Nicasio Pajarito González
The famous canelo (cinnamon) pottery of Tonalá
Mexico's people have, over the centuries, become a mixture of colors. Take the bronze complexion of its indigenous peoples and add the white of the conquistadors and you get a color similar to cinnamon or canelo. This is the color of Nicasio Pajarito González' pottery. The color of his heritage. To get the desired cinnamon (canelo) color, Nicasio must mix clay from Rosario with a black clay brought from Tateposco. His paints are natural earth pigments.
Nicasio was born in Tonalá where his entire life has been dedicated to the study of clay. His children, Zenón and Isabel work with him, learning his love of his craft. The designs of their pieces are unique often having handles in the shapes of bulls or horses. The care and love put into the pottery is evident from the finished piece.
Where does he get his clay? Near Tonalá lie deposits of black, white and red clay with varying proportions of silica. He pays a fee to extract great chunks of clay from this area. His children fetch the clay and once home, the chunks are broken up, ground into a powder and then sifted to removed impurities. Next water is added and the clay begins to "ferment" covered in plastic and set aside for a short time.
One of his most difficult pieces to create is a large bottle. the base, neck and bowl-like pieces that form the body, are all molded by hand and then skillfully joined together. The seams are smoothed with a "Castile stone." Once dry, the pieces are joined to the base and an opening is created at the top where the neck will be placed. The smooth surface is achieved by applying a pigment and then it is left to dry.
matiz clay is applied that gives the background color. Now the pot is ready for the decoration or embaje. Paints are mixed from natural earth pigments and Nicasio and his children make their own brushes from animal hair. The appliquéd elements are done first and then, with very fine brushes, the most delicate work is completed. The pieces are burnished with a stone for a long time and with great pressure to fix the colors and seal the pores of the clay. Finally, the pieces are wiped with a cloth to clean off any dust and placed in the kiln for about three hours. The finished product has taken on a canelo coloring with cinnamon-related shades.
To view a current video on how barro canelo (cinnamon pottery) is made, click on this link