Process of making the Talavera pottery

The creation of this beautiful and colorful material originating in Puebla requires the careful and skillful hands of many artisans.

Casa Uriarte by Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

In the old calle de Mesón de Sosa Nº 13, in the year of 1824, the story of Uriarte Talavera begins, when Don Dimas Uriarte buys a workshop of white earthenware known then under the name of La Guadalupana. 

Almost two centuries have passed and the tradition of making authentic Talavera de Puebla, as it was then called to distinguish it from the earthenware from Spain, still continues. Neither time nor technology has affected Uriarte Talavera's concern with preserving the delicate and laborious process of making this beautiful and valuable Mexican tradition, declared by UNESCO in 2019 Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

Each piece is unique and cannot be imitated

The characteristics of the materials and the environment make it impossible for two pieces to be the same. The process is extremely careful and passes through the hands of many artisans. The piece is also subject to the vagaries of the environment: humidity, temperature, as well as the conditions of the clays and minerals used in enamels and paints, to reach the endpoint and obtain as a result a product full of history and experience.

Torno de barro by René RodriguezUriarte Talavera

The shapes of the pieces are obtained through two fundamental processes: the lathe and the molds. Using the technique of pastillage and with the clay with the consistency of a flexible masa dough, the pieces are shaped.

After the first baking, the pieces are orange, like cooked clay: this state is known as jahuete (cooked sponge) or sancocho (fried stew). To detail the surface of the cooked clay, artisans sand them until they lose roughness and imperfections and by sound they gage variations in thickness, cracks or bubbles, which would compromise their resistance to the second baking.

Lienzo pintado en azul cobalto by Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

The Talavera pottery with blue on white decoration is most likely considered the most traditional, even though other colors have been used historically.  This fact has much to do with the most typical decoration since its origins, since the reason for its production was to imitate Chinese porcelain.

Cobalt oxide is used as a pigment in the Puebla Talavera pottery and tougher handling of the materials is given by simplifying the tracing.

Piezas a punto de entrar al horno by Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

Enamel is a mixture of silica sand, tin and lead, with viscosity and vanilla color. In this mineral solution that must be constantly moved, the pieces are immersed, not without first having soaked with water with a brush, the parts where the enamel tends to accumulate. In this way the enamel layer is uniform and of a thickness that does not exceed a fraction of an inch.

As they dry at room temperature, the yellow turns matte white. All parts must be checked for proper enamel application and to eliminate minimal surface imperfections.

Horno antiguo by Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

The team strives to outline and paint the graphic motifs of the pieces, knowing that the natural pigments will react with the enamel during the fusion of the second oven and will acquire their final color and shine.

The pieces come out of the oven at 1150 ° and for a long time they crackle, "they sing", as they gradually cool down. Each will be carefully reviewed to ensure its quality: those requiring paint retouching will go through the corrections laboratory, the others will go to their final destination, many of them will be discarded and destroyed.

Pinceles elaborados a mano by Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

The pieces are decorated with mule hair brushes and colors made from natural minerals. This means the Talavera pottery can be exposed to the outdoors without losing intensity of color and brightness.

Talavera: Patrimonio Cultural Intangible de la Humanidad by Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

Casa Uriarte has the designation of origin (DO4-1), being the first certified Talavera pottery producer in the world. This certification was obtained because in 1992, Uriarte led a group of six workshops that decided to seek protection of Talavera pottery in a similar way as seventeenth century ordinances, to counteract the accelerated emergence of a large number of imitations.

Exposición de piezas en tiendas de Puebla y Polanco by Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

We currently have two locations, one in Mexico City and the other in Puebla City, the latter being the original where the workshop and the historic Uriarte family home is located, with its beautiful facade and its courtyard decorated with murals of enormous historical value. Uriarte Talavera has been characterized by bringing products of the highest quality and beauty to the market, which has earned him several recognitions for their history and tradition.

Familias Uriarte Talavera by Uriarte TalaveraUriarte Talavera

Today more than 100 families benefit from the craftsmanship of this prestigious guild of artisans, who have kept intact one of the richest and most valuable artisan traditions of our country.

Credits: Story

Photographs by Uriarte Talavera.
Photograph of clay lathe by René Rodríguez

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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