Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lovely Lead-Free Ceramics

This beautiful piece was made by a pottery cooperative located in a remote indigenous village in Michoacán, Mexico called Patamban. Patamban has been a community of Purepecha Indian potters since the 16th century. The cooperative known as Alfareros de Patamban began to work as a group in 1974, but in the beginning each family worked separately in its own workshop and joined together only to sell their products. In 1984 they had developed more trust between the artisans, and decided to change their technique, which led to the high-fired, lead free product they now produce in the cooperative's central workshop. The founders are Ricardo Calderon (educated and trained in Mexico City) and his wife, Catalina Bony, who comes from a family of French ceramicists. Now many of the original founding members are in their fifties and sixties, and their children are working in the cooperative.

All of these ceramics are lead free--therefore safe to use with food-- plus they are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe. And because they are high-fired, they're strong and don't easily chip. Which can't be said for most Mexican pottery. I personally own several pieces, including a coffee mug I use every day. Heat up your coffee in the microwave? No problem. Put it in the dishwasher? Comes out great. And what a nice piece of handmade art to hold in your hand to give you pleasure and inspiration, as you go about your daily routine. Each piece is signed by the individual coop member who painted it. The design on the right was made by Maria.
The sugar bowl below (you can use it for other items as well) features a handpainted scene of the rural landscape around Patamban. It was the landscapes that first attracted us to these artisans after seeing their large dinner plates in an upscale restaurant in Morelia.
Entire sets with 6 or 8 settings are also available, plus a variety of serving pieces.
But the fish motifs are really beautiful too!

Below are more examples of beautiful serving pieces: some small snack plates and a beautiful large platter.
We'll be exhibiting these and other lead free pottery at the San Francisco Green Festival on Nov. 6-7 in the Fair Trade section, booth 534.
To purchase online or for more information go to: