Mata Ortiz Pottery
Juan Mata Ortiz is a small town just three hundred twenty kilometers northwest of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. There live about 300 families dedicated to pottery, creating the most extraordinary jobs that are currently produced. Each potter makes the piece in the same way in which they were made 600 years ago in the city of Paquimé, however today's potters have incorporated their innovative designs and the development of their own distinctive styles.
Mata Ortiz Ceramics are made with ancestral techniques that the Paquimé culture used with designs made with lead-free and mineral paints and children's hair brushes. These pieces are made entirely by hand in an approximate period of one to three months and are used in their burning stage poplar tree bark and buñiga (dry cow manure) to achieve the appropriate temperature as well as preserve the style of rustic burning that characterizes them.
To make a pot, potters start by kneading a clay tortilla that they compress with their fingers into a shallow, plate-shaped plaster matrix. After cutting the excess from the edges, they make a thick strip of clay and join their ends to form a ring of the same circumference as that of the mold. They place this large annular 'chorizo' on the edges of the mold and attach it to the tortilla around it; with your fingers press it up to form the walls. Then they refine their shape and match the surface. The walls are thinned evenly by scraping the outer face with the teeth of a piece of saw, while pressing with the fingers from the inner face. When you touch a finished vessel, you can feel the artist's fingers that molded it inside.