Talavera Pottery is a Unique Art Form

MH468aTalavera pottery is a unique art form produced in Puebla, Mexico. Although it has a long history, little is known concerning the aspects that contribute to perceptions of authenticity.

A study of people who purchase Talavera found that authenticity encompasses five main factors: Appearance/Utility, Tradition and Certification, Difficult to Obtain, Locally Produced, and Low Cost. ANOVA indicates that there are differences with respect to the perception of authenticity with regard to appearance/utility and locally produced. Local tourists view authenticity through appearance and utility while international visitors are more concerned with the pottery being locally produced by local residents.

The challenge for the people of Puebla is to continue to encourage interest in Talavera production while attempting to maintain its perception of authenticity and uniqueness among local residents and visitors to the region.

Collecting Authentic Talavera

Authentic Talavera PlateIn the early 20th century, interest developed in collecting Talavera 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.[2]

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).[2]

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.

Allure of Mexican Talavera

The world of interior design knows Talavera pottery as an ornate style of ceramics produced solely in Mexico by proud local artisans. These vibrantly colored, handcrafted works of art have been fashioned in the same way for centuries and appreciated for their quality and aesthetics for just as long. So what is it about Mexican Talavera that makes it so special?
Mexican Talavera Pottery

The world of interior design knows Talavera pottery as an ornate style of ceramics produced solely in Mexico by proud local artisans.

As you can imagine, Mexican Talavera has a long and rich history. Named after the Spanish village of Talavera de la Reina, this renowned ceramic art boasts a melting pot of multiculturalism. The Spanish contribution dates back to the invasion of the Moors, who brought their knowledge of ceramics from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and which was later refined by a combination of the Italian Renaissance and artisans from the Orient. Later, Spanish colonists brought their highly refined ceramic skills to Mexico, where they were once again blended with the unique pottery styles of Aztec, Mayan and other indigenous cultures.

It’s not just the history of Mexican Talavera that makes it so desirable. Excellent craftsmanship is a common trademark of Talavera pottery. The process begins by blending together two different clays, then soaking them thoroughly in water to improve pliability. When it’s determined that the clay is ready, having been removed of impurities, it’s then formed into the desired shape by hand, molds or a potter’s wheel. Next, the newly constructed form is left to dry for up to three months. Once the artist has inspected and approved the dried clay, the piece then undergoes the first of two firings. The initial firing turns the clay into a reddish-orange color that is then brightly painted with intricate patterns – a trademark of Talavera ceramics. Afterwards, the pottery is submerged in a special tin-glaze, then fired once more. The final product – what was once an ordinary mound of clay – is now a beautiful work of Talavera art.

Talavera pottery is known for brilliant colors set against a pristine white background. Typically, the vivid patterns are slightly raised, and the entire piece is smoothed over by a glossy sheen. Yellow, green and mauve were traditionally the most prolific colors used to decorate Talavera, although cobalt blue was the most desired. Due to the expensive mineral pigments required for its use, this regal color became a way to identify the finest quality of Talavera ceramics.

Today, Talavera patterns can be simple and bold or elaborate and highly detailed. Floral patterns are perhaps the most common, but when it comes to Mexican Talavera, creativity is limitless. Although some patterns might appear similar, hand-painted Talavera is never identical. This should be no cause for concern, however, as color and pattern themes almost always exist, and the individual character of each piece will only enhance your Talavera collection or home décor. This is especially true if you consider decorating your home with Talavera tile.

One of the most predominant characteristics of colonial Mexican cities, in particular the city of Puebla located in central Mexico, is the beautiful Talavera tiles. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the production of Talavera pottery continued to grow, striking tile and tile murals began to adorn Mexican churches, buildings, stairways, gardens and homes. These architectural examples splashed color in an otherwise dull stretch of concrete and brought kitchens and bathrooms to life in a way that only Talavera tile could deliver. Now, more than ever, this style continues to be embraced as authentically Mexican.

When it comes to Mexican and southwestern home décor, Talavera pottery and Talavera tile can be an essential part of capturing an authentic design motif. At La Fuente Imports we strive to offer the most outstanding and diverse selection of handcrafted Talavera tiles found anywhere on the web. Also, be sure to browse our exceptional Talavera plates and platters, plus everything else for decorating your home including Talavera vases, canisters, planters and more!

Talavera Plates as Art

Talavera plates made in Pueblo, MexicoHang plates instead of framed artwork on your walls! Talavera Plates are a great way to add color to an otherwise neutral room, so take yours out of the cupboard and try some of these great ways to display them.

For collectible plates you don’t use, why not create “artistic impact” by grouping the plates in a large cluster for a jaw-dropping display.

