Sunday, January 17, 2010

Finally on the Road, Mata Ortiz

After a few delays we crossed the border in Palomas, Mexico without incident. We had a very smooth trip from there to Nuevo Casas Grandes, our first stop. We were able to boondock at Pistoleros which is a restaurant/rodeo grounds/old hacienda. Very safe there and all the owners asked was that we have a meal or two at their restaurant which was easy to do and the food was good. We made a day trip down to Mata Ortiz which is famous for its pottery. Juan Quezada of Mata Ortiz is very well known for his art and has involved the village in producing some very unique pottery. Here is a link to Juan Quezada

The pottery in Juan's gallery was beyond our price range, but we were able to buy a variety of pieces from the local potters at very reasonable prices. The poverty in the village is heartbreaking and it was difficult not to buy something from everyone we saw. From the moment we entered the village we had people showing us their pots and inviting us into their homes. They were very proud to demonstrate their skills and have us take some pictures.  Double click on the pics to enlarge.

We were shown how the clay is molded, without a potters wheel, and then shaped into a pot. Following that the pot is painted and then fired. In this instance, an old washing machine tub was placed over the pot and the fire was built around it. They use wood for the initial heat and then add cowchips to make the fire last longer.

The variety of styles and quality of the work were amazing. All of the bad publicity about Mexico is keeping the tourists away and really impacting the people in Mata Ortiz. Truly a shame as these are some very talented artisans. We tried to buy pieces that were representative of the many styles we saw.

The roads so far have been good for the most part. I took a few shots along the way. We passed through a vast area of what seem to be Joshua trees - very cool.

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