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How is Talavera Made? - CEMCUI

How is Talavera Made?

Talavera has been declared by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity since 2019. This type of majolica pottery is only found in certain states of the Mexican republic; such as Tlaxcala and Puebla, but the authentic talavera is only found in certain localities of Puebla.

This ceramic is distinguished by its vitreous finish (a thin, opaque layer placed on the surface of the ceramic to add color, texture and water resistance) in ivory white as the base color of the decoration and for this only certain colors are used, which are:

  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Black
  • Orange
  • Mauve 

The design of the piece is strictly regulated by tradition, and the paint should be felt to the touch with a slight elevation above the base. It is mainly used as tableware for interior decoration and as tiles for exterior decoration. 

The elaboration process is as follows:

  • Mud:
    • This is the first phase, in which two types of clay, black and white, are mixed, and then placed and left to rest. Once the clay has finished resting, it goes to the hands of the artisans who will shape it either with molds, lathes or by hand. Once it has its shape, it is left to dry at a specific temperature and humidity, and depending on the size, it can take from 8 to 12 weeks.
  • The jahuete or sancocho:
    • The dried pieces are baked at a temperature of 1562°F. Acquiring the typical color of clay, which is known as jahuete, which means "cooked piece” in Mexico. It is also known as sancocho, which comes from the Old Spanish and means “partial baking.”
  • Glaze or enamel:
    • By means of immersion, the entire surface is covered to apply the paint. The glaze provides the traditional luster and color unique to talavera poblana. What makes talavera stand out from other glazed ceramics is the color of the glaze, which is not completely white, as well as its texture.
  • Stenciled:
    • Talavera designs are marked on the pieces with stencils, which have been used since the 16th century and are a kind of stencil, providing a guide for the application of the paint.
  • Painting:
    • The colors used to paint talavera are obtained from natural minerals and traditional mule hair brushes. The intense color, brightness and durability of the talavera is due to the fact that the properties of the paint react with the enamel when it is baked for the second time at a temperature of 1922°F.
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