Authentic Talavera Pottery

MH458aAuthentic 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.  Much of this pottery was decorated only in blue, but colors such as yellow, black, green, orange and mauve have also been used.  Maiolica pottery was brought to Mexico by the Spanish in the first century of the colonial period.

Production of this ceramic became highly developed in Puebla because of the availability of fine clays and the demand for tiles from the newly established churches and monasteries in the area. The industry had grown sufficiently that by the mid-17th century, standards and guilds had been established which further improved the quality, leading Puebla into what is called the “golden age” of Talavera pottery (from 1650 to 1750).  Formally, the tradition that developed there is called Talavera Poblana to distinguish it from the similarly named Talavera pottery of Spain. It is a mixture of Italian, Spanish and indigenous ceramic techniques.

The tradition has struggled since the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century, when the number of workshops were reduced to less than eight in the state of Puebla. Later efforts by artists and collectors revived the craft somewhat in the early 20th century and there are now significant collections of Talavera pottery in Puebla, Mexico City and New York City. Further efforts to preserve and promote the craft have occurred in the late 20th century, with the introduction of new, decorative designs and the passage of theDenominación de Origen de la Talavera law to protect authentic, Talavera pieces made with the original, 16th-century methods.

The Tradition of Talavera Pottery

Handpainted Talavera PotteryIn the 2000s, seventeen workshops were producing Talavera in the old tradition. Eight were in the process of becoming certified.  These workshops employed about 250 workers and exported their wares to the United States, Canada, South America and Europe.

Although the Spaniards introduced this type of pottery, ironically the term Talavera is used much more in Mexico than in Talavera de la Reina, Spain, its namesake.  In 1997, the Denominación de Origin de la Talavera was established to regulate what pieces could be officially called Talavera. Requisites included the city of production, the clay that was used, and the manufacturing methods. These pieces now carry holograms.  One of the reasons the federal law was passed was that the remaining Talavera workshops had maintained the high quality and crafting process from the early colonial period, and the goal was to protect the tradition.

However, the tradition still struggles. Angelica Moreno, owner of Talavera de la Reina, is concerned that the tradition of the craft is waning, despite her workshop’s efforts. One problem the craft faces is the lack of young people who are interested in learning it. An artisan earns about 700 to 800 pesos a week, which is not enough to meet expenses.

Emily Johnston de Forrest discovered Talavera

MH458aIn the early 20th century, interest developed in collecting the work. In 1904, an American by the name of Emily Johnston de Forrest discovered Talavera on a trip to Mexico. She became interested in collecting the works, so she consulted scholars, local collectors and dealers. Eventually, her collection became the base of what is currently exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her enthusiasm was passed onto Edwin Atlee Barber, the curator of the Pennsylvania Museum of Art. He, too, spent time in Mexico and introduced Talavera into the Pennsylvania museum’s collection. He studied the major stylistic periods and how to distinguish the best examples, publishing a guide in 1908 which is still considered authoritative.

During this time period, important museum collections were being assembled in Mexico as well. One of the earliest and most important was the collection of Francisco Perez Salazer in Mexico City. A bit later, in the 1920s, Franz Mayer, a German-born stockbroker, started his collection. In Puebla, he was considered a bit crazy for buying all of the “old stuff” from the locals. In 1986, the Franz Mayer Museum opened in Mexico City with the largest collection of Talavera Poblana in the world – 726 pieces from the 17th through the 19th century, and some 20th-century pieces by Enrique Luis Ventosa. In Puebla, José Luis Bello y González and his son José Mariano Bello y Acedo sought the advice of Ventosa in starting their collection. They amassed the largest and most important collection in the city which now is housed in the José Luis Bello y González Museum (Bello Museum).

More recently, the Museo de la Talavera (Talavera Museum) has been established in the city of Puebla, with an initial collection of 400 pieces. The museum is dedicated to recounting the origins, history, expansions and variations in the craft. Pieces include some of the simplest and most complex, as well as those representing different eras.

Colonial Mexican Pottery

Talavera from Puebla MexicoThe production of glazed earthenware pottery was one of the earliest and most developed industries of New Spain, as colonial Mexico was called. The principal center of production, Puebla de Los Angeles, located south of Mexico City, was making wares by 1573. By the mid-seventeenth century, the Spanish had established a number of workshops in Puebla, and a potters’ guild was formed to control quality.

