Early in the cool morning of the last day of the tour we went to San Bartolo Coyotepec to the studio/home of Dr. Magdalena Pedro Martinez. She is a medical doctor but the draw of clay has led her to spend more time in studio and less in her medical practice. The village is famous for it’s shiny black pottery begun by Dona Rosa Real Mateo de Nieto (1900 – 1980). Her ability to make adjustments in the polishing and firing technique resulted in black pottery with a rich lustrous surface. Pieces are burnished with a stone before firing. The deep black color is achieved by reducing all of the oxygen in the earthen kiln, whereby the color of the clay changes from brown to steely black. This technique was Dona Rosa’s gift to her village.
Magdalena’s figures are built from slabs of dark grey clay, pieced together while wet and textured very finely with patterns and foliage. One of her favorite figures is the Catrina, a well-known image created by the Mexican printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada. Always wearing her large hat and boa, Catrina is an elegantly dressed skeleton.
The figures are terrific but I wanted a carved black pot, so she referred me to her nephew who has a shop in town. Below is a photo of my pot. I also purchased a carved heart and two whistles shaped like a rooster and a burro.