I have been in Barbados now since the third of July. Since that time I have not had much of a chance to roam around the countryside and identify clay sources. The initial plan in the collection of my data was dependent on the discovery of the clay sources used by present day potters in the Chalky Mount area of Barbados. After a discussion with Professor Smith, we decided that it would prove to be difficult to find the actual sources on the island. The difficulty mainly arises in the time commitment that would be required each day to gather information on the location of the sources through interviews of potters, as well as the further time needed to locate and collect clay from the sources. After some thought, it was decided that an alternative approach would prove to be more fruitful. Instead of finding the clay sources myself, I now plan to collect samples from the potters themselves. These samples would derive from either: raw clay from the source collected by the potters; or the collection of “waster” pots from the potters. During the manufacture of pottery many ceramics are destroyed due to various variables such as: imperfections (e.g. air pockets) in the structure of the ceramic leading to a failure of the structural integrity of the pot; human error when handling the pottery leading to a breaking of the ceramic; and over-heating of the ceramic due to the placement of the ceramic within the kiln leading to excess heating of the ceramic and the subsequent cracking of the ceramic.
Despite the lack of, I have still learned a lot about the culture of the island. I have gone on several outings in the countryside with Professor Smith and other William & Mary students. These outings have ranged from dinners at restaurants serving predominantly Bajan cuisine, as well exploring scenic vistas. Below is a picture taken from Cherry Tree Hill near St. Nicholas Abby.
In the background is the East Coast of Barbados. The small hill/mountain in the background to the left of the picture is Chalky Mount (where most of the pottery industry took place in Barbados). In the foreground, a sugar cane field can be seen. Sugar cane can take anywhere from 12-16 months to fully mature before it can be harvested and processed.
I have also learned much about the rum and sugar industry that dominated most of Barbados’ colonial industry. St. Nicholas Abby (one of three Jacobean style mansions still standing in the Western Hemisphere) is a fully functioning sugar plantation and rum distillery on Barbados. Professor Smith lead a tour of both the factory and the plantation house. Below are some pictures from both.