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Artisan Mata Ortiz Pottery: Designs and Techniques
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Artisan Mata Ortiz Pottery: Designs and Techniques

Located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua just south and west of El Paso, Texas is the small town of Mata Ortiz. Situated along the banks of the Palanganas River, this community has long been inhabited by indigenous peoples and is widely known for its unique and beautiful pottery style. If you’re looking to add a new and beautiful piece of pottery to your collection, read on to find out more about some of the contemporary works of  pottery inspired by the beautiful and ancient Mata Ortiz pottery tradition.

Mata Ortiz Pottery Origins

The pottery style of Mata Ortiz harkens back to Mogollon antiquities. Ancient remnants of pottery have been found in the Casas Grandes at the Paquime pueblo in Mexico. The remains of this beautiful pottery style have inspired many local artists around Mata Ortiz, with the revitalization led by the famous artist Juan Quezada Celado. With the influence of Quezada’s pottery dating back to the 1970s, the town of Mata Ortiz has become widely known as a hotspot for artistic pottery production.

Pottery Crafting Techniques

There are some unique practices associated with the creation of Mata Ortiz pottery. Even in the modern era, pottery is created using simplistic tools and techniques without the use of a wheel. Instead, a ball of clay is made and then shaped and pressed into a tortilla shape, often with the use of plates or bowls to help maintain structure. Additional coils are added to achieve the desired shape, and then the internal and external walls are scraped to achieve a smooth texture. For the final step, pieces are left to dry out and then fired inside a pit oven.

Blending Ancient and Contemporary

When it comes to decorating these beautiful pieces, artists use a blend of both ancient and contemporary styles to add patterns and color to their works. Thematic elements are drawn from motifs and imagery that can be traced to a time before Spanish colonization. The two major design elements that can be seen in this style of pottery incorporate geometric patterns and neutral colors. The use of earthen tones and beautiful line-work can be seen, and much of the pottery maintains similarities with neighboring Paquime pottery. In present times, artists using this tradition often also connect to more spiritual design elements with religious imagery and natural elements from the desert, such as foliage and wildlife.

Palms Trading Company 

Whether you’re looking for a Mata Ortiz piece or something from another Pueblo pottery tradition like Acoma pottery, check out all of the amazing pottery we have to offer at Palms Trading Company. We work with local artisans to ensure that all of our pieces are beautiful and authentic, and we even offer a free personal shopper service to ensure you find the exact piece you’re looking for. Get in touch and find the next incredible piece of Pueblo artwork to add to your collection!

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