The Art and Science of Talavera Pottery at Talavera de la Reyna, Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
Written by Debra C. Argen   

Talavera Pottery, Talvera de la Reyna, Puebla, MexicoTalavera is the name of the famous white glazed handmade pottery that is seen throughout Puebla, Mexico, and to learn about the making of talavera, I visited Talavera de la Reyna to understand this fascinating art.

The making of talavera is steeped in history and is a painstaking, and time consuming process, however the result is well worth the effort. The Spaniards brought the technique of making talavera, a type of majolica earthenware, to the indigenous people of Puebla, who mastered this art. Highly acclaimed throughout the world, talavera remains an important part of Puebla's history, and is used as tiles on the façades of buildings, on the domes of churches, on the walls, floors, and sometimes even on the ceilings of homes, and is also used to create dishes, sinks, and other decorative pieces.

Talavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico
Talavera de la Reyna

Visiting the Talavera de la Reyna atelier in late October 2009, I learned about the making of the art in a step-by-step process that begins by adding equal parts of white and black clay, one type of clay gives strength and the other type gives it pliability, to a large machine where it is mixed with water; once mixed, the clay is submerged in water where it rests for 2 months.

After 2 months, the water is drained and the clay is left to dry in the sun for another 2 months. After this process is complete, the next step is stomping the clay, which the artisans do by using the heel of their shoes to soften the clay; the clay is now ready to use.

From Clay To Art: Now that the clay has been prepared, the artist will cut a piece of clay from the clay pile, and will then use a large, heavy rolling pin to roll out the clay to soften it. Once this process is complete, the artist will place the clay on a potter's wheel to create various pieces.

Debra C. Argen at Talavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico
Debra Rolling the Clay

While I was at the atelier, I watched one of the artists who was creating bowls, however instead of using a smaller piece of clay and creating an individual bowl from a single piece of clay, he used a large piece of clay to create a bowl and when it reached the desired shape and size, he cut the bowl from the top of the clay using a piece of wire, and continued to make more bowls from the same piece of clay.

Talavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico - Working with the clay
Creating a Bowl

Once the pieces are created, they are then left to dry in the sun for 3 weeks, followed by firing in an 850° kiln for 8 hours. Once fired, an experienced artist dips the pieces in the special glaze to create a very smooth finish without flaws, and then the pieces are left to dry for 1 day.

Talavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico - First FiringTalavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico - Waiting to be Painting
  First Firing                         Waiting to be Painted

The next step is painting the pieces using the 6 traditional natural colors made from stones: cobalt, light blue, green, yellow, red, and black. To provide authenticity of Talavera, the artist who painted the piece will write the following information on the object: Talavera, name of the atelier, Puebla, Mexico, the date, and their signature or design mark.

Talavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico - Artist Painting Piece Talavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico - Artist Painting Piece
Artists Painting the Pieces

Once painted, the pieces receive another firing for 9 hours in a 1050° kiln. The process of making Talavera is definitely an art as well as a science that requires great skill as well as patience, however the result is a creation of lasting beauty.

Talavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico - Authenticity
Talavera Authenticity

Talavera de la Reyna is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 pm - 6:30 pm, and on Saturday from 8:30 am until 2:00 pm.

Talavera de la Reyna Handmade Pottery - Puebla,Mexico Talavera de la Reyna
Caminoa la Carcañ
a 2413
Recta a Cholula, C.P. 72760
Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:  +52-222-225-4058
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Please read other articles on Puebla, Mexico in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, and Gastronomy sections.

Read other articles on Mexico in the Destinations section: Riviera Maya, Mexico and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico; in the Adventures section: Adventures: Maya Zip Lines - Flying High in Riviera Maya, Rio Secreto - Exploring the Riviera Maya Cenotes, Riding ATVs in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico, Biking, Kayaking, and Snorkeling in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Swimming with Dolphins in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico, in the Hotels and Resorts section, in the Spas section, in the Restaurants section, in the Chefs' Recipes section, in the Liquor Cabinet - Scorpion Mezcal, and in the Music Scene section: Paco Renteria Interview and Paco Renteria - Gitanus and Oceano.

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