Another idea is to paint a wall in a complementary or contrasting color, hang wood shelves and fill your shelves with your decorative plates.

How do you hang plates in an artistic way? “Grab some leftover newspaper and trace each plate or framed piece onto the paper and cut them out. Use your paper cutouts to figure out the proper layout of the series. Experiment with your grouping on the floor to work out the arrangement you like best. Gently tape the cutouts to the wall in the design of your choosing. Periodically step back to make sure you are happy with the spacing and the height of the entire group. Once you are completely satisfied with the placement on the wall, you can begin hanging the plates.” – Sheila Schmitz, Houzz Editor.

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.

Majolica Tile Murals

There’s nothing shy about Mexican interior design as it is full of color and ornate details. Instantly add an eye-catching colorful backdrop to your kitchen with our decorative Majolica Tile Murals. Each mural is the perfect finishing touch to any kitchen which is in search of a splash of color and Mexican flair.

Fresh Salsa Tile Mural

There’s nothing shy about Mexican interior design as it is full of color and ornate details. Instantly add an eye-catching colorful backdrop to your kitchen with our decorative Majolica Tile Murals. Each mural is the perfect finishing touch to any kitchen which is in search of a splash of color and Mexican flair.

Both of our new mural designs offer artwork which evokes the vibrant spirit of Mexico. Our Chile Harvest Tile Mural and Fresh Salsa Tile Mural are highly-durable, washable and can go where prints and paintings can’t.

Majolica pottery originated in the 16th century and is primarily distinguished by the milky-white glaze used after the first firing. Each mural is created in Santa Rosa workshop which lies in the mountains of central Mexico, high above the city of Guanajuato at 8,360 feet. Each Santa Rosa Majolica piece is in itself a unique work of art, one that will bring the flavor and flare of this artistry directly into your home.

All majolica tile murals are perfect for kitchen application as they have a semi-gloss finish that is fade, weather and scratch resistant so they can be installed either indoors or out! Where will you install your new mural?

Puebla’s Talavera Pottery

Talavera Serving Bowl - Made in MexicoWorks of art good enough to eat off – that’s the essence of Talavera pottery.

The Mexican pottery, which has been around for 400 years and is primarily made in Puebla City, is an artistic and practical achievement. Vases, cups, plates, serving bowls, and tiles, called azulejos, are some of the items I saw being made in Uriate Talavera factory where the highly regarded, expensive pottery is hand made. The factory, which was established in 1824, is one of Puebla city’s most renowned because it is one of the few authentic Talavera workshops left today. Talavera is one of Mexico’s most unique items, making it a worthwhile gift to bring home.

Puebla City is located sixty miles southeast of Mexico City, making it a convenient hop, skip, and a jump away – and a convenient escape – from Mexico City, which is the world’s largest. Puebla City, which is also the capital of the same name state, is the country’s fourth largest urban center. Approximately two million people live there. The residents, who call themselves poblanos, live in the most European of all of Mexico’s colonial cities. The Spanish established and planned the 16th century city from the  ground up, rather than building it within an existing indigenous community. They did this because the location was on the main route between Mexico City and Veracruz, which was at that time the most important port in the country. Puebla City is situated at a height of 7,000 feet above sea level and is  blessed with a temperate, year round climate.

While the Spanish may have first introduced the highly decorative art from their home country when they settled in the heart of Mexico, diverse artistic styles, including Moorish and Oriental cultural nuances transformed the colonizer’s craft to what it is today. The Moorish influence of cobalt blue patterns on white appeared on Mexican pottery around the late 15th century, while the Oriental styles of animals and floral designs were first seen in the mid-16th century. To be authentic, Talavera pottery (named after a town in Spain) must be hand-painted in intricate designs using natural dyes derived from minerals. The colors used include blue, black, yellow, green and reddish pink.   During a ninety-minute tour of the factory, we learned just how long it takes to make these detailed works of art. And while the pottery is expensive to purchase, even at the point of production, our tour helped us understand why. The factory usually offers free tours that are shorter, but our group of writers was interested in learning minute details about how the pottery is made.

First, black or white clay is soaked for several days in water to soften it, said Angela Garcia, the cheerful tour guide who patiently answered all our questions. Both colors give the same end pink result, she said, but only clays from four areas, Puebla, Cholula, Tecalli and Amococ, are used in making Talavera pottery. A sieve is used to strain the clay, which breaks it into fine, uniform particles that will give the earthenware a smoother finish. The clay is then left in vats for several days to separate out the water.

