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Goodbye Brazil, Hello Slovenia — and ceramics!

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Cecília Araújo in Slovenia. Picture courtesy: Cecília Araújo

With every country that Cecilia travels to, she strives to create a “routine”. A combination of going to the must-see attractions, but at the same time, connecting to the real life that gives an identity to a place. “Travelling is the most important thing in my life. I’m hungry to know more about different places, people and their way of life,” Cecilia shares. After working as a media planner for over twenty years, she decided to take a sabbatical from corporate life. “I wanted to experience things that I’ve never done before,” she explained her rationale. 

Those things are learning textile design, ice cream making and wine-tasting in Italy, taking cooking lessons in France, learning Raku (a technique of firing ceramics) in Croatia — and ceramic making with Katja Spiler in Slovenia.

Cecilia felt like she had struck a chord when she read an article about VAWAA. “This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that every person who works for big industries are crazy about!” Cecilia exclaimed. “Vacation with Katja was perfect for me.” So she said: Goodbye Brazil, Hello Slovenia — and ceramics!

Let’s start with the countries you’ve travelled to — what was the motivation?

Since I had time on my hands, I decided to visit countries that I’ve never been to before. I chose to learn creative skills as part of this “soul-searching” time in my life. It’s been something that I’ve left aside for the longest time but it was always calling me.

And what creative skill did you learn from Katja Spiler?

I can make my own souvenirs now! I learnt different ceramic techniques and I found myself in another rhythm. More relaxed, less worried about perfection and less judgmental about the things I do. It wasn’t just about ceramics!

Cecilia in Katja Spiler’s ceramic studio. Picture courtesy: Cecília Araújo

What was it like seeing Katja in action?

It was incredible to see Katja at work. She had absolute control on the clay — so delicate and creative!

Katja Spiler in her studio. Picture courtesy: Cecília Araújo

What ceramic items did you make?

I made a flowerpot, three little bowls and a vase.

Being with Katja for a week almost, how similar or different were you both?

First of all, she’s great company — it was like hanging out with an old friend! She’s such a generous person and she has what it takes to be a teacher. Also, we had so much in common. Mostly regarding our values and principles. But, her way of life is very different from mine.

Katja and Cecilia exploring the Slovenian countryside. Picture courtesy: Cecília Araújo

How so?

I’m from Sao Paolo — there are more than 12 million people in my city. Katja, however, lives in a small town where she’s constantly in contact with nature and her life is less hurried.

You’ve had a glimpse of Katja’s life — could you share with us what you did day to day?

We would start at her studio around 9AM, have a break for lunch — sometimes at Katja’s home, sometimes outside. Almost every day we came back to her studio after visiting touristic places together or dropping and picking up Katja’s son at sports training. We also went into the woods to walk and there was a day where I cycled around the neighbourhood by myself.

You also went to a concert with her in Croatia?

So, Katja received an invite from a good friend of hers to go to a music festival in Zagreb. She told him that she had a guest at that time and probably would not be able to attend it. BUT, besides the fact that I’m a Rock ’N’ Roll sort of girl, this was EXACTLY the kind of thing that I was looking for: doing things that the locals would do! I told her that I’d love to attend the event.

That must have been a great experience! What did you think of Slovenia?

I used to define the country as “a huge forest with small villages in the middle”. Krize is so small that I met Slovenian people who didn’t know where the village was! It’s An idyllic place! Slovenia was a pleasant surprise — I’m very grateful to have been there. It’s so beautiful and interesting that I decided to stay longer than I had planned.

Krize, Slovenia. Picture courtesy: Cecília Araújo

Were there any challenges that you encountered?

The only challenge was to speak and listen to a non-native language, English. For example, there were some terms that I was not sure of… that sort of thing! But, it wasn’t a real problem.

Lastly — what will you keep to heart?

I’ll remember the three different techniques I learnt forever as well as the most important — “It’s handmade. There will be imperfections”.

Written By Ann Ravinther
Vacation With Katja Spiler


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