Black Pottery from San Bartolo Coyotepec in Oaxaca
Black pottery from San Bartolo Coyotepec in Oaxaca is world famous and you cannot miss it if you visit Oaxaca even if you don’t get chance to visit the village of San Bartolo. The process of making the black pottery pieces is lengthy and requires enormous skill on the part of the artisan. Firstly the clay is kneaded until it becomes soft and then the clay is moulded to the form that the piece needs to take. The primitive clay form is then dried in direct sunlight for four days after which if there is any cutting out needed, or the piece needs to be shinny or have shinny patches on it, the necessary work is completed. Should the piece need any cutting out this is done by steady hands and is very precise work. The shiny effect is achieved by polishing the piece by hand with quartz crystals. The piece is then scraped and left to dry in the sun for another for days. After this the piece is placed in a kiln (normally wood fired) for a day where the black pottery takes on its black colouration. This property of taking on a black colouration upon firing is unique in Oaxaca to San Bartolo Coyotepec.
The economy of San Bartolo Coyotepec is highly dependent on the production of black pottery and as direct consequence tourism, so why not take a few pieces back as souvenirs for your friends. The black pottery craze was started by a lady known as Doña Rosa and many of her pieces are now in museums. Her family has kept up the family business and the workshop is still there to invite visitors to San Bartolo to have a look around the workshop and purchase a souvenir of their trip to Oaxaca. There are of course hundreds of families selling black pottery in San Bartolo now who will offer to do the same, and all have their own styles.
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