Next, a potter molds the clay, sometimes by hand, and at other times with a potter’s wheel, after which he or she rubs it with a damp sponge to create a fine finish. The molded clay is left in the sun to dry for up to five days, depending on its size. Once the pottery is thoroughly dry, it is baked for about eight hours at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit in a handmade brick oven. We observed employees banging the pottery with a steel stick to check if there were any tiny hidden cracks. “The pottery should sound like a bell” if there  are no cracks, Garcia said. The fire-worked clay is then dipped for about three seconds in a lead-free yellow-like glaze which turns to white once dry, and “any tiny imperfections are reglazed,” Garcia said. “The fingerprint made while lifting the item out of the glaze is also filed down,” she added.

The individual creative paintwork which is done on each piece by the factory’s fifteen painters comes next. The designs are transferred to the ceramic by the use of carbon paper on a paper stencil, and the resulting dot pattern is then used as a guide for the handpainted designs. The length of time it takes to finish painting a ceramic piece depends on how intricate the design is and the size of each piece, the guide explained. When we visited, artists were painting huge urns, small serving dishes and 18 tiles that comprised the picture of the Virgin Mary.

When dry, the paint’s mineral colors change composition. Orange changes to yellow, black to green, brown to red, and light blue becomes dark blue, Garcia said. The earthenware objects are once again oven-fired, resulting in a hard, brightly colored surface. The pieces are now ready to be sold, either in the factory’s on-site shop or abroad, including the United States, Canada, Spain, Venezuela, and Peru. About 70 pieces a day are made by the approximately 200 employees, a sign of just how labor intensive the creative process is.

Jose Luis Hernandez from the local tourist office scraped the surface of a tile to demonstrate the high quality workmanship. The tile showed no signs of damage, a proof of its high quality, said the official who’d accompanied the writing group to the factory. “Although the prices are high, the pottery is  genuine” and not all local shops are selling the real thing, he emphasized.

Besides a visit to the pottery factory, the city’s compact, historic downtown is famous for the many 17th and 18th century colonial buildings that are ornately decorated with Talavera tiles. With more than seventy churches and one thousand colonial buildings in the central area alone, visitors feel like they are walking around an open air museum.

An outstanding use of 16th century Talavera tile is found in the former kitchen in the Ex-Convento de Santa Rosa de Lima. The building is now the state artisan museum, or Museo de Artesanias del Estado. The kitchen’s huge, multi-domed interior is covered from top to bottom with the famous tilework.  However, what may be even more interesting for the locals is what’s said to have been invented there – Puebla’s renowned mole sauce. The dark colored sauce, which can contain up to one hundred ingredients, is supposed to have been invented by the Dominican nuns as a surprise for their demanding gourmet bishop. Mole sauces, which have many different flavors, generally contain fresh and smoked chile, pepper, peanuts, almonds, tomato, onion, spices, and, of course, chocolate, of which the best known is made with a bitter variety. Food supplies in the kitchen were cleverly kept cool by a double wall that had water running in between.

The Museum of Santa Monica is another worthwhile stop. Generations of nuns secretly hid there when the Reform Laws of 1857 closed church-owned buildings after Benito Juarez separated church and state. To survive, the nuns sold candies and embroideries during almost eight decades of clandestine activity.

The museum houses religious art and items of self-flagellation, including whips and crowns of thorns in some of the former nuns’ penance rooms.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is considered one of Mexico’s best proportioned cathedrals, is the second largest in the country, and also has the highest towers. Built between 1575 and 1649, the main altar has sixteen marble columns, and the large floor and several statues are also made of the same  material. Gold leaf decoration is used in some of the many chapels, and a huge bronze statue of the Virgin Mary weighs 300 tons. When I visited, a priest was hearing a penitent’s confession without the usual private door separating them.

The Amparo Museum has an excellent collection of pre-Hispanic and colonial artifacts displayed in two linked colonial buildings whose architecture was influenced by indigenous designs. A glass case displayed an unidentified animal and perhaps a man about to be sacrificed in Veracruz some 2,500 years  ago, and there were also Olmec masks, a feature of Olmec civilization three millennia ago. The museum, which opened in 1991, was the first in the world to have a computerized touch screen that answers visitors’ questions about museum artifacts.

The House of the Puppets, near the main square, is the city’s most comical structure. The building’s exaggerated statues are a caricature of the city fathers who took the house’s owner, Agustin de Ovando y Villavicencio, to court because his building was taller than theirs. He added the statues, which represented various officials, to get his revenge on the small-minded officials.

The Barrio del Artista, on the pedestrian-only Calle 8 Norte, is a lovely place to wander around while looking at artists at work in their open studios. Their paintings can also be purchased. The imposing principal theater, or Teatro Principal, is nearby.