The pottery from Puebla was called Talavera de Puebla because the wares were intended to rival the Spanish pottery from Talavera de la Reina, a city near Toledo, Spain. Although the Mexican Indians had a thriving pottery industry at the time the Spanish arrived, the Europeans produced wares using their own techniques of wheel-thrown ceramics and tin glazing. The pottery from Puebla belongs to the majolica type, having an earthenware body that is covered with a white lead glaze that is then painted with colored glazes. Established in Europe by Islamic craftsmen in Spain, this technique is the same for Italian majolica, French faience, and Dutch delftware.Colonial Mexican ceramics are distinguished from the Spanish by the original ways in which Mexican potters absorbed artistic traditions from the East and West. European ceramics were imported to Mexico beginning in the late sixteenth century, and Chinese wares were plentiful since Mexico was on the Spanish trade route with China.

The impact of Chinese blue-and-white ceramics can be seen in the number of pieces from Puebla with a cobalt blue glaze. And the forms of the drug jar and vases were inspired by Chinese vessels. Other influences came from the Spanish colonial experience. Two tiles depict Native American warriors with feathered skirt and cape. An interesting substitution can be seen on the vase with iron hardware, where a stylized Mexican quetzal appears instead of a Chinese phoenix. The tiles with religious subjects remind us that tiles were made by the thousands to decorate Mexican churches, monasteries, and graveyards.The freedom Mexican artists exercised is seen best, perhaps, in the large vase that juxtaposes a European woman in a chariot with a host of animated Chinese figures. The humans and animals are filled with dots, an Islamic tradition for indicating living figures. This surprising, vibrant creation unites several worlds of art in one object.

Philadelphia Museum of Art – Summer 1992

Tile Border Designs of Talavera

Authentic Talavera TilesBordering on Style – Tile Border Designs of Talavera - Nothing delivers the design impact of authentic handmade and hand-painted Talavera tile. The vivid colors, the warmth, beauty and affordable cost of original Talavera tile feed the creative soul of design.  So we can say that there is no better complement to these unique colorful designs than border tile.

With many hand painted choices available you can find the perfect combination for your project.  Mix and match colors, there are truly no rules.   Each explosion of color that surrounds each tile, happily flows and combines perfectly with one another.

Infuse the spirit of the Southwest into your home with these beautifully handcrafted Talavera tiles!

An eye-catching accent in kitchens and baths, decorative ceramic tiles are also perfect for covering the risers on a staircase or the walls of a patio. Left-over tiles make excellent coasters and trivets. Hand made in Mexico

It is reported that a specific event that was part of the renewed interest was a chance discovery of an old box of Talavera tile by a person who was inspired by this discovery to start their own tile importing company.

Much of this pottery was decorated only in blue, but colors such as yellow, black, green and orange 

became popular and have also been used.  Production of this ceramic became highly developed in Puebla because of the availability of fine clays and the demand for tiles from the newly established churches  in the area.

The industry had grown sufficiently that by the mid-17th century, standards and guilds had been established which further improved the quality, leading Puebla into what is called the “golden age” of Talavera pottery (from 1650 to 1750). Formally, the tradition that developed there is called Talavera Poblana to distinguish it from the similarly named Talavera pottery of Spain. It is a mixture of Italian, Spanish and indigenous ceramic techniques.    Which make these border and tile designs ideal for Spanish, Italian and Mediterranean design styles.


Talavera from Mexico

Handpainted Talavera PotteryTalavera was introduced to Mexico by Spanish guild artisans of the Colonial period. Known as “majolica” in Spain, Mexican Talavera draws its name from the 16th century Spanish pottery center, Talavera de la Reina, where imagination and persistence led to enormous strides in the world’s knowledge of fine ceramics. Thus, while the intricate polychrome and more typical blue and white designs portray their old world legacy, the indigenous floral and celestial motifs featured on these pages claim the ceramics as classically Mexican.

Most of the Talavera pottery offered by La Fuente Imports, including all plates, platters, and place settings, is made by hand in Puebla, Mexico, and is 100% lead-free as well as microwave, oven, and dishwasher safe. The detail is outstanding, and due to the kiln’s high firing temperature all our Talavera dishware is also crack and chip resistant. Other items, including our Talavera sinks, canisters, planters, and fruit bowls, come from the historic city of Dolores Hidalgo. Every design is painted by hand, and all plates and platters are made with an eyelet on the back for hanging on walls. So whether for home decoration or for day-to-day use in the dining room, our extensive selection of authentic Talavera pottery is sure to make a wonderful addition to your home décor.

