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Tonala Black Clay Pottery


Small Black Clay Vessel


La Familia Mateos

The Mateos family has been making Tonala black clay

pottery for several decades.  They work in a home studio

space that is delightful, and many members of the family

participate in the various steps.

Each vessel is coated before it is fired.

The brush is cloth.

I have put some pictures below to share the process with you.

There are many steps in the production of these exquisit vessels.

If you want to skip the production pictures and go straight to the

vessels themselves

click this link


The process begins by mixing several clays together to get a clay

maleable enough to allow the shaping as well as the etching of each individual piece.

Eusebio begins to form the clay by hand.

The vessel is made in

two pieces

The pieces are united to

form the vessel

Rigoberto combines parts

that make the shape.

He then removes imperfections and adds or subtracts decorative elements.

The vessels are placed in the sun to dry.

After they have dried sufficiently they are ready

to work.

The vessel is then rubbed with a small river stone, using water, to eliminate the roughness, polishing the surface.

When the vessel has been

polished smooth and shiny, it is covered with an earthtone, like a terra cotta.

It is then covered with an animal fat to preserve the shine on the pot and allow the design to be rapidly cut into the vessel.

The design is then cut into

the vessel.

When the vessels are ready

they go to the kiln.

Several pieces are put into

the kiln at one time.

The vessels are turned frequently.

They are covered with

Eucalyptus leaves to give them the rich black color.

When the fire has burned out the vessels are cleaned.

The result is an exquisit

Tonala black clay vessel.

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