Natalio Chichipan Estrada, Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán

Natalio Chichipan Estrada, Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán

A native of Michoacán, Natalio Chichipan Estrada has his studio along the main road leading to Tzintzuntzan, a town in the center of the well-known folk art of Lake Patzcuaro. Now 65 years old, Natalio has been working with clay since he was a child. At 40 he entered a piece of his work in a contest, winning first place and was surprised when he won First Prize. He has been winning awards ever since.

He works in various forms of ceramics. Three types of his creations will be shown at this Fair: burnished clay in pieces in the styles of black and white and high temperature ceramics. The designs come from his imagination and memories of the Purépecha culture that dominates this area of Michoacán.

Natalio uses different types of clays for the variety of ceramics he creates. The clay is obtained from the surrounding hills and brought to the workshop, where it is mixed in the right proportions to make it strong and flexible enough to resist humidity and heat. After the pottery is formed and has gone through various stages of drying and firing, slight surface irregularities are removed by polishing them with a river stone, before decorating the piece.

Creating a piece of folk art is not only a livelihood for the artisans, it is a way of life that is passed from generation to generation. When asked how many generations pottery work has been in his family, Natalio said he did not know "Many generations, many," was his response. As usual, his vocation is a family affair. His nine children all participate in some part of the process that generates the amazing shapes Natalio creates.

Calle Zaragoza S/N

Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán

434 344-3267 (daughter Julia)