Rigoberto Mateos Campechano, Tonalá, Jalisco
Rigoberto started as a child doing some tasks in the family workshop
and playing with clay. Later, he began to help his parents with other activities such as grinding clay and firing. He studied architecture and design in school, which has led him to try applying different designs to his work. Although there are other ceramic techniques for which Tonalá is well known, barro negro esgrafiado is Rigoberto’s chosen method.
Barro negro esgrafiado involves carving intricate designs on the clay before the piece is fired. The clay used in the creation of this technique is not black in itself, the black is an effect achieved after firing when the piece is taken out of the kiln hot and placed in a bed of eucalyptus leaves, the combustion of which turns the piece black.
This clay technique begins by mixing black and white clay. A mold is used to create the basic shape of the piece, then it is smoothed and a colored engobe is applied — an engobe is a liquid clay primarily used for brushing or spraying over greenware and bisque fired pots to give a high-quality finish, or simply used for decorating.
Next, the piece is decorated by carefully carving (esgrafiando) it by hand using a metallic puntillo (pointed tool) to capture the designs. To finish the piece, it is polished with a smooth stone — this process is known as bruñido, then it is fired in the homemade kiln.
Other members of Rigoberto’s family also renowned for working in barro negro esgrafiado are Pablo Mateos Ortega and Eusebio Mateos Ortega. He is the 6th generation of his family to work with clay. His family works together to produce the varied and unique pieces of pottery — each has different tasks but sometimes they do each other’s work. Rigoberto credits his work for improving his quality of life.
Calle Matamoros #16
Tonalá centro, Jalisco
331 021 546 WhatsApp