How Mexican Tile and Sinks are Made
THE HISTORY OF TALAVERA MEXICAN TILE AND SINKS
Talavera Tile is a hand-made and hand-painted ceramic tile carefully made by craftsman families in Mexico. Mexican craftsmen and women have been making Talavera tile since the 16th and 17th Centuries. It began in the Mexican state of Puebla when the Spaniards introduced the wheel and tin-based glazes. The Mexican craftsmen of the time incorporated those techniques into their own skilled work resulting in the amazing tile we now call Talavera. Production became highly developed in Puebla because of the availability of fine clays and the demand for tiles from the newly established churches and monasteries in the area. The tile and the technique name “Talavera” comes from the town of Talavera de la Reina, Spain, located near Madrid, which is known for its superb tiles and pottery.
The industry had grown sufficiently by 1663 that a potter’s guild was formed and ordinances were passed to regulate the production of Talavera. Production reached its peak between 1650 and 1750.
The basic process for making Talavera has remained the same since the 16th Century, though there have been changes in the shapes of pottery made, the designs and decorations, and colors. For example, in the beginning, Talavera was only white and blue, with new colors of green, orange and yellow not appearing until the 18th Century.
The tradition struggled since the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century, during which Talavera workshops numbered less than eight in the state of Puebla. Later efforts by artists and collectors revived the craft somewhat in the early 20th century, until now about 20 workshops produce authentic Talavera.
Real Talavera can be distinguished from imitations or mass-produced, machine made products by the raised design and high gloss of the surface finish. There are only six permitted colors: blue, yellow, black, green, orange and mauve, and these colors are made from natural pigments. The painted designs have a blurred appearance as they fuse slightly into the glaze. The base, the part that touches the table, is not glazed but exposes the terra cotta underneath. The paint ends up slightly raised over the base. In the early days, only a cobalt blue was used, as this was the most expensive pigment, making it highly sought after not only for prestige but also because it ensured the quality of the entire piece.
Traditional Talavera pottery is made with two kinds of natural clay a light, rose-colored clay and a darker clay. Both clays come from the state of Puebla, Mexico.
The technique then mixes these two clays together, strains and kneads it. Each item is then hand-modeled, turned on the wheel (for bowls, pots, cups, urns, sinks etc.) or pressed into a mold (tiles, murals, etc.) depending on the item being made.
The pieces are then dried from 50 to 90 days. Once dry, each piece goes through an initial firing and then are hand-dipped into a glaze which forms the milky-white background of every design. Designs are then dusted onto the pieces using a stencil and charcoal powder. Finally, each piece is hand-painted and fired for a second time at a higher temperature. The entire process takes from three to six months.
You can see why each tile is really an individual work of art that will add lasting beauty and warmth to your home. Where else can you buy exquisite pieces of unique hand-crafted art for your home at such an affordable price? A machine-made product at twice the price somehow seems dull and sterile in comparison.