements and living in a globalized world - indigenous practices tend to diminish with time and I love that there is a space dedicated for local artisans in a world that everything has become mass produced.
On my quest to visit more of Sierra Leone, I do endeavor to attend a Batik (Tie-dying) class and learn to make other crafty things like a shukubly (woven basket)!
I'm officially a pottery mom! After your class your creation is available in 3 weeks as it dries and goes into the kiln. I think I'll take the plate when it is ready.
The cost of the pottery class is Le 150,000 ($13). I would give this a ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 stars) rating given that sourcing and processing is very labor intensive not to mention the work put in after you have finished - plus it goes to a good cause.
For location, I would honestly give it ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 stars). Sometimes you just want to get away from the city and the pottery barn gives you that opportunity - you can also kill two birds with one stone and take advantage of the proximity to the out of city beaches and go to Bureh, Tokeh or your place of choice. I actually wanted to go to Bureh Beach but I had errands to run in the city so I went back, but if you end up going to the pottery barn go to the beach right after!
I look forward to receiving my plate in a few weeks! You can check my update on my Instagram page @minabilkis .
Looking for something to do in Freetown (or Freetown adjacent) or want me to review something? Let me know! Feel free to DM or email me email@example.com
ergo sum cogito