Where: Puebla, two hours from Mexico City, Mexico
What’s in store: Hand wrought tin glazed pottery and tiles, painted by hand in lively colours
Bag a bargain: Uriarte Talavera is the biggest workshop in Puebla, check for the ‘Denominacio de Origen’ certificate of authentic production
Where it’s at
Puebla, about 80 miles from Mexico City, is a beautiful colonial city, populated with well preserved churches, ex-convents and monasteries. Declared a Patrimony of Humanities site by the United Nations for its fabulous architecture, Puebla is famous for its gastronomy and for the hand-wrought, tin-glazed Talavera pottery and tiles that are made here.
What’s in store
There are fifteen Talavera workshops in the town which have been awarded a ‘Denominacio de Origen’ by the Regulatory Talavera Council. This certifies that they use clay that comes from Puebla and it is moulded using the authentic methods.
Authentic Talavera pottery is hand-painted with intricate designs using dyes derived only from natural minerals (ie blue, black, yellow, green and reddish pink). The originally Moorish technique was brought to Puebla by 16th century Dominican monks from Talavera de la Reina in Spain, but 17th century Italians introduced new colours, namely yellow, green and black, and Chinese imports inspired new designs depicting animals or floral scenes.
Uriarte Talavera is the biggest workshop in Puebla, and visitors can take a tour to witness the production process: from the purifying of the clay to its shaping into tiles, urns, tableware, flowerpots, Christmas ornaments and all manner of decorative items, then the painting, firing and final glazing of the piece.
Bag a bargain
Original Talavera doesn’t come cheap but is considered superior to the version produced in nearby Dolores Hidalgo. Although potters there are up in arms that since the award of the Denominacio de Origen they can no longer call their wares ‘Talavera’, experts can tell the difference immediately – in the colour of the glaze (Talavera is white while cheap ceramics are white), the brightness of the colours (minerals are brighter than chemicals), the glassy sheen and overall texture of the piece. If in doubt, the amateur can always check the place of origin inscribed on the bottom of the pot.
Taller Uriarte – Puebla Fábrica
4 Poniente 911
Centro C.P. 72000
Puebla, Pue. México
Tel: 011 52 22 32 15 98
Fax: 011 52 22 42 29 43
Whilst you’re in Puebla, you may like to check out the collection of antique Talavera vessels on display at the Museo Amparo:
Avenida 2 Sur # 708
Tel: 52 22 246 46 46 / 246 42 10
By Jess Halliday