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The Kid Should See This

Mexican piñas pottery handmade with natural clay

Pedro Hernández Carlos, Isabel Cerrano and their family make intricately-decorated Mexican pottery with a mix of natural clays from the mountains just a kilometer from where they live in San José de Gracia, Michoacán. Their lead-glazed piñas artesanales or handmade pineapples (likely mistranslated as ‘pine cones’ in the video) are a well-known decorative art. Mexican filmmaker Mariano Rentería Garnica captures their multigenerational ceramic work in this video from his Mexican Handcraft Masters series. Some background on the tradition and the region from the Vallarta Tribune:

The history of glazed ceramics goes back to the colonial times. Bishop Quiroga, fondly known to the locals as Tata Vasco, or grandfather Vasco, brought the art of glazing pottery from the old world back in the early 1500s. Tzintzuntzán, the ancient capital of the Purepecha culture, was the original ceramics center, which spread throughout Michoacán. The Sierra Volcanica, famous as the home of the Monarch butterflies, is still today the home of the Purepecha people…

In the early 1970’s, a potter named Hilario Alejos moved to San Jose from Carapán, further up the valley of ‘Onces Pueblos’, where his mother, famous for her ‘Piñas’ had taught him the art. She was selling her work in Guadalajara and Morelia to use for ‘poncheras’, or punch bowls, to serve the popular ‘tepache’, a fermented pineapple beverage. The traditional style often had a row of hooks below the rim of the pot, from which hung a set of small cups.

Taking advantage of the available clay, the Alejos family and soon their neighbors, were carrying on in her tradition. The Hernandez Cerrano and Alejos families have been creating ‘piñas’ here for 40 years now.

Mexican piñas pottery handmade with natural clay
Mexican piñas pottery handmade with natural clay
Mexican piñas pottery handmade with natural clay
Mexican piñas pottery handmade with natural clay
Pedro Hernández Carlos also describes the process in this La Tienda MAP video. Automated translation is provided in CC subtitles:

Previously from the series: Abdón Punzo Ángel’s artisanal coppersmithing from scraps. Plus, watch more pottery videos and more videos in Mexico, including Golden Kingdoms: Luxury & Legacy in the Ancient Americas.

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