Well those seemingly ubiquitous “Mexican tiles” are much more unique than I realised – being Talavera pieces. Talavera is a distinct type of ceramic only produced in the state of Puebla in the cities of Atlixco, Cholula, Puebla, and Tecali – the only places truly under the Talavera designation. To receive this special designation, the ceramics must meet specific government requirements in terms of contents (a special mixture of clay, only painted using all-natural paints) and production techniques. Who knew? An “AOC” for ceramics?
As part of my recent trip to Puebla, I was fortunate enough to tour one of the nine workshops in the Puebla area who use the special designation for their ceramics, Talavera Santa Catarina in Cholula, as well as check out some more beautiful pieces at the Uriarte Talavera showroom in Puebla.
At Talavera Santa Catarina, we were treated to a guided tour through the factory and the process of making the Talavera designated ceramics. The Talavera process starts with a special mixture of clay that, once combined, are washed, matured and decanted. Then they are rolled into “tallas” that must be worked with the feet before they are worked on a pottery wheel.
The final product can take up to 6 months for the larger pieces and you can be assured that no two pieces are ever the same. For some, the authentic Talavera pieces are seen as expensive, however, after having seen the process and all that is involved, I feel it’s well worth it. A unique piece of pottery to remind you of your travels long after you return home? There’s no question of whether you “need” it. It’s a must-buy!
I couldn’t, however, leave without buying a few smaller pieces (or, ahem, a few). Note to self. When flying through Houston airport, remember how big it is and that ceramics are very heavy. Second note to self: Try to never fly through Houston airport again. But it was worth the hassle because look:
I’m proud to say this picture was featured in the print edition of The National Post’s Gastropost on Saturday June 29th They must have liked the plate too!
If you’re in Puebla, see if you can arrange a taxi to visit either Santa Catarina in nearby Cholula or Uriarte Talavera in Puebla
Talavera Santa Catarina
Prolongación 14 oriente 1402,
Cholula, 72810 Puebla,
4 Poniente 911
San Pablo de Los Frailes,
Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza, Puebla
Disclosure: My trip to Puebla, including transportation, accommodation and all meals, was sponsored by the Mexican Tourism Board. I was not required to post about this trip and was not compensated for doing so. All opinions are my own.
Follow my French travels on Flickr this summer with my Summer 2012 set of photos – updated regularly!