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History and Story of Mata Ortiz Pottery
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History and Story of Mata Ortiz Pottery: Why Oral Tradition Matters

Mata Ortiz pottery is a unique style of ceramics from the village of Mata Ortiz in Chihuahua, Mexico. Craftsmanship has been passed down for generations and remains a living part of the culture. Today, Mata Ortiz pottery is highly sought after by collectors around the world due to its intricate designs and detailed paintings.

At Palms Trading Company, we honor this oral history by offering the most ornate Mata Ortiz pieces available. We want you to know the history behind these magnificent pieces.

History Behind Mata Ortiz Pottery

The history behind Mata Ortiz pottery dates back to the 1950s when its creator, Juan Quezada Celadon, began producing his clay creations inspired by pre-Hispanic artifacts he had found nearby. Quezada was born into poverty but used his available resources to begin creating beautiful pieces of art.

His work was soon noticed by anthropologist Spencer MacCallum who helped spread the word about Quezada’s work. This was the start of the Mata Ortiz Pottery Movement.

Since then, several other artisans have joined the movement and continue to pass on this unique tradition from generation to generation. These potters keep Mata Ortiz pottery alive through apprenticeships, classes, and workshops. They also attend international conferences to share their art and stories with the world.

Mata Ortiz pottery is an incredible art form that continues to be celebrated across the globe. Its history, craftsmanship, and tradition will continue to inspire future generations. No matter what style or design, Mata Ortiz pottery is a beautiful reminder of the importance of oral tradition.

The Uniqueness Surrounding Mata Ortiz Pottery

No two pieces of Mata Ortiz pottery are exactly alike. This makes each one a unique work of art to be cherished for years to come. The craftsmanship and attention to detail in each piece make it highly sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind work of art, check out the collection of Mata Ortiz pottery at Palms Trading Company. Each piece is handmade in the traditional manner and will make a beautiful addition to any home or office.

The best way to appreciate the beauty of Mata Ortiz pottery is to see it up close. Fortunately, many art galleries and museums around the world host special exhibitions dedicated solely to this wonderful craft.

Not only is Mata Ortiz pottery an extraordinary art form, but it also preserves the traditional cultural practices of the people who live in the remote region of Chihuahua, Mexico.

An essential part of Mata Ortiz pottery is its oral tradition. This involves passing down stories from one generation to the next, teaching others about the history and culture of this community. It’s a way for these artisans to keep their heritage alive and honor those who came before them. These stories give Mata Ortiz pottery a unique sense of identity and character.

Mata Ortiz Pottery Construction

Mata Ortiz pottery is made from naturally occurring clay, such as that found in the nearby Chupaderos region. The clay is carefully collected, processed, and then combined with local minerals and sand to create a malleable material ideal for making pottery.

Depending on the type of piece, other materials, such as plant fibers and stones, may be incorporated into the clay to create different textures and colors. After the pottery is formed, it is then fired in an open pit or kiln using local materials like cedar wood, which gives Mata Ortiz pottery its distinct smoky appearance.

Finishing touches are usually done by hand with various tools, such as a brush or a small blade. After the piece is finished and dried in the sun, it is then fired again to achieve its final color and durability.

The process can take several days, depending on the piece’s complexity. In addition to traditional pottery pieces, Mata Ortiz artisans also create unique sculpture pieces and other decorative items. No matter the type of piece, Mata Ortiz pottery is known for its vibrant colors and intricate designs.

Tools Used

In Mata Ortiz, pottery tools are sparse yet ingeniously crafted. The artists acquire the fine hair of young children for painting their ceramics – 2 to 6 strands per brush! Through gentle encouragement, these children generously donate their hair which is bound to a pencil to paint delicate, thin lines with an unwavering hand.

In the pottery-making process, artists may use simple tools such as a wooden paddle, a stone hammer, and an abrading stone to shape the clay.

They also use fine-tipped brushes made of human hair or animal fur to make intricate designs. Other tools used in Mata Ortiz include needlepoint sticks for creating dotted patterns and a gourd to hold liquid paint.

Mata Ortiz Pottery Firing

Pottery must be fired twice to strengthen its structure and solidify the colors of the glazes. This process is known as “bisque firing” and involves raising the kiln’s temperature to 1,400°F (760°C).

After cooling, the pieces can then be decorated and glazed. Afterward, the pieces are fired again at a much higher temperature, up to 2,300°F (1,260°C). This process is known as “glaze firing” and creates a stronger and more durable pottery piece. During this second firing round, the glazes melt and become part of the ceramic material.

This firing process gives the Mata Ortiz pottery its unique look.

Why You Can’t Cook in Mata Ortiz Pottery

Mexican pottery is made from non-refractory clay, meaning it can’t withstand intense heat or sudden temperature changes. This makes it unsuitable for cooking as the material will crack and break under such conditions.

Mexican pottery should never be exposed to direct sunlight or water to prevent fading of the colors and glazes.

These pots are meant for viewing and not cooking since they’re unglazed and fired at lower temperatures.

Where to Buy Mata Ortiz Pottery

When looking to add these beautiful pieces of oral history to your collection, check out Palms Trading Company. Our certified collection of Mata Ortiz pottery inspires awe in all who gaze upon its elegance.

Stop by our Albuquerque shop or check out our Mata Ortiz pottery collection online today to find your unique piece of history.