Admiring Talavera: Made by Hand

Talavera – Made by hand, the craft object bears the fin­ger prints, real or metaphorical, of the per­son who fashioned it. These fingerprints are not the equivalent of the artist’s signature, for they are not a name. Nor are they a mark or brand.  They are a sign: the almost invisible scar commemorating our original brotherhood and sisterhood, made by hand, the craft object is made for hands, Not only can we see it; we can also finger it, feel it. We see the work of art but we do not touch it. The religious taboo that for­bids us to touch saints=you’ll bum your hands if you touch the Tabernacle,’ we were told as children—also applies to paintings and sculp­tures. Our relation to the industrial object is func­tional; our relation to the work of art is semi-reli­gious; our relation to the work of craftsmanship is corporeal. In reality, this last is not a relation­ship but a contact.

Talavera plates made in Pueblo, MexicoThe trans-personal nature of Talavera craftsmanship finds direct and immediate expres­sion in sensation: the body is participation. To feel is primarily to feel something or someone not ourselves. And above all, to feel with some­one. Even to feel itself, the body seeks another body we feel through others. The physical and bodily ties that bind us to others are no less pow­erful than the legal, economic and religious ties that unite us, Craftsmanship is a sign that expresses society not as work (technique) or as symbol (art, religion) but as shared physical life.

The pitcher of water or wine in the middle of the table is a point of convergence, a little sun that unites everyone present. But my wife can transform that pitcher pouring forth our drink at the table into a flower vase. Personal sensibility and imagination divert the object from its ordinary function and create a break in its meaning: it is no longer a recipient to contain liquid but one in which to display a carnation. This diversion and break link the object to another realm of sensibility: imagination. This imagination is social: the carnation in the pitcher is also a metaphorical sun shared by everyone.

In its perpetual move­ment back and forth between beauty and utility, pleasure and service, the work of craftsmanship teaches us lessons in sociability. At fiestas and ceremonies its radiation is still more intense and total. At fiestas the collectivity communes with itself, and this communion takes place through ritual objects that almost always are handmade objects. If fiesta is participation in primordial time—the collectivity literally shares out among its members, like sacred bread, the date being commemorated—craftsmanship is a sort of fiesta of the object: it transforms a utensil into a sign of participation.

Article excerpt from Artes de Mexico Magazine – June 1992



The Ceramic Ware Known as Talavera

Talavera is a term shrouded in mystery, though it is no less mysterious than the human persistence in shaping glazed and painted objects from the earth: objects which clink like muffled bells when struck together and allure us with their beauty. The ceramic ware known as Talavera is no doubt part of Mexico’s most important traditional art forms.

Talavera Ginger Jar by Maximo Huerta

Historically, the art of Talavera is related to certain spaces: the kitchen, the church and convent, the facade and interior of the home—as well as the workshop, where the age-old rituals of the craft are still performed. Like sculpture, this art is spatial, and it also encompasses an internal space: that of the imagery represented on its surfaces. These spaces make up a world where reality and fantasy are one, where hands that make and buy and sell join with hands that paint the shape of the artisan’s. This is the world of Talavera: a world within our own world.

Among the first natural settings for Talavera is the typical kitchen featured in Puebla: where the tiles that cover the walls—sometimes even the ceiling—and the platters of food on their way to the table, combine to form a “culinary architecture” where the interior space of the kitchen becomes a full-scale reflection of those typical dishes from Puebla—richly flavored, colorful and unique. The tiled kitchen and the Talavera dinnerware made of glazed white ceramic become a sort of echo chamber where the food is enhanced by the visual condiment of Talavera. In addition to the one afforded by the meal then, Talavera offers a pleasure that enters through the eyes. And like food, it is a pleasure that is shared.

Talavera Plate by Studio La Cupula

A very different kind of kitchen—the traditional pharmacy—was literally lined with Talavera containers which were not only practical but often strikingly handsome. These were imperme­able on the inside and were often inscribed—before they were fired—with the name of the herb or substance they would con­tain. Or, if the jars had been commissioned to be used in the pharmacy of a particular convent, they would feature the emblem of that religious order.

Churches and convents, in fact, were also natural settings for Talavera. Both housed an incredible variety of objects like the lebrillo; which was used for the both the solemn rite of baptism, as well as the banal. Day-to-day washing of hands or feet. Both the sacred and profane gestures of a community are concentra­ted in the ‘Talavera of cimrlem and convents. Though modest, this glazed curibessume pourided a sort of vivid centerpiece to the shared life of the cloister. Outside, the facades of churches were tiled with Talavera in an attempt to make the exterior syn­onymous with the wealth of gold which their altars flaunted. These facades truly project the splendor of Talavera.

Article excerpt from Artes de Mexico Magazine – June 1992


Authentic Talavera from Mexico

Talavera Ceramic is mostly used to make utilitarian items such as plates, bowls, jars, flowerpots, sinks, religious items and decorative figures. However, a significant use of the ceramic is for Talavera Tiles.MH475a

Talavera 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. The tradition of Talavera production has struggled since the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century, during which the number of workshops were 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 the Denominación de Origen de la Talavera law to protect authentic, Talavera pieces made with the original, 16th-century methods.

