"Because ceramics constantly evolve, we feel that our craft is far from dying out. This craft transmits the values and vision of the people who work with clay."
"My name is Rubén Tamayo and, along with my brother Juan, I make clay figures. Everything started when we were children, working at an early age because our family needed money since we were nine children. The eldest ones had to work to help with household expenses. Because of that, we started to work in ceramics at different temperatures. My brother worked on the potter's wheel while I painted. That was how little by little we created a workshop to put our skills into practice.
"Our workshop is still small and we haven't been able to employ as many people as we would like. It's difficult to see people who need to and want to work, but the lack of sales only allows us to employ our neighbors and family members.
"We've had to face a number of challenges because, from the start, we worked to create unique designs and quality pieces. We've learned that on occasion some clients have sought others to copy our designs for a cheaper price without caring about quality. We've also had to face the lack of funds to attend expositions and to have a larger showcase to sell our crafts.
"We're sure we've started down the right path, however, because this work is noble and has improved our lives. It has allowed us to enjoy more family time because some of our relatives collaborate with us. This has helped us keep up the tradition of this work.
"Ceramics have helped us become better people, better workers and entrepreneurs. Although we haven't completely reached all our original goals, working in something we enjoy and seeing shoppers' satisfaction fill us with pride. Knowing that someone values and appreciates our work makes us want to keep offering quality crafts.
"We can tell a lot of funny anecdotes. Once, when my nephews were very young and helped my brother Juan, they would wind up with clay in their little hands and faces. Another time, the person who mixes the clay wasn't able to come in and I had to do it, despite never having mixed it before. It took me about six hours to accomplish what the other man does in only an hour and a half!
"Mexico is a diverse country full of craftspeople of all kinds. In our town, many people work in clay using ancestral techniques like cross-hatched glazes, cinnamon-brown clay or burnished clay. Juan and I have also been influenced by the legendary ceramics of Mata Ortiz from northern Chihuahua.
"Our basic materials are clay and paint, which is a mix of mineral oxides and acrylics. There are plenty of local clay sources. For greater durability, we mix several kinds of clay. I prepare the mineral oxide colors myself. Our kilns are fired with wood scraps from carpenter workshops, and we even use coconut shells.
"Our designs all begin with a person who mixes the clay with his feet. Then, Juan shapes the pieces on the potter's wheel. After about six days to thoroughly dry, the pieces are fired in a closed kiln. Finally, they go to my workshop where I paint each one by hand.
"Because ceramics constantly evolve, we feel that our craft is far from dying out. This craft transmits the values and vision of the people who work with clay.
"We want our workshop to continue to grow. We hope you and many others become aware of our work and want you to know that our designs are more than clay and colors — each piece has a unique effort, experience and a history behind it."