Museo de la Talavera

Talavera Ginger Jar Handmade in Puebla MexicoThe Museo de la Talavera (Talavera Museum) has been established in the city of Puebla, with an initial collection of 400 pieces. The museum is dedicated to recounting the origins, history, expansions and variations in the craft. Pieces include some of the simplest and most complex, as well as those representing different eras.

Several temporary and traveling exhibits of certain themes have been created from these permanent collections. One of these was called “El Aguila en la Historia de Mexico” (The Eagle in the History of Mexico). The forty-two-piece exhibit was sponsored by the Senate of Mexico to show how the eagle symbol has been used in the country throughout its history. This exhibit was sponsored in honor of the Bicentennial of Independence in 2010. These ceramics were chosen because of their combination of art and utility. Eagles depicted include that of Mexico’s coat of arms, as well as those of political figures such as José María Morelos y Pavón and Porfirio Díaz, and those used by institutions such as the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico and the Mexican Senate itself.

Another exhibit in Mexico centered on the creation of maps using Talavera tile. Most tiles during the colonial period were decorated with flowers and landscapes but a significant number were painted to create murals with maps. Those that survive show how a number of cities developed over the colonial period. Eight of the most representative 16th-century Talavera tile maps were at the El Carmen Museum at an exhibit called “Cartografia: Una Vision en Talavera del Mexico Colonial” (Cartography: A Talavera Vision of Colonial Mexico). This exhibit was of reproductions of the originals created by the Talavera de la Luz workshop in Puebla. The chosen maps show the development of Mexico City as well as representations of the Acapulco, Puebla and the Tesuco regions during this time period.

Exhibits have been held outside of Mexico as well. The Museum of the Americas in Spain held an exhibit called “Talaveras de Puebla, Cerámica colonial Mexicana. Siglos XVII a XXI” (Talavera Pottery of Puebla, Mexican colonial ceramics, XVII to 21st centuries). This was a temporary exhibit of 49 pieces, combined with pieces from Spain and China as references. The pieces were loaned by the Franz Mayer Museum and the Bello Museum.

Southwest Summer Decorating with Talavera

Summer is that wonderful time of year when we spend a lot of time outdoors. The day light hours are long and the evenings are warm. Flowers and trees are in full bloom and special treats such as corn on the cob and watermelon are enjoyed with lip smacking appreciation. We often feel inspired during the summer months, as in no other season, which makes it the perfect time to allow our creative energies to flow into our home decorating projects.

One such project would be to incorporate southwest decorating touches into our surroundings. Since so much time is spent outside, its only natural to create a special area to relax and enjoy all that the season has to offer. A deck, porch or patio is the perfect location to create a southwestern environment. This outdoor living area will become a favorite gathering place for family and friends and can easily be decorated in a southwest theme.

When thinking of a way to introduce southwest touches, you may wish to begin with sunflowers. Start with a wreath for your deck, porch or patio that is adorned with lovely sunflowers to welcome family and friends. Authentic Talavera Plate - MH469aRistras of dried chili peppers may be used to decorate walls and brightly painted ceramic birds could be hung from the ceiling. Consider using furniture for your outdoor space made of wrought iron and adorned with brightly colored cushions. To incorporate your southwestern theme, colors such as red, gold, orange, yellow, green, or blue are excellent choices for the plump cushions. Add plants in colorful pots to unify the area and a large rug placed in front of the seating area to define the space. A free standing fire ring could be used to cook marshmallows and hot dogs for family fun as well as to create summer memories full of pleasure. Be careful, however, to never leave the fire unattended and to keep the flame small. For a finishing touch, hang a string or two of chili pepper lights around the area for a real southwest atmosphere.

As you enter inside your home, go throughout the rooms and look for any areas that seems a little drab and try placing a Native American woven basket filled with magnificent silk sunflowers in that space. You’ll be amazed at what a little color can do. Sunflowers make any room have a sunny and happy feeling and since the flowers are silk, they can be enjoyed even after the summer season goes into fall.

Another southwest idea is to purchase Mexican pottery, such as Talavera to use in designated spaces. Each unique piece is hand made and painted and produced in all kinds of accent pieces for your home. Many of these items are adorned with beautiful hand painted sunflowers. This type of pottery is a sure way of beautifying your space with a southwestern flair. Stunning colors are introduced such as deep blue and rich gold.

