Quintessentially colourful and unique, Talavera pottery has coloured Zocalo’s courtyard since it opened. Talavera ceramics are perfect additions to a quiet indoor corner or a unique garden or patio. What makes it so unusual? What distinguishes it from other types of pottery? Below, a little history of these bold art pieces.
Originating in Spain, and migrating to Mexico in the first century of the colonial period, Talavera pottery has been charming homes since the 1550s. Talavera is distinguishable from other majolica styles by its milky white glaze.
Originally, Mexican Talavera pottery only came from the city of Puebla and the nearby communities of Atlizxo, Cholula, and Tecali, due to the quality of the natural clay found in the area. Talavera is a type of Majolica pottery, which is an Italian tin-glazed pottery style which was started in the Renaissance era.
This type of pottery is generally used to make tiles, plates, bowls, jars, flowerpots, sinks, or decorative figures. Many buildings in the city of Puebla are tiled with Talavera tiles (Azulejos), giving it the nickname “The City of Tiles”. The tiles used to be such a sign of prosperity that that if one were never to be rich, it was common to say that they would never have a “Casa de azulejos” (house of tiles).
The process for making Talavera has remained the same since the 16th century, but the shaping and decorative aspects of the art have gone through changes. Two kinds of clay (a light and a dark) are mixed and kneaded together. The pottery is then turned on a wheel, molded by hand, or pressed in a mold, and then left out to dry. After drying for 50-90 days, the pottery is fired and hand-dipped in a glaze which gives the white background of the Talavera design. Traditionally, the colour blue was only used in the finest ceramics as the mineral pigments needed to produce the colour were expensive. However, in the 1800s it became much more common to include other colours such as green, yellow, or mauve.
The Talavera at Zocalo took many days of travelling dusty Mexican roads to find. It comes from the state of Michoacán and is the brightest and most finely painted we could find. Here, see us looking through the workshop deciding on different styles to compliment your cheerful oasis at home.
We love these pieces because they are steeped in history, in art and in colour. Kick back, put on your best Renaissance style, and enjoy a new piece of pottery as you imagine yourself in sun-basked patios of Mexico or Italy.