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Women of Santa Maria Atzompa

Oaxaca, Mexico

Just a few blocks past the brightly colored church in the town of Santa Maria Atzompa, our artisan Rufina has created a ceramic workshop in her very own back yard. She and her family reside just a few miles outside of Oaxaca City, Mexico.  There, she works alongside her sister and other family members to turn materials of the earth into beautiful ceramic masterpieces. At the young age of 10, Rufina was taught the art of ceramics by her grandmother, and has been practicing for nearly 30 years.

In order to make her pottery, Rufina creates a ball of clay by mixing water with raw earth materials, that she digs from the ground in other parts of the country. She takes a handful of this clay, places it on top of a flat circular disk, and starts to spin it with her hands. As one arm spins the disk, her other hand starts to mold the design. This process is highly intensive and manual, but she gracefully continues without the aid of any equipment, and in a matter of minutes, she has turned a lump of clay into a work of art. 

Once the pottery has taken shape, Rufina and her fellow artisans take it to the kiln in the backyard. The pieces are then fired twice, giving them a dark grey color, and then Rufina cooks them a final time to give them the signature light brown shade of ceramics. She adds the finishing touch by glazing the pieces in an array of stunning colors.

Our collaboration mixed her age old style with modern day colors. After seeing her turn a lump of clay into beauty before our own eyes (and in minutes!), we knew that Rufina had to be a part of the Local + Lejos team.

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