Zoe Felix, a master in ceramic arts and a practicing artist, traveled from Europe to the rural village of Sevenagala, Moneragala District to assist Koulragama Industrial Cooperative. Ms. Felix worked with members and employees of Koularagama Co-op during April and May to teach them product design and production techniques. She worked hand-in-hand with staff of the Co-op to help them understand choices of style and methods of work to better enable them to produce products that focus on European and American tastes. In addition, she delivered technical trainings focused on clay throwing techniques, selection of clay, and use of the kiln, product presentation, and workplace safety. Throughout the trainings, English language training was thoughtfully interspersed preparing staff to interact with customers in English.
BIZ+ facilitated the month-long volunteer engagement at the Co-op’s production facility and the Co-op hosted her. Ms. Felix also joined the Co-op members on a study tour to Midaya Ceramics, a renowned Sri Lankan ceramic producer and exporter that BIZ+ organized. She then helped the Koularagama team members translate the new learnings into their practices. The assignment resulted in a number of learning outcomes and inspirations including:
- Giving Koularagama the necessary information on product development to produce new product designs in a style and context suitable for the European/American market.
- Giving the staff a new language to use, both the art technical language and the formal spoken language.
- Applying techniques to increase productivity, reduce waste, and cut costs.
- Addressing environmental issues such as handling materials, recycling, proper disposal to prevent pollution, and avoiding operational and worker health risks.