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Talavera Pottery from Mexico

Please note:  that we are currently NOT offering Talavera Pots (Planters) of any size - however we do stock a wide range of Talavera plates, platers, pitchers, ginger jars, and animals (frogs, lizards, etc) and suns from both Dolores Hidalgo and Puebla, Mexico. 

Talavera Pottery from Mexico at Sacramentos Zanzibar Tribal Art Gallery  Blue Talavera pottery from delores Hidalgo  Talavera from Puebla in Mexico




please note that our inventory is ALWAYS changing and we may not have specific pieces and or styles in stock at any given time.  Each of these pieces is unique and one-of-a-kind and are apt to prior sale.  These photos are just samples.

  Talavera planters, animals, fruit bowls and platters




At Zanzibar Tribal art, all our Talavera pottery is freehand painted in the village of Dolores Hidalgo by a small family operation and the beauty of this pottery lies in its individuality and unique one-of-a-kind designs.   WE CARRY TALAVERA SEASONALLY - usually March - October.  Due to the weak economy, our current selection is smaller than we've carried in the past.  If you don't see what you're looking for - ask as we may have it in our warehouse or we're glad to custom order it for you. 

Majolica (Talavera) was first developed in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. It was in use in Spain by the early 13th century and its development was heavily influenced by centuries of Moorish domination. When the Spanish conquered Mexico in the 16th century, they brought their ceramic industry with them.  Even Chinese and other cultures influenced specific designs and colors.   For a detailed article on Talavera and its history, click here




Each piece is individually molded and left to dry for eight to twelve weeks. A first firing heats the clay to 850 celcius (c). The items glazed to give them their unique shine and are then decorated with lead free pigments.  A large flower pot can take an artist up to an entire day (eight hours) to decorate!  The pottery is fired again at a higher temperature - 1050 C, to reach their final brilliance and luster. Talavera is a rustic style, and as with all handwork, small imperfections are expected, welcomed and part of their charm.


Crafting Talavera Pottery


  molded talavera


Clays are collected and traditionally mixed by foot. The clays are "aged" to a consistency that can be poured into plaster molds. The plaster helps cure the clays and draws out excess moisture. It can take anywhere from six to twelve weeks to allow the pieces to dry before they are removed from the molds. 

Traditionally Talavera pottery was (and still is in some areas of Mexico including Puebla) hand thrown, however the type of clay used requires the use of now forbidden lead-based glazes so our most of our Talavera is molded (some large pots are still created using rope and coil and others, esp. large platters, are hand thrown).  The characteristics of Talavera still ring true - the pieces are all hand painted, possess a glass-like finish and still ring true like a bell when struck.  Talavera that is hand thrown is typically much more expensive than the moldes pieces that we sell.



The pottery is carefully removed from their plaster molds, inspected, cleaned and irregularities are sanded down. The pottery is then allow to dry an additional two to twelve or more weeks prior to being fired for the first time.

The larger the piece, the longer the drying time.  Large ginger jars can take up to six months or longer to fully dry. 





The pottery pieces are carefully stacked and then placed into the kiln. for their initial (first of two) firing. The pieces are fired at 850 - 950 degrees Celsius (1562 f) in a gas fired kiln and this is known as the bisque firing and produces a typical clay color known as "jaguete."




After fully drying and being fired, the pottery is glazed. Traditionally this glaze contained lead (and still does on most Talavera that is hand thrown), however todayís glaze and mineral based pigments are LEAD FREE. This under glaze is what gives Talavera pottery its glass-like finish. To be Talavera, each piece must be struck with a metal rod and ring like a bell.

Here you can see the unglazed pot ( jaguete )on the right and the glazed pot on the left. Once the glaze is placed on the piece, any tiny imperfections such as fingerprints are carefully sanded off.

Here the designs are sketched onto the glazed pottery. No stencils are used - all the designs are hand drawn and then later hand painted with LEAD FREE mineral based pigments.

Because the pigments used to paint the designs on the Talavera are mineral based, they will NOT FADE in the sun and will last for centuries!


Carmen painting a sunflower pot

Juana painting a large frog vase


After the designs are freehand drawn using a pencil, the actual mineral pigments are hand painted using a special mule hair brush. The workshop that we purchase our Talavera from has three main painters: Carmen, Juana, and Francisco.

When fired, the glaze mineral colors change composition. Orange changes to yellow, black to green, brown to red and light blue becomes dark blue.


For a detailed article on Talavera and its history, click here


Francisco painting a vase


A completely painted and ready to fire planter!



Our friend Pepe loads the pottery that is ready for the kiln & to be fired


The pottery is fired at 1922 degrees!



After the hand painted glazes have dried, the pots are stacked and are placed into the gas fired kiln a second time. This second firing is done at a temperature of 1050 c (thatís 1922 degrees Fahrenheit!)

Once this firing is completed, each piece is inspected and is ready to sell!

The family that produces our pottery drives the pottery up to us from the village of Delores Hidalgo several times each year (a trip, door-to-door of over 3,000 miles!  At the Mexican/U.S. border, the pottery is tested for LEAD, is x-rayed and tested for drugs & explosive residue and both an EXPORT duty from Mexico is paid as well as an IMPORT duty to the USA is paid as well. 

To read a more detailed history of Talavera pottery, click here.


Finished Talavera pottery ready for your home!


Meet the family that makes our Pottery

The vast majority of our Talavera and Majolica pottery is made by three families:  The Alvarez (about 80%), Venegas and Gonzales (our Majolica) families.  We occasionally source a few interesting pieces from one or more of the dozens of family workshops in Dolores Hidalgo and other Mexican towns. 

  Great grandfather Lupe Alvarez owns the pottery workshop that produces about 80% of our Talavera. He is a fifth generation potter.
  Lupeís son Ricardo is in charge of firing the Talavera pottery in the large gas kiln and overseeing all aspects of production.
  Grandson Jose loads the pottery for the kiln and delivers the pottery to us by driving all the way in a pickup truck - over 3,000 miles!
  Grandson Fernando teaches his daughter, Paulina how to paint.  A standard artist can take up to one full day (8 plus hours) to decorate one large flower pot with the traditional Talavera design.  Fernando can, if he needs to, create up to three pots in one twelve hour day, but he usually takes his time and creates only one to two large pots per day.
  Great grandson Luis helps out
after school and on weekends.
  Painting is handed down from generation to generation in the Alvarez family.  Not everyone has the hand-eye coordination and skill to freehand draw designs on a three-dimensional pot, then be able to fill in those lines.  It takes a LOT of patience!
  Jose and Pepe drive all the way from the family's workshop in Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico to our store in Sacramento - a distance of 3,002 miles, doorstep to doorstep!  Many challenges face them coming over the border, including inspection of the pottery. 

For a detailed article on Talavera Pottery from Mexico, how Talavera is made and its history, click here

Visit our gallery March - October for our seasonal selection of Talavera Pottery!