black pottery

Remembering Oaxaca...

It was so pleasantly warm when we visited the Rosa Family's ceramic studio.  We learned that the matriarch, Doña Rosa, was a Mexican ceramics artisan from San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. Originally her pottery--as most pottery was--was functional holding food and liquids. In the 1950s, other forms of storage became popular and the need for the ceramic vessels declined. Ingenuity and necessity compelled Señora Rosa. She discovered that rubbing the dull black clay with quartz and firing it at a low temperature gave it a shiny metallic finish. It was no longer functional but the pottery quickly became popular among Mexican folk art collectors. Doña Rosa died in 1980 but the tradition of making barro negro pottery is carried on today by Señora Rosa’s daughter and grandchildren.

We sat for a demo and within 20-minutes a water pitcher was made right before our eyes. The most amazing part was how the artisan created a pottery wheel by simply using two shallow bowls. Notice in the photo below: one bowl is upside down and the other is balanced open side up with the clay sitting inside. He manually spins the bowl on top which allows him to create a symmetrical shape. Truly amazing to watch!

My first thought as we arrived to the studio was how similar the Doña Rosa's pottery was to Hungarian black pottery. I was taken back to my days living in Budapest. I searched for information about Hungarian pottery but found little online. The image below is of Hungarian artist László Lakatos. Click on the photo below to see more images.