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Local pottery sale has global affects

Kumbaran pots will be on sale at Silverdale United Methodist Church this weekend.  - Courtesy photo
Kumbaran pots will be on sale at Silverdale United Methodist Church this weekend.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

What appears to be a large pot planted with brightly colored spring flowers, or a vase holding a wildflower bouquet has a lasting impact that is more than just meets the eye.

A 40-foot container filled with nearly 8,000 pieces of Kumbaran-Ellington clay pottery from India was unloaded at various churches throughout Kitsap County last year. Silverdale United Methodist Church is now hosting their second public sale this weekend.

The sale is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, and from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, in the parking lot of Silverdale United Methodist Church on the corner of Ridgetop Boulevard and Silverdale Way. Prices of the pottery pieces range from $3 to $10.

“This is a continuation sale of the containers from last year,” said Steve Lee, Silverdale United Methodist Church congregation member and pottery sales coordinator. “It’s the same variety of pots.”

Jeremy Ellington, Silverdale native, and his wife Joy are the founders of the pottery factory in Sulthan’s Battery, South India, a lifestyle they’ve been enjoying for more than 10 years now. Each piece of pottery is handmade, using a traditional wheel powered by hand. The process to create each piece includes cleaning and kneading the clay, spinning and drying the pots. The pottery is then wood fired at the Sultan’s Battery facility, a process that takes multiple days to complete.

Although the two currently reside in India, Lee said one of the greatest aspects of the pottery sales is the Ellington’s have been able to provide jobs for more than 15 Kumbarans, allowing them to attain a sustainable life. Local artists, single mothers and blind workers represent much of the workforce.

Lee said the caste system of India is what makes the daily lives of workers extremely difficult. The Kumbaran are part of one of the more secluded castes, which includes those who work with mud and clay.

Because these individuals have a difficult time surviving, the Ellingtons worked with small amounts of money to buy fields of clay, collect equipment and build a facility to create pottery jobs for the local Kumbaran people.

“(Jeremy and Joy) are experiencing the challenges of a program that is going great,” Lee added with a smile. “They’ve really kept their faith in place.”

After filling the container full of pottery and sending it to the United States, the Ellingtons had a goal of raising $12,000 to go toward the development of a school, church and larger factory. With the first sale, they were able to raise more than $18,000.

For every piece of pottery that is sold, 100 percent of the profits are reinvested in the business to support its workers, or given directly to the workers.

In an e-mail sent to Lee from the Ellingtons, they described the projects that have resulted from the pottery sales’ proceeds. These projects included the construction of a new room and kitchen at the factory used as a dining hall during work hours and living area for two families. They were able to build a pottery packing room and raise the salaries for their workers.

Lee said one of the biggest projects the pottery sales helped to fund was the creation of a tuition center where 46 children attend Monday-Thursday and learn basic studies, participate in a daily devotional and are provided with food. The school is then utilized on Sundays for Bible classes and church services. The money also helped to fund the salaries of six teachers.

“Their hearts are really into what they’re doing,” Lee added.

With a strong faith in God, the Ellingtons also had a regular church service in their home on Sundays for the locals. As of this year, their worship center has been registered as a church, Lee said, making their mission work a legal entity.

“After meeting (Joy and Jeremy), I just want to shake them to make sure they’re real,” Lee added with a smile. “You just can’t help but love them.”

For more information regarding the pottery sale at SUMC, or on how to donate to the Ellingtons, call Lee at (425) 652-1759.

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