When visiting the culturally rich city of Puebla in Mexico, one unique excursion is to visit the Talavera Santa Catarina ceramics factory in the Cholula area. Puebla is the only state in the world to have an origin of denomination dealing with ceramics.
Talavera pottery is named after the city of Talavera de Reina in central Spain, the only other place outside the state of Puebla to make Talavera, although in Mexico it is distinctly different. The style has Chinese and Arab origins, and is distinguished by the fine clays found in Puebla, fired with a tin and lead glaze at high temperatures. To meet official Talavera standards, certain government regulations must be met regarding its contents. For example, the mixture of the clay must be a precise way, and the paints must be all-natural.
There are nine workshops of Talavera in Puebla, and you can only get the special clay in Cholula. The process uses natural clay, and all the colors are prepared on site except for the base blue. All clay is molded by hand, meaning no two pieces are ever identical. Likewise, a big piece can take up to six months to make.
The stages can be seen above. The first stage is the barro clay piece, which is then fired in the oven. From there, it’s glazed, stenciled and painted.
If you’d like to see Talavera ceramics in the city center, visit Uriarte, a traditional Talavera enterprise since 1824, and the oldest Talavera company in Puebla. The factory makes about 20,000 pieces a month, still using 16th century methods.
Whether you want to purchase high-quality ceramics, or are just curious and want to browse, visiting a Talavera factory in Puebla is a unique cultural experience you can’t find anywhere else in the world.
This post was made possible by a trip sponsored by the Mexico Tourism Board