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.

Talavera is the Oldest Tin-Glazed Ceramic in America

MH456a - Talavera PlateTalavera is the oldest tin-glazed ceramic in America and it is still being manufactured with the same techniques as in the 16th Century.

Puebla not only was the second most important city in Mexico, after the country’s capital Mexico City, it was the most important earthenware center of the Nueva España, which was the name of Mexico in Colonial times.

The production of tiles and ceramic ware in Puebla, started almost immediately the city was established in 1531.  Thanks to the abundance of quality clay in the region and to the splendor of the arts at that time in Puebla, in a short time the  Talavera Poblana achieved such quality and beauty that it was soon exported to the rest of the continent.

There are several theories about its origin in Mexico, but the most accepted explanation is that Spanish monks from the Santo Domingo monastery in Puebla, sent for craftsmen from Talavera de la Reina to teach the indigenous people of the region how to work the clay so they could create pieces similar to the ones produced in Spain.  They wanted to decorate with tiles and religious sculptures their monastery and church.

The indigenous people of Mexico were very accomplished potters and already had a very long tradition producing earthenware.  But they did not know how to use the potters wheel or tin-glaze their pottery, which is one of the main characteristics of the majolica ceramic.

Other versions state that the Dominican friars were the ones that knew how to produce this type of ceramic and that they were the ones that taught the Indians how to do it.

The truth is there are documents that record the presence of several craftsmen from Talavera de la Reina in Puebla during the 16th Century, which established their workshops to produce tiles and ceramic wares. It was a very profitable business since there were so many churches and monasteries being built.

In time, a potter’s gild was formed and Ordinances were laid down, that all of the potters that wished to produce Talavera had to follow. This was done so that the quality of the ceramics called Talavera was uniform and that this earthenware had a distinctive style and excellence.

Some of the rules established by the Ordinances were:

  • The color blue was to be used on the finest ceramic. This was so because the mineral pigments needed to produce this color were very expensive.  The customer could then easily distinguish the quality of fine ceramic from one of lesser quality.

  • To avoid falsifications each master potter had to sign or mark his products.

  • Three types of earthenware were to be produced depending on the quality of the pieces: Fine, Semi fine, and for Daily use.

Blue and White Talavera Tile

Majolica Talavera Pottery La Fuente ImportsBlue and White Talavera Tile – If you are looking to put a little bit of the Southwest into your home’s design scheme, why not try it with our Talavera Tile. Particularly, are blue and white pattern is just the perfect thing to liven up a space. These tiles make perfect accent pieces for kitchens and bathrooms, yet they have many other applications as well. Brighten up a set of patio steps by facing the risers with some blue and white Talavera Tile. If your back patio is a bit aged, liven it up a bit by placing tile on the back wall. These pieces really make backyard spaces pop. You could even try in-setting a few of them into concrete stepping stones to echo the tone of Mother Nature. Their bright, festive nature lends them to all sorts of applications!

If you have any leftovers, they make perfect coasters. Simply glue four rubber feet to the bottom to prevent the back from scratching your furniture. You could also group a few together and use them as a trivet. Their ceramic material means they really stand up well to heat and cold. They also do a great job as a coaster by protecting your beautiful wood furniture from those pesky water rings.

Yet, the really unique thing about our Talavera tile as opposed to other types; our tile is all handmade in Mexico. That’s right, our artisans use traditional means and make the tile in the traditional Talavera manner, using only the highest quality materials and natural pigments. These methods have been passed own for generations and the skill set takes years to master. Most master tile makers spend several years as an apprentice in a local shop, working under a master artisan in order to hone their craft. The result is unmatched quality and amazing artistic design. Take some today and see why Talavera is the premier choice for brightening up any space in your home.

Talavera Pottery Pieces

Talavera Plates from MexicoTalavera is a unique type of pottery that comes from Puebla in Mexico. Although the natives of the area had been making pottery for a long time, when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they taught the locals new techniques. Using the Spaniards’ tin-based glaze and pottery wheel, the locals began producing this unique type of pottery. Talavera is highly sought after, and if you want to purchase authentic pieces, there are a few things you should know. By doing research on how to identify Talavera, the types of pottery, and how to authenticate them, as well as following a few helpful guidelines, finding authentic pieces is easy.

