Molded by potters’ hands, clay is the essence of Mexican dinnerware.
  • There are eleven kinds of finishes for clay in Mexico.
  • Clay is fired at temperatures of 800 to 1200°C.

Barro is natural clay mixed with water that can be modeled and turned into all kinds of objects. Since the earliest pre-Hispanic times it has been used to make articles that serve to preserve or prepare food and drink. In Mexico its use has been constant.

The first step in pottery making is selecting the clay. Our potters extract it from very diverse banks of clay. It is first turned into a paste, then ground into powder and dried in the sun. Then it is sifted and mixed with water and kneaded until it is ready to be modeled.


There are two ways to model clay:

  • Modeling. The potter uses his or her fingers to shape the clay and decorate it. Then it is left to dry.
  • Moldmade. Molds are used to create the pieces. They are fired in a kiln and decorated by hand.

Once the piece has been shaped, the clay receives finishing touches. There are 11 ways to do this; the most common in Mexico are the following:

  • Appliqué. Decorative pieces of clay are stuck on the piece before it is fired.
  • Burnishing. The piece is polished with a stone before firing.
  • Slip. Clay mixed with pigments is used to coat the clay piece.
  • Polychrome. The piece is painted with colored pigments.
  • Black clay. During firing the opening of the kiln is blocked so that no air can get in. The reduction of oxygen while firing produces the black color.

The production of clay pots, pitchers, and other cooking utensils is part of the identity of Mexican gastronomy.