Handcrafted ceramics in Mexico
"My parents taught me to enjoy the small moments in life like preparing the clay and savoring its smell and texture. I find the entire process entertaining.""I was born in Oaxaca in 1977. I consider myself to be kind, responsible and respectful. At first, I worked in ceramics on the side to make a little extra money. Once I mastered the craft, I began earning more but had to invest more time in it. So I decided to quit my job and spend all my time on ceramics.
"My parents taught me to enjoy the small moments in life like preparing the clay and savoring its smell and texture. I find the entire process entertaining. My love for handicrafts has played a vital role in this learning process.
"I gradually developed my own designs by experimenting and trying new techniques. I also took the advice of shoppers who brought my work. I'm very demanding of myself and am open to constructive criticism because I believe you never stop learning.
"I remember how, at first, I'd offer my ceramics to retailers and give them a price, but they always wanted to pay me less than half. This made me very sad because I knew they were worth more because of all the effort and dedication I'd put into them. Sometimes, I had to accept the offered price because it was the only way to bring in a little money and, at the time, my youngest daughter was sick with broncho-pneumonia. Every little bit I earned went to pay for medical expenses. Thank God she recovered and, with the new designs I'm making, things are going well for me.
"My work has made me a lot more observant. I'm inspired by everything that surrounds me and, without a doubt, my family is my biggest motivation. I work with my sister, my wife and daughters. My wife and my sister prepare the clay mix and my daughters etch designs and perforate the centers of the flowers and stars. I do the designing, cut out the motifs and fire the pieces in the kiln.
"I use clay, a manual potter's wheel and white engobe. First, we dig the clay ourselves or buy it in lumps. We then pound it with a wooden club and sift it to obtain a powder free of pebbles.
"We also use a black clay from the lagoon, which must be dissolved in water and passed through a sieve to remove small stones and foreign objects. We mix both kinds of clay to craft our designs. Most of the tools I use are recycled, like bottle lids, empty pens and knives made from hacksaw blades.
"I have three daughters and I'm teaching them to work in clay so that this tradition isn't lost. I don't like to feel rushed in my work, and I tell my daughters, 'When you create a piece, do it well. It doesn't matter how long it takes, but do the best you can.'
"What I most enjoy about my craft is that I can create designs and express myself freely. I manage my own work schedule and am my own boss. I can earn a living and, best of all, I work alongside my family.
"I've participated in competitions and I remember one from 2012 that makes me laugh. In my hometown, a competition of ornamental and green clay ceramics was organized by the municipal government. I didn't think I'd win and, to take advantage of time, I went shopping for construction materials I needed. When I got home, I was told that people had tried to call me to tell me I'd won the competition. I ran over, but the award ceremony was over. After that, I knew I had to have more confidence in myself and my work.
"Whenever someone buys my ceramics, I tell them they are from Oaxaca, and that they can find an infinity of pieces and designs here in this region."