Talavera pottery pieces have a distinct, milky-white finish and a raised design. Collectors consider a piece to be authentic Talavera if it comes from the city of Puebla, or nearby places such as Cholula, Atlixco, and Tecali, not only because of the techniques the artisans use, but also because of the natural clay found in these areas. To make Talavera, potters use two kinds of clay: dark clay and light red clay. They mix the two clays together, then knead them, and then strain them. Some artists use a wheel to make bowls and vases, or they hand press and shape them around a mold. They leave the pieces to dry for two to three months, and then the pieces go through a first firing, before undergoing a glazing process. They add designs using stencils and hand painting, before firing them once again, this time at a higher temperature.

Talavera is quite versatile, and artists make a variety of items, not just bowls and vases, from this type of earthenware. Many come in the traditional designs and make for great decorative and utilitarian pieces in the home.

While there are many types of individual pottery pieces, clay tiles are the most popular application for Talavera. Many buildings in Mexico City and Puebla use these tiles for decoration. Talavera clay tiles are also a distinct feature in traditional Puebla kitchens, used as decoration for walls, counters, and food containers.

One thing anyone who wants to buy Talavera should know is how to spot authentic pieces and distinguish them from regular types of pottery. The Mexican Government, through the Mexican Talavera Regulatory Council, has actually laid down some rules to limit the production of this type of pottery to within four districts. Any workshop looking to produce authentic Talavera must apply for certification from the council, and must pass a verification process each month.

Real Talavera must pass other standards as well. The workshop making the Talavera pottery must only use the two types of clay that come from the area. Next, the artist must only hand-form the clay. For example, he or she must never mix the clay into a liquid consistency and pour it into molds. The clay should have a tin and lead glaze base, which should be slightly porous and not pure white. Finally, artists must paint the pieces by hand, using only the prescribed colors: blue, green, yellow, red, brown, and black, although mixing these colors with blue to form orange and purple is acceptable.


The production process of Talavera

The production process of Talavera has remained almost unchanged since colonial times. The process employs two different kinds of clay: white and black, combined in equal parts.

To prepare the clay, the first step is cleaning it, by putting it through a sieve, mixing it and placing in it in sedimentation tubs, until excess water is dried out. This “maturation” process increases the quality and plasticity of the clay.

MH468aNext, the clay is “stepped on”, that is, it is kneaded by having someone walk over it to obtain a uniform consistency and humidity. Afterwards, blocks are formed and the clay is stored.

Production can be done in one of two ways: by using the potter’s wheel, or through the use of molds, over which clay plates are placed. Once the pieces are completed, they are stored in unventilated spaces for a long period of time, so they can dry slowly and uniformly.

Afterwards, the pieces go into the kiln for the first time, for a period of about 10 hours.

Then, an enamel made of tin and lead is applied through an immersion process. This layer is the basis for the decoration.

The designs are selected along with the colors, which are prepared with mineral pigments, respecting the traditional colors of the Talavera of Puebla.

Finally, they go into the kiln for a second time. This is where colors obtain their characteristic shine and volume.

Talavera Pottery near Mexico City

The city of Puebla, 80 miles from Mexico City is the largest colonial city in the country, and it is recognized for its magnificent historical center as well as for its centennial Talavera Snack Tray by Studio Tomas Huerta production.

In México, conquistadores found a pottery production of excellent quality, which had been developed over several centuries. It had excellent quality. Pottery was used for domestic utensils, but it also played a significant role in religious ceremonies and funerary rites. In addition, clay was used for the creation of extraordinary sculptures.

During colonial times, Spaniards started bringing ceramics from Europe, as well as establishing Spanish potter workshops. Puebla was the main pottery production center not only of the New Spain, but of the New World. In 1550, 20 years after the city was founded, it already had several workshops of glazed pottery and tiles which would later be known as Talavera de Puebla and that, from that time, became the best known type of ceramics in the country and one of the oldest crafts in Mexico.

Its name comes from the place of origin of the first artisans which produced it and from the fact that the techniques used copied those used in the town of Talavera de la Reyna, in Spain.

Nowadays, its production maintains its primitive character, but its decoration has been modified as its Muslim, Chinese and European influence has been combined with local elements that provide its unique and unmistakable characteristics.

From the beginning hose same workshops produced Talavera tiles, a covering that enriched viceroyal architecture, becoming an element of identity of the urban image that lasts to these days.

Authentic Talavera TileThe use of Talavera tiles started in religious architecture, and was later adopted by civilian architecture. They were applied with both decorative and utilitarian purposes. Over time, they were used in larger and larger surfaces until the XVIII century, when the use of tiles was generalized and, combined with bricks, they covered entire facades. By playing with different shapes and sizes, very original designs were created.

They adorned floors, patios, stairs, fountains, door frames and windows. In churches, they covered altars, domes and frames, and so Puebla became the city where Talavera will find you at every corner.

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