Ana C. Peña Sigala and José Luis Loya Jaquez, Nuevas Casas Grandes, Chihuahua
Ana C. Peña Sigala and José Luis Loya Jaquez were born, raised and work in the town of Mata Ortiz in Chihuahua. The ceramic pottery known as Mata Ortiz originated in and is the source of work in their town. Their fathers were friends of Juan Quesada, the originator of the Mata Ortiz ceramic art form, who taught and inspired them and many other families in their town.
Ana and José Luis were children when they first started working with clay and designing the Mata Ortiz "ollas" (ceramic jar). They are the second generation of Mata Ortiz potters in their family. Five members of their family are involved in the process of creating the ollas — from finding the clay in the mountains and bringing it down via cart or donkey, to forming the clay, designing, polishing and, finally, the firing which is done the traditional way.
The local clay gathered in the mountains, is coiled and pinched (not done with a potter’s wheel) into the famous ollas To begin, a ball of clay is pressed into a round flat shape, which is called a “tortilla.” This tortilla is pressed into a bowl to help it keep the shape as the bottom of the vessel. More clay is added as a coil which is pressed into the top edge of the tortilla, then upon itself to form the walls of the vessel as the bowl is turned, which helps keep the shape and thickness even. The walls are then scraped smooth and thin (for finer vessels) with a hacksaw blade, a process called segueteando. If there is to be a lip, and extra coil is added. Then the pot is set aside and once completely dry, it is sanded smooth using a stone or deer bone with a little vegetable oil as lubricant.
After painting, the pots are fired on open ground or in pit ovens. Two or three small pots may be fired together, but larger ones are fired individually. They are set on a pile of dried cow dung and wood and if fired on open ground, covered with a large overturned pot called a “saggar.” For polychrome pots, air is allowed to circulate inside the firing chamber. If the pots are to be turned black, the chamber is sealed to keep smoke in and air out.
Ana and Jose Luis have exhibited their work nationally and have won prizes and acclaim for their work. Sebastian, their 15-year-old son, also works making the ollas.
Calle Guadalajara #5314
Nuevas Casas Grandes, Chihuahua
636 115 7128 or 606 102 6519
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