|Entryway to Uruiarte Talavera in Puebla|
Authentic Talavera pottery only comes from the city of Puebla and the nearby communities of Atlixco, Cholula, and Tecali because of the quality of the natural clay found there and the tradition of production which goes back to the 16th century. This is one of the reasons we wanted to stop in Puebla and learn more about Talavera pottery. We have been to other areas where the pottery is called Talavera, but if it's not from Puebla it's not real Talavera. We chose to visit Uriarte Talavera, a traditional Talavera enterprise in Puebla that has been in existence since 1824. It was begun as a family workshop by Dimas Uriarte, but today it is run by a business group.
The following photo shows the basic process. First, black and white clay are mixed and shaped. The piece is then fired, and when it cools a glaze is applied. The glaze dries and a stencil is applied so that the piece may be painted. After painting, the piece is fired again and is finished.
After the clay is mixed the potter shapes the pieces. We were told that Uriarte has 5 potters. Really interesting to watch how quickly the potter worked and how adept he was with the wheel.
After the first firing a glaze is applied to the pieces. The wet pieces are yellow and turn white when they're dry and ready for the stencils.
Charcoal is used to apply the stencils to the pieces. It was explained to us that the stencil tells the painters which colors to paint and where to paint them.
As a comparison, I took a photo showing Talavera from Puebla, the real thing, and pottery from Dolores Hidalgo in the state of Guanajuato which the people there call talavera. Talavera manufacturers like Uriarte have been under pressure from imitations, commonly from China and similar ceramics from other parts of Mexico, especially Guanajuato. Guanajuato state petitioned the federal government for the right to share the Talavera demonimation with Puebla, but, since 1997, this has been denied and glazed ceramics from other parts of Mexico are called Maiolica or Mayolica.
|Dolores Hidalgo on the left, real Talavera from Uriarte on the right, pretty easy to tell the difference. Also reflected in the cost, of course.|
While we really enjoyed touring Uriarte, I found the city of Puebla to be overwhelming. Too much traffic, big crowds, and the pollution had my eyes watering pretty much the whole time we were there. We walked to the Zocalo, or main plaza, and had a pretty mediocre lunch. After that we walked around the square. There was a lot of activity going on for the holidays including this angel on stilts who was happy to pose
The main church on the plaza, as well as many of the other buildings in Puebla, shows the effects of pollution in the city. Tough to keep them cleaned, I'm sure.
Many of the building facades in the city are tiled and some of them are very nice.