Other unusual but-worth-visiting-places, which I didn’t have time to see, include the African Safari Park, reputed to be one of the best places in Mexico for African wildlife. The park is located about ten miles southeast of the city. I also didn’t have time to visit the house of culture, or Casa de la Cultura, a classic brick and tile Puebla building that occupies a block facing the cathedral. Formerly the bishop’s palace, it is now home to the tourist and other government offices. The Palafox Library upstairs has thousands of valuable books, including the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle which has more the 2,000 engravings.

Puebla is noted for its cuisine, and many consider it to be the best in the country. It’s believed that the Santa Monica nuns (cooking rivals to the mole-making Dominican nuns) invented chiles en nogada, a seasonal dish that’s available from July to September. It’s said to have been created in 1821 to  honor Agustin de Iturbide, the first ruler after Mexico’s independence. To make chiles en nogada, a poblano chilli is filled with ground meats and fruits. It is then covered with a sauce of chopped walnuts and cream, and topped with red pomegranate seeds. The overall effect is colors representing the green, white and red of the Mexican flag.

For deserts, Sweets Street, as its name implies, sells almost nothing but things-bad-for-the-teeth –  candies, including camote, a popular regional treat made from sweet potatoes and fruit, and cochinitos, which is made of bread, molasses and sugar. Famous treats from other regions like crystallized fruits, coconut candies, and bisnaga, a sweet made from cactus and sugar boiled together, are also available in the many sweet-tasting stores.

Sweets Street was a fitting ending to a city well worth a return visit.

How Talavera is made in Puebla : www.elcampanario.net/Talavera.shtml

Day of the Dead Majolica Kitchen Canisters

Majolica Talavera Kitchen Canisters - Day of the DeadDay of the Dead Majolica Kitchen CanistersAs bit of punch to your kitchen with our day of the dead majolica pottery canisters. Square shaped and design with soup smooth rounded edges, these are the perfect pieces to generate a bit of conversation in the kitchen. Majolica dates back to the 16th century and is distinguished primarily by the milky white glaze that is used after each piece is fired the first time. Very diverse, and similar to Talavera, the main distinction is that majolica offers a much wider range of colors, and the style is much less restrictive.

These canisters are produced in our Santa Rosa workshop, nestled in central Mexico, high in the mountains. Originally started by a family known as the Salazars, majolica has been crafted in Santa Rosa ever since for the past 45 years. Paying close attention to the tradition and methods used by the founders, the grandchildren manage every aspect to include studio design, sourcing, glazing, and even the creation of new design styles.

As such, each piece is unique and has a bit of charm and character unlike anything else you have ever seen. These day of the dead canisters are certainly no exception. The whimsy, and playful design are a great way to give a head nod to one of the oldest of Mexican traditions. Honoring the dead has been a mainstay in Mexico for centuries, and these pieces speak to that culture. They are also quite utilitarian! Store your sugar, flour, rice, corn meal, and other kitchen staples inside to keep them safe, and close at hand for quick use. Easy to clean, simply wipe the canisters with a damp towel and the original luster is restored.

Playful, colorful, and vibrant, these canisters are the perfect way to punch up a dim kitchen. Add a bit of fun and frolic to your kitchen counter tops when you order our majolica pottery day of the dead kitchen canisters. Sizes range individually from small to large, or purchase all three as a set and save a few extra dollars. These are fun pieces that you don’t want to be without.


Talavera Ginger Jar Vases

1416342718-TGJ500A_med_new (1)Talavera Ginger Jar VasesLooking for a truly unique accessory for your home? Well, our Talavera ginger jar will have no problem fitting the bill. Handcrafted from Clay, and then painted in a classic Talavera style, this vase is simply beautiful. The artisans around Dolores Hildago, Mexico certainly know what they are doing. This ginger jar amazing hues of blue, contrasted with soft yellows and light greens. The dominant orange color works to hold the artistic floral pattern together, grounding it as well. The elegant siren shape gives just a touch of class that you want for your home. This vase would look beautiful displayed anywhere.

Design and Placement Ideas – Group this vase together with a couple of pictures, or some other knickknacks on top of a console table to create interest in depth. Use it as a focal piece by placing it on your mantle, or in your guest room on a dresser.

You could even take a color from the piece and use it to design an entire room. Simply pick out the colors on the face and use them for Accent pillows on your sofa, drapes for your windows, and other pieces of art to hang on the walls. Sometimes it is amazing how one piece can inspire an entire room. Yet, that is often the case with accessories purchased from La Fuente Imports. The handmade quality and colorful design’s inspire people to create entire things around one or two pieces that they purchase from us. This ginger jar vase is no different.

Purchase one today, and put it to work for you. Purchase a couple and use them to create symmetry on a foyer table, or add a sense of balance to a large mantle. Group three or more for a collective art piece. With an accessory that has this much class and style, you simply can’t have too many!