“Travel across Mexico, and you’ll see all sorts of signs of Spanish influence that date back to the colonial era. Architecture, of course, is chief among them—but there’s also talavera. More than 300 years later, the popular style endures. The colorful ceramics are found in the form of decorative tiles adorning buildings’ exterior and interior walls (one of the most spectacular examples is the Casa de los Azulejos in Mexico City), as well as in the form of Talavera Plates, bowls, and other serving dishes found in Mexican kitchens and on dining room tables.” – The Latin Kitchen

La Fuente Imports one of the largest selections of high-quality Authentic Talavera available online!


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Make a Statement with Talavera Tile

talavera_tile_pattern1Looking for way to spice up your home? Incorporate some Talavera Tile into your design mix. Colorful and festive, this vibrant tile is the perfect way to add an accent to any room. With origins rooted in the fair city of Puebla Mexico, making Talavera tile is a craft undertaken by skilled artisans and pottery craftsmen. They use various types of native clay that are indigenous to the area. This is a must in order for the tile to be unique and carry the name Talavera. The pieces are handcrafted using a potter’s wheel and sealed with glazes that contain lead and tin. Initially, only cobalt blue was used as a pigment. If you find some older pieces you will definitely notice this.  Cobalt Blue was the most expensive pigment making it highly desirable and sought after as a status symbol of prestige.


Eventually, other pigments made their way into the mix such as black, green, yellow, blue, mauve, and orange. No other colors are allowed since Talavera only uses those six colors. Each pigment has to be all natural as well. No artificial pigments whatsoever are allowed to be used if the tile wishes to be called Talavera. Yet, since they are made from all natural products, they can take a bit longer to produce. Some pieces take as long as three or four months to complete. This makes the pieces a bit more expensive than normal tile. However, you are paying for a hand crafted quality piece, and unique artisan design. It takes a true craftsman to understand Talavera. In fact, the rules are so strict that the only tile allowed to have the name Talavera are those that are purchased from an approved artisan workshop. This way the tiles authenticity and quality are without question.  talavera_tiles

La Fuente has partnered with some great Talavera providers to offer their vast collection of Talavera tile. If you are looking for quality pieces at more than reasonable prices, our Talavera collection is sure to delight.

Tips and Ideas for Using Talavera

If your kitchen back splash is looking a bit dull, use a few pieces to breathe some life into the space. Since there are five or six colors in each piece, you can usually find a connecting point no matter the color scheme in your kitchen. To add visual interest, try incorporating only three or four pieces into your back splash. To create a statement piece, cover your entire back splash with Talavera for an eye-popping colorful feast!

Talavera can be used outside as well. They are perfect for facing stairs since they will not get much direct use. It is not recommended that you use Talavera tile for walkways due to their delicate nature. These pieces are meant to be seen more so then used. Just make sure to keep that in mind. Walking on them could cause the tiles to crack or break. Beyond back splashes and floors, how about a few other ideas? Set a few pieces together, frame them, and stick them on your wall for a unique piece of art. If you have pieces that have been discarded after a project, turn them into makeshift coasters or trivets. There are so many possibilities that you will want to keep revisiting our Talavera tile for all your design needs.talavera_tile_border_1









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New Talavera Tile Designs for Fall

We’re keeping things fresh this Fall by adding nearly two dozen new Talavera Tile designs to our enormous online selection! Talavera tiles are handmade in Mexico and are perfect for your home if you enjoy rustic, bold and lively design.Talavera Tile Escamilla Azul Design

Are you thinking of completing a home renovation in the future? Incorporating beautiful handcrafted Talavera tiles is the perfect place to start! Authentic Talavera Tiles are both an eye-catching accent and durable for everyday use. By using dark colors and/or bold Talavera patterns, you’ll add dimension and a bit of fun to your bath or kitchen. The simple and special tile patterns form new geometric designs when combined, for example the corners of each tile creating a new middle piece. Solid color tiles are great for separating your patterns with blocks and patches of color. Any one of these new designs, Flor de Corazones, Romanesco, Cholula Mexicano or the Estrella de Fuego, would be beautiful combined with a solid tile.

As we discussed in our 5 Advantages of Decorating with Talavera Tile article, you’ll find Talavera Tile to be rustic, bold and beautiful. Talavera is perfect for those who want to redesign a kitchen or bathroom with a colorful theme. Each tile features both variances in color and imperfections in the finish. This is part of the appeal of Talavera tiles; they are meant to be imperfect and used in a rustic or southwestern setting.

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Talavera Oval Serving Bowls for Holiday Entertaining

Authentic Talavera Oval Serving Bowls are perfect for creating a festive holiday this year! These festive bowls are a beautiful highlight to any Holiday dining table, buffet or serving area. Whether you’ll be serving up authentic Mexican recipes or a simple side dish – everything will be more special when served in Talavera.Oval Serving Bowl by Studio Tomas Huerta

Our Talavera serving bowls make a grand impression with their Southwest styling. Bowls are beautifully handcrafted and hand-painted by various studios, including the studio of Tomas Huerta. Each authentic piece is made in Puebla, Mexico and is 100% lead free; chip resistant; and microwave, oven, and dishwasher safe for years and years of durable enjoyment.

If dining use isn’t your intention, then consider using these pieces of art as decoration. The bowls will make a colorful addition to any room’s decor. For decoration purposes there is an eyelet on the back side of each Talavera Bowl for hanging on walls. Please remember that due to the handmade nature of Talavera, colors and design may vary slightly.

If you need a smaller serving bowl, then consider one of our stylish Talavera Fruit Bowls or our versatile Talavera Snack Trays.

La Fuente regularly stocks these pieces so that you can fill your holiday table with Mexican-style this season!

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