Barro Negro

Artisans’ hands reflect its legacy in every
piece they create.

Barro Negro is produced in San Bartolo Coyotepec in the state of Oaxaca, where pottery passed from generation to generation has always been a tradition. Around 95% of the inhabitants are dedicated to this craft. It is highly appreciated in Mexico and internationally. Oaxaca is widely known for rescuing ancestral crafts. Rich in celebrations, rites, music and art, it reflects its roots onto its present culture. Barro Negro means black clay. It is distinguished by its dark black color and sheen. Its origins extend as far back as the Monte Alban period, examples are still found at archeological sites. Up to this time it is being shaped in the same way the ancient Zapotec used to do. The process of Barro Negro starts by combining previously cleaned earth with water, creating clay. This is molded by hand or poured into a mold, and then left to form for a couple of minutes, after this, the piece is set to dry in well-insulated rooms, which protects them from sudden changes in temperature. The piece is then fired and smoked in underground pits, using wood fires. The heat will rise between 700 °C and 800 °C. After a couple of hours, the piece is then removed from the smoke and heat. Every piece takes around 20- 30 days to complete. An important factor which reinforces its dark appearance is the earth used, which is found in San Bartolo Coyotepec. Its natural color is of a dark tone. Even though the original process has been maintained over centuries, it was in the 50´s that some changes were implemented. The firing process was shortened compared to the traditional method and the pieces started to be polished when the clay was still wet. Compressing the clay just before going into the fire. After firing, all these components are reflected as a rich black color, and the piece emerges shiny black instead of grey matt. Barro Negro is noble, sober, minimalist with a beautiful glow. Its connection to ancient processes and its raw materials make it an honest pottery which continues to amaze. Within its smooth dark texture, it carries years of tradition, representing craft, in every step of the process. Born and transformed from the earth.

This clay is poured into a mold, and left to form for a couple of minutes, the piece is then set to dry in well-insulated rooms, which protects them from sudden changes in temperature.

The piece is then made wet on the surface and rubbed with tools to compress the clay.

The strongest characteristic Barro Negro has is its rich black color, which makes it unique. This evolves mostly during the firing process, when the smoke gets impregnated into the piece and intensifies its natural greyish tone.

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