Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Talavera and Mayolica Pottery

Dolores Hidalgo is a town near San Miguel de Allende known for its brightly colored Talavera pottery. While Talavera pottery from the city of Puebla is hand-shaped and technically the only authentic Talavera, the pottery made in DH is also called Talavera. We are not wealthy so while we love to look at Puebla Talavera the pieces from Dolores Hidalgo are beautiful too – and much more affordable. All of the DH Talavera we saw was made and painted by hand. In the U.S. Puebla Talavera sells for hundreds of dollars. Even the Talavera from places like Dolores Hidalgo can be costly north of the border.
On the outskirts of DH we saw what appeared to be a large pottery factory and decided to stop to see if they would let us watch the pottery being made. We walked around the retail showroom area and worked our way toward the back. Outside of the factory were a variety of molds - these are from the large frogs. This Talavera is made from molds and then smoothed and shaped by hand. No one seemed interested in talking to us so we just kept roaming around. We went out to the factory and went inside. No one seemed to mind.   

There were many women hand painting pots and various other pottery pieces. It appeared that much of the painting was free-hand with the painters copying previous pieces but using differing color variations. The pottery is fired twice and is painted after the first firing. The paint is quite muted when applied but becomes brilliant after the second firing.
We saw where the pottery was stacked onto shelves and then slid along wheels into the kilns to be fired. Very efficient. This type of kiln with the shelves on wheels appeared to be the method of choice in this area.

Following our self-guided tour we ventured further into town and found ourselves on a street with pottery places on either side for perhaps a half mile. We decided to walk and look. We were able to see some people working and others invited us to come to their homes and watch the pottery being made. We bought a few pieces which were amazingly inexpensive. For example, we paid 20 pesos ($1.60) for beautiful hand painted coffee cups which we saw on the internet for $18-$20.  Lots of stuff to look at. Some good and some not so good.  An authentic Talavera bowl in the U.S  can run  about $50 - $60 and we were seeing them for less than $10. We tried to buy a variety of pieces and I'm still thinking about going back for more.
We also went to a town between DH and Guanajuato called Santa Rosa which is known for its Mayolica pottery. The pots are hand made on a wheel and then fired twice but are different in their coloring and style. The pitcher to the right in the above array and the pots directly above are Mayolica and have a different appearance than the Talavera. They have much more elaborate paintings. 
Additonal info and pictures regarding Talavera can be found on these websites if interested….

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