Walter Melendres is a potter who does great work, especially for this time of year. He is proud of having sold his products in countries around the world. His life was not easy, but with ingenuity, work and team spirit he has created an artisan workshop that proudly offers high quality products.
Always eager to teach his skill, he himself has taught many young apprentices who later work for him. He has given work to many young people who grew up in a situation similar to his, welcoming them to his care and leading them to a decent life that many could not otherwise achieve.
Walter’s childhood was marked by a tragedy when, without warning, life left the eight brothers and sisters without parents. Since he was the eldest, he immediately decided to work at whatever he could get paid for: baker, porter, bricklayer, all of which demanded long hours of work for little pay.
In spite of this childhood tragedy, Walter always remembers the things that belonged to his family with affection when he says, “my parents’ belongings were made of clay, including the dishes, the oven, the roof tiles, the pots…” He also remembers that his first toy was made of clay: “the first thing I made of clay was a little llama to play with when I was a boy.”
His grandparents worked with clay and made pottery. They were the ones who welcomed him back to their community in the province of Ingavi, La Paz, when Walter decided to return with his siblings, tired of the poor pay and abuses he received in the city.
With effort and, above all, creativity, he left behind the memories of bread with tea to lunch on a plate of food. Work began to yield its fruit, and the eight Melendres learned that one can achieve his desires only with dedication. Today, each of them has his own pottery shop and they freely help each other out when one or another gets a large order.
The work of Walter and his wife, Clara, is known in Germany, Italy, Mexico, the US and many other countries. Currently 35 employees work at Cerámicas Walter Inkat Pacha, each with different assignments, but all with the same goal of providing articles of indisputable quality.
“Clay has supported us and continues to do so; thanks to the Pachamama (Mother Earth) we have survived.” This is how Walter understands clay, his best companion, his ally and his fountain of life.
Take a look at his work and judge each piece, as well as this story among many others.