Native American baskets are great for holding flowers but are also a big help in organizing our homes. Everything from mail to kitchen utensils and bathroom towels can be placed in one of these charming Indian baskets. Once you start using baskets in your home, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them. You’ll find a use for baskets in every room and be delighted at how organized you become.

If you like crafts, perhaps you would be interested in painting that wonderful flea market treasure you just couldn’t live without and incorporating it in your southwest decor. Tables, chairs, book cases, just about any piece of wooden furniture can be turned into a southwestern masterpiece. Simply choose a bright color that complements the room and before long, you’ll have a work of art. After the paint is dry, you could stencil on sunflowers or chili peppers for a unique one of a kind design.

Add southwestern sizzle to your rooms by using small table top clay chimineas to hold candles. This gives an authentic “south of the border” feeling as does wrought iron wall sconces. The atmosphere will look calming and peaceful. Large pillows covered with rich woven wool pillow covers placed around the room for comfortable floor lounging is a nice addition. Have a CD of authentic Native American flute music playing in the background and don’t forget to light the sage incense.

Summer is a great time for surrounding ourselves with beauty and things that put a smile on our faces. These lasting memories carry us through the next three seasons until once again, we can feel the delight of a southwest summer.

Talavera: An Essential Component in Southwest Mexican Rustic Home

Authentic Talavera Pottery - Fruit BowlWhen creating a southwest Mexican rustic home decor, talavera pottery can add a gorgeous finishing touch. Talavera pottery plays an important role in Mexican decor because of the unique styles, colors and designs of each creation. Your home will be the talk of the neighborhood and no one has to know you didn’t pay a fortune. Here’s some information about talavera pottery and ways you can use it for home decoration.

What is Talavera Pottery?

Talavera pottery is created with majolica earthenware, which is a type of ceramic that is glazed and white in color. The pottery was introduced to Mexico by Spaniards. It is used to decorate many patios, commercial and residential buildings, social and business squares, and even homes in Mexico.

A city in Mexico called Puebla was established in 1531 and almost immediately became the center of earthenware production. Today, the pottery is still being made with the same techniques that were used during the 16th Century, and it is the oldest tin-glazed ceramic in America.

Talavera Products for Home Decor

When shopping for talavera pottery, you must think out of the box. Look around for a variety of products, such as talavera plates, jars, pots, vases and religious figurines. You can create a southwestern decor in every room of your home using various types of pottery. Talavera pottery can be placed in room corners on the floor or next to pieces of equipal furniture such as sofas, chairs or floor lamps. Add Talavera plates to your kitchen hutch or China cabinet display along with Mexican glassware (such as blue rim margarita drinking glasses).

On the patio, use colorful outdoor equipal patio furniture along with talavera planting pots. These look lovely on wood, brick or stone patios…whatever fits your style. Hang a relaxing hammock nearby and complete your yard decor with matching bird feeders and birdhouses, garden statues (with Mexican flare), fountains and stepping-stones!

Buy pottery products to match your other southwest home decor items in color and theme. This will give every room a true southwest Mexican rustic home decor. You can buy authentic or imitation talavera pottery. Either way, make sure you’re getting quality items and buy only from a reputable retailer. There are many websites offering pottery, but beware of those that don’t guarantee the quality of their products. Also, look for other great items such as rustic sconce light covers and Mexican tin mirrors. These make great gifts for anyone that appreciates Mexican decor. You’ll want a beautifully crafted piece that will last for many years!

Intricately Detailed Talavera Tiles

talavera_tilesHandcrafts in Mexico vary widely from materials used, techniques and employ and styles preferred. The most prevalent of Mexico’s crafts is ceramics/pottery. Ceramics was considered one of the highest art forms during the Aztec Empire, with the knowledge of making pottery said to have come from the god Quetzalcoatl himself.

Pre-Hispanic pottery was made by coiling the clay into a circle then up the sides, then scraping and molding the coiled work until the coils could no longer be detected. The Spanish introduced the potters’ wheel and new glazing techniques.  Majolica glazed pottery was introduced by the Spanish. Puebla in particular is renowned for its variety of Majolica, which is called Talavera. One distinctive feature of this city is that many kitchens and buildings are decorated with intricately detailed Talavera tiles. Tiles are a subset of ceramic pottery and were used extensively in colonial-era Mexico. These tiles were first fired at a low temperature, then hand-painted with intricate designs, then fired at a high temperature to set the glaze. These are still made, but most decorative tiles used in Mexico are factory-made.  Unglazed pottery is still made, but generally it is for decorative purposes only, and copies the designs of pre-Hispanic cultures.