Another purchase I made whilst in Mexico recently was this gorgeous little pottery hen! It's a salt bowl made from burnished black pottery, handcrafted by four different family-run pottery workshops in the town of San Bartolo Coyotepec Oaxaca.
The dark ebony colour is due to the uniqueness of the clay in the region and its firing process. The clay is extracted and then cleaned of impurities by soaking it in water. This can take up to a month. Each piece is then created by hand molding on a flat surface, and then left to dry in a well-insulated room to protect them from sudden changes in temperature. Drying can take up to three weeks.
Once dry, the pieces are burnished (where the surface is lightly moistened and then rubbed with a quartz stone) which compacts the surface and gives it a metallic sheen and dark colour during the firing process. The pieces are then fired in a kiln using an atmospheric reduction technique which means that minimal amounts of oxygen are permitted into the kiln. This modifies the colour and gives it a deeper, richer texture.
How lovely to have such a beautiful hand crafted object in my home that has been made so lovingly by artisans in Mexico. I will think of it every time I reach for the salt!