From the skilled hands of Mexican artisans, comes the unique Talavera pottery, inspired by both Mexican and European influences. This tradition originates in the city of Puebla from the time of its origin in the early 1500's. The beautiful and elegant earthenware is the result of the talented artistry of native Mexican people, mixed with those of craftsmen from other countries such as Spain and Italy. The colorfully glazed and painted artwork is detailed, depicting fanciful patterns on tile, pottery, sinks and other styles.
When traveling in northern Mexico, I ran into Talavera pottery for the first time, in a large craft bazaar. I went booth to booth in El Mercado in Puerto Vallarta, checking out all the pottery, and had a hard time buying only one piece to take home. The more detailed a piece was, the more expensive it was. With rich colors such as cobalt, green, red and yellow, all the designs capture your attention and make you want to look more closely at the complex patterns. Each piece is hand-painted over a white base glaze Majolica-style, and then signed by the pottery studio or craftsman who made it. Also, it is marked with its city of origin, Puebla. If these bottom markings aren't present, it isn't an authentic Talavera piece.
Going into galleries in the streets of Puerto Vallarta, I saw an even wider variety of larger, more expensive Talavera pottery, along with beautiful tiles and even sinks. They were spectacular. Nothing dresses up a kitchen or bathroom like hand-painted ceramics. For anyone wanting to decorate their home, these designs make any room look sophisticated and unique. Talavera ceramics aren't cheap, especially the fancier patterns and larger pieces, but they are worth the money for sure. Hours of artisans’ work went into each, and no two items are exactly the same.
If you want to look for Talavera nowadays, all you need to do is search it on the internet, and there are many sites to buy it from. Now that a trip to Mexico isn't necessary to buy them, shop around and compare sites. Different artists have different styles of painting so see which style suits your needs best. When buying tile, buy more than you think you'll need, because that style may become discontinued. Buy more to be safe, so you won't have trouble finding more tile to finish your project later.
The versatility of Talavera pottery will fascinate even the most picky customer. It's like going to an art gallery to see all the hand-painted artwork of Pueblan craftspeople. Look around, and you're sure to impress by dressing your home with the beauty and elegance of these unique Mexican handicrafts.
Carolyn McFann is a scientific and nature illustrator, who owns Two Purring Cats Design Studio, which can be seen at: http://www.cafepress.com/twopurringcats . Educated at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Carolyn is a seasoned, well-traveled artist, writer and photographer. She has lived and worked in Cancun, Mexico, among other interesting professional assignments in other countries. Clients include nature parks, museums, scientists, corporations and private owners. She has been the subject of tv interviews, articles for newspapers and other popular media venues.