Mexico's artesanías is exemplified through its pottery. In a small mountain pueblo, a family extracts large natural clay from a local clay (barro) quarry. This is the raw material with which Pedro Hernández Carlos and his wife, Isabel Serrano, create the celebrated pineapple pots of Michoacán.
The quality and precision exhibited in the work of this family is unparalleled. Pedro's grandfather was the first in the family to make piñas. He entered a piece of his work in a Consurso (a judged art show) and came away with a prize. Pedro's father then passed down the secrets of their work to Pedro.
The exceptional skill and mastery with which Pedro, Isabel, and their son, Rogelio, first design, and then set about to create a new masterpiece is an extraordinary experience to watch. Their process has been captured on film by the film team of Lisa Orr and Troy Lanier and can be purchased at www.potteryofmexico.com.
The following series of photos capture the process of applying a lead-based glaze to a muñeca (doll). The first photo is the muñeca after she has been fired for almost 6 hours. She is now ready to have the glaze applied. Rogelio, tapes over the ears, which will be glazed a different color while Pedro mixes the glaze in a large washtub. Next the piece is carefully held over the washtub of glaze that has been hand-mixed by Pedro. Using a small bucket and splashing the glaze onto the piece with his hands, eventually it is totally covered in the light-orange colored mixture that will eventually end up a dark green after firing.
Pedro takes a moment to add wood to the kiln - the same type of kiln used for centuries to make this type of pottery. Meanwhile, Isabel works on the small decorations that will be added to one of the special pieces they will enter in a Concurso. Their work is truly a "family affair" from beginning to end.