Most of the day was spent in San Bartolo Coyotepec.
Our first stop was at the workshop of the family of potter Dona Rosa. The Dona Rosa invented the burnishing technique that produces the glossy black pottery that the village has become known for. Her son don Valente continues the tradition.
Here are three pots that sit outside of the door of my room here at the Casa.
examples of black pottery
Don Valente is in his 80s. He still works everyday. The potters here work without a wheel as we think of it. Instead they use two dishes shaped like saucers. One placed upside down on the floor and the second placed right side up on top of it. The pot is then shaped by hand by turning slowly.
setting the pot on the saucer
creating a pot is a multi-day process. The first day the pot body is made, then after drying a couple of days the neck is added.
forming the neck
Another round of drying and the decoration (if any) is added. This is incising using shaped tools. Pots can also have bits stuck on to create an applique like effect. Cutting away parts of the pot to create lacework is also common. (See the above picture of pots in the Casa.)
The unique thing about the black pottery created in San Bortolo is the glossy finish. The finish is created by taking a dry, unfired pot, making the surface a bit damp and rubbing it with a piece of smooth quartz. Then firing the piece for 10 hours. The finished piece is beautiful but fragile and porous. We’ve never had much luck trying to get pieces home without them breaking.
burnishing the pot
The result is the glossy surface on the lattice work on this pot.
lattice work black pot
originally the clay at San Bartolo was used to make functional vessels. These are fired for 13 or 14 hours and the pots are matte dark grey. These pots are waterproof and durable. They also make a pleasant ringing sound when tapped. Don Valente has a set that he plays a tune on at the end of his demonstration.
fired for 13 or 14 hours
The two pictures above were taken at the folk art museum near the zoloco in San Bartolo. The building is another example of the fine modern architecture that being done in Mexico.
folk art museum
Fireworks are a big deal and common at all sorts of fiestas here. One of the kind of freaky and cool things that they do is take fireworks into the crowds. The car in this picture is a ‘mule’ that is loaded with fireworks that spark and spin. Bulls and horses are also common shapes but anything is fair game.
car structure used to support fireworks
At the folk art museum we made two excellent discoveries.
Miguel Ramirez, who is up in the Xochimilco neighborhood of the city. I’ve seen his work before but haven’t had a name to put to it. Next time I’m here I’m have a better chance of finding his workshop.
The other discovery is entirely new to me. Adolfo Alquisiris Guerrero. He’s a welder who works at the Pemex plant in Salina Cruz. Be makes things — mostly animals out of recycled parts. I’ll try to set up a chance to see and buy some of his work the next time we come done.
Jim liked this picture a lot. He mumbled something about grumpy kitties. I chose to ignore him.
bring it, cupcake