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Puebla, Mexico: The World’s Only City To Make Talavera Ceramics

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 

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10 Comments

  1. Raul Pacheco (@hummingbird604) on June 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Jessie,

    SO great to meet you during the #WeVisitMexico trip, and thanks for highlighting Talavera Santa Catarina. Looking forward to seeing you in a very near future. Hanging out with you and the rest of the Puebla Tweetup ranks up high as one of the most memorable press trips I have had.

    • jess2716 on June 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      Great meeting you too! I think our group needs to plan another Mexico trip ASAP 🙂

  2. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite on June 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Jessie- nice piece! I’m hoping for some quiet writing time on the plate to Paris on Wed to get some posts done. So great to meet you and I look forward to following along your “journey” wherever it takes you!

    • jess2716 on June 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Great meeting you, as well! Can’t wait to read your upcoming posts!

  3. All About Puebla on June 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Jess! Nice post. Some clarifications: To receive DO4 status, talavera pottery from Puebla must meet specific government requirements in terms of its contents (mixture of clay, all-natural paints, etc.) and production techniques. The official “zone” for making this talavera encompasses the cities of Atlixco, Cholula, Puebla, and Tecali in the state of Puebla. Ceramics are still made in Talavera de la Reina, Spain, from where many immigrants to Puebla came, but obviously the tradition and craftsmanship that developed and evolved here in Mexico is distinctly different. Happy travels, Rebecca

    See http://www.impi.gob.mx/wb/IMPI/declaracion_general_proteccion_denominacion_talave

    • jess2716 on June 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Hey Rebecca, Thanks for the clarification. It was great meeting you!

  4. Traveling Ted on June 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Puebla, Cholula, and the Talavera ceramic factories are all hidden gems. This means the experience is a hidden gem to the third power.

  5. Erika on June 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    It was great meeting you in Puebla! The manufacturing process of theTalavera pottery was fascinating. Now when I look at the pieces I brought home, I enjoy them both for the work it took to create them and for how pretty they are.

    I’m ready for Puebla 2.0 🙂

    Erika

  6. Michael on June 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Already started using my mug! It was great meeting you Jessie. Safe travels and see you down the road.

    • jess2716 on June 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Great meeting you all and I hope our travel paths cross again in the near future! 🙂

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