Creating Magic a Journey Through The Artisan Process, Part 3
In December of last year, we shared the first two parts of our blog series, "Journey Through the Artisan Process." While much has transpired in the past seven months, it is safe to say that there is little comparison from the first half of this year to the daunting disruption, disorder, dysfunction and, downright disaster of 2020. If we were to look back on on the lived experiences after emerging from a year of pandemic lifestyle, the question remains, did the pandemic change your perception of the world? Did it possibly make you a more compassionate and thoughtful person? Obviously, this is not the reality for the vast majority, as all you need do is open a newspaper. Even if some of us have barely felt the effects of Covid 19, hopefully, we have come away with deeper care and concern for those with whom we share our existence while here on this earthly plane.
Part 1 in this series of 3 blogs focused on the origins of the art of Talavera ceramics, and Part 2 concentrated on our handcrafted Talavera pet bowls with details on the development of their design and color. Still, our pet bowls are just a part of the Tierra collection. The Tierra Collection is only a fraction of the Talavera artistry found in the pueblo of Dolores Hidalgo in Guanajuato, Mexico. I could not begin to guesstimate the number of Talavera artists in this community. The diversity of artistry, color, and design is mind-boggling and makes a "quick buying trip" impossible based on the available selection.
We are currently working with 4 different artisan studios in Dolores Hidalgo, and each creates unique designs that they have been perfecting for years, and in some cases, for generations. We have had a working relationship with two of these companies for almost 20 years and have grown with them as they have introduced new products.
The studio that creates our tiles, produces innovative designs that are beautiful, colorful, and often whimsical. They are innovative in their development of a technique called "relieve" which when translated means "relief." The process used in this technique requires the application of paint multiple times on each tile. A small silkscreen is used to apply each color individually, to the specific area in the design. As the paint is added, layer upon layer, there is a smooth thickness that is created on the tile, and the finished product, after firing in the kiln at a temperature over 1500˚F degrees, now has an actual 3-dimensional quality. These tiles have unique characteristics that make them not only beautiful, but add a durability that allows them to be used as floor and wall tiles as well as decorative items.
01.In the artisan's studio where our relief tiles are created. Large tiles, 12" x 12", beginning to add special paints to the basic terracotta tile to create the colors and the "relief" or dimensional effect produced from layers of paint.
02. Another artist who is adding paint to our coaster tiles, 4" x 4".
03. The final step in the process. The tiles have received their final layers of paint and are now ready to be carefully inserted into the frame and placed into the kiln for the final part of the firing process.
The studio that creates our treat containers, mugs, and functional tabletop items is now introducing a line of jewelry that is unique and beautiful. We are excited to see these items and hopefully incorporate them into a new collection that will include jewelry items created by a few different artisans that we have known for many years.
01. Artisan working on a new design, a "cantarito", a small container made from terracotta clay. Cantarito translated from Spanish means "little pitcher". The shape resembles a little pitcher minus the handle; just large enough for an individual 8-ounce drink.
02. Artisan inspecting his "blank canvas". before beginning the painting process. Soon the white clay will be transformed into a colorful Flamenca Catrina.
03. The kiln loading process begins. Talk about careful organiztion! This photo only shows a part of this container that is so large that it sits on a system of "rails" so that it can be carefully slid into the "fire"
And finally, our sculptural collection of Talavera treasures includes the Beatles, the Muertos Doggies, donkeys, and cats, and the Grateful Jerry (Jerry Garcia} favored by many of the "deadhead" generation who faithfully appreciated and worshipped Jerry Garcia and the music of the Grateful Dead.
01. The finished product! Life-sized Catrinas are hand-painted works of art; behind these elegant ladies are many other sculptural talavera figures.
02. More life-size catrinas surrounding a Cantera stone fountain in the center of the artist's studio. Look carefully, and you will see the "Beatles" and the "Grateful Jerry" talavera sculptures placed on the rim of the fountain.
Undoubtedly, there will be much more to be added to our Tierra Collection after our next adventure to Dolores Hidalgo where there will be unlimited new Talavera items to bring back to the U.S.
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