What I want the most is to sell enough that I will never have to resort to do anything other than sculpture.
– Oguimar Barbosa
˜*˜ This is the story of a Gift Brazil collective member ˜*˜
From: São João del Rei, Minas Gerais
Current location: Santa Cruz de Minas, Minas Gerais
Making: Adobe-based decorative items
At the back of his home in Santa Cruz de Minas, in the state of Minas Gerais, Oguimar Barbosa works on his trademark adobe chicken. Across the humble studio, benches with various versions of the bird can be seen, as well as piles of adobe and modeling equipment and…chicken. About two dozens of them.
“I have tried to get rid of them [the chickens] but they are my pet friends. Working here by myself does not feel right if they are not running around,” he says, carefully placing one of them back on its place in the small pen next to his working room.
Oguimar began sculpting as a teenager with his uncle, sculptor Sebastião Paineiras, in Tiradentes, the neighboring town, some 30 years ago.
“When I saw him working, I understood immediately what I wanted for myself,” he says.
But craft did not always pay the bills. As well as sculpture, Oguimar trained as a plumber, electrician and a carpenter to have a fallback option in case of emergency – which happened in early 2013, when the artisan had to stop his production completely to seek better-paid work.
With the encouragement and help of friends, Oguimar has now resumed work at his studio and has asked for the help of Centro Cape, the Minas Gerais crafts council, to improve his way of managing his business.
“It is very frustrating when you get to a situation where you can be selling more than you can produce. But during this year I am now very focused on running my business better and seeking knowledge. I am already seeing the results from my efforts to marry the demand to my production capacity,” Oguimar says.
Everyday, the artisan produces 4,000 pieces that are sculpted then fired in a clay oven. The items are then painted by three family members – there is a scarcity of skilled manpower to help out.
“We need more people to learn the trade. In fact, if people were to come down here, I would even teach them how to make things – I am really not worried about competition and many studios started with my help anyway,” Oguimar points out.
“If we were to transform Santa Cruz de Minas in a ceramics hub, it would be good for everybody,” he adds.
To create the items he produces, Oguimar seeks inspiration on the nature around him and, of course, his feathery friends. As for plans for the future, he hopes to be able to develop the partnership with his brother, a welder, to create more elaborate pieces mixing other materials such as iron.
“But what I want the most is to sell enough that I will never have to resort to do anything other than sculpture. That is what I know best and also what I love most.”
See all items for sale by Oguimar Barbosa at Gift Brazil here.