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Talavera

Talavera is the name used in Mexico for Pottery that is of the Majolica Process. Pottery is classified as a clay product to form tableware, flower pots, mugs, urns, tile and many other products.

The Majolica process simple means that all the colors are glazes.

The original Talavera techniques were introduced by Talavera potters coming to the New World from Talavera de la Reina in the province of Toledo in central Spain. Since the potters that brought this process to Mexico were from Talavera de la Reina in Spain Mexico calls this process Talavera.

Many produces and sellers call there products Talavera. However do not be fooled by the name. One of the easiest ways to identify authentic Talavera is that you can feel the raised glazes. In some cases this raised surfaces is less pronounced due to high heat which tend to melt the glazes making the surface more flat.

The reason that most producers do not use the Majolica process is because it is more difficult. It is more difficult because since it is a glaze it is very heavy and harder to produce detailed lines and shapes. Glazes are a form of glass. Minerals are mixed with fine sands or silica, feldspar, lime, soda, and other minerals. Each color has a different melting and expansion rate. Because of the different melting and expansion points mixes must be designed so that they melt and expand in harmony with each other. If the glazes are not in harmony with each other crazing or shivering can occur. Slight changes in a mix can greatly affect the expansion and contraction rate.

Crazing is fine hair line cracks which many times is difficult to see until used when the food coloring migrates into the hair line crack. Unfortunately crazing does not always occur after firing or cooling of the piece. In many cases the crazing occurs after the piece has been subject to a temperature change.

Shivering is a result of extreme expansion and contraction and the glaze separates form the body of the piece.

Many do not realize that glass is not a true solid. Glass is in simple terms a liquefied solid. All glass molecules continually moving and is under stress. Glass has a hardness factor, which is what make some glass scratch easier than others. Since glazes are a form of glass these characteristics also pertain to glazes. This is the reason that glass at times will crack or even explode when subject to heat, and at times high vibrations for what appears to be no reason.

Moisture and gases also affects glazes. Moisture comes from the clay since the clay must have moisture to be workable Moisture also is from the piece through absorption from the humidity in the air and the glazes are mixed with water. The gases come from the organic material that is in the clays. The organic material burns out and the gases escape. In the majolica process as well as other processes the temperature must be closely controlled so the moisture and gases leaves the clay body and glazes slowly. If the moisture leaves too fast blisters and pinholes form. It is not possible to eliminate the moisture prior to firing so these defects occur in all pottery but are controlled by time and temperature. In other words the blisters and pin holes will occur but heal them self based on time and temperature. Time and temperature also control the hardness and softness of the glaze.

It is because of the difficulty of controlling expansion and contraction and the higher skills required by artist to apply the colors in fine detail is the reason that the majority of the produces do not use the majolica process.


The reason for difference in color is that the colors prior to firing do not represent the colors after firing. For example before firing dark blue varies in different shades of a very pale blue, greens appear from light to dark browns (the darker the brown the darker the greens), peach colors appear as tan, browns appear as orange. The thickness of the glaze can also affects the darkness of the color. If is only after firing that one really knows what the piece will look like since the heat will also affect the colors and texture of the piece. Some parts of the oven will be hotter than others and thinner pieces will tend to heat quicker than thicker pieces. When an oven is loaded it will contain a various assortment of tableware, pottery, and tile and will be loaded differently each time.

In commercial tableware, tile and pottery pieces are generally pressed formed, machine decorated and mass produced and run through a continuous flow oven. Normally a single product is scheduled to run for a set period of time for a production run. Temperatures and speed are quickly changed is run the next product line quickly.

Manufactures who make hand made and hand-decorated products cannot produce items fast enough to justify the cost of these new ovens. It is because of these reasons that make each piece is unique, each piece different, and this process an art.






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