River clay pot or Ukhamba (used in Zulu rituals and celebrations), is traditional in design and detail. The deep rich earth color, detailed etch or bobble design and smooth finish define the pot. Ukhamba add a decorative, organic element to any space. Due to the River clay pot being handmade, weather conditions and open firing determine the potters capacity. Use as a decor piece or functional vase or storage.
Process | Clay is dug out of the river bank before being left to dry. Dried clay is pulverised on a grinding stone then sieved to remove impurities. Powdered clay is reconstituted with water to create a smooth, firm medium that stands for 24 hours before use. The pot is formed by building up coils of clay and smoothing them down with the back of a spoon or smooth stone. Amasump or dimples may be applied to the pot at this stage before being left to dry. More intricate designs are applied using natural tools such as corn cobs, sticks and stones. When dry, the pot is placed on an open fire and covered with bark and leaves to ensure the pot is fired at a very high temperature. The fired pot are then polished. Traditionally polished with animal fat, today shoe or floor polish is preferred due to the color and high gloss finish.