VISITING A LOCAL POTTERY in Los Altos, VE

The entrance to the showroom of TAI Ceramico is shown on the right. It is a stone building, which is most appropriate in this lovely rural setting.

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DAVE AND I ENJOYED A WONDERFUL AFTERNOON WITH FRIENDS VISITING A MOST TALENTED VENEZUELAN POTTER IN THE HILLS OF LOS ALTOS.

BECAUSE SHE WAS ILL AT THE TIME, WE WERE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE PICTURES OF THE FINISHED PRODUCTS BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT HER PIECES WERE AS GOOD OR BETTER THAN ANYTHING I HAVE SEEN ANYWHERE. A VERY TALENTED AND CREATIVE ARTIST. HERE IS SOME OF THE HISTORY OF VENEZUELAN POTTERY AND CERAMICS.

 It was only around the 1.000 years before Columbus when the pottery associated to agriculture extended to the rest of the territory. Although the great majority of the ceramic flowerpots found in Venezuela corresponds to vessels of practical use (pots, bottles, bowls, cups, plates, budares, jars, materos, strainers, tapas and topias), the clay was also not only, for the before Columbus towns a means of artistic expression in the objects of use newspaper, but in those dedicated to the ceremonial activities. It is necessary to highlight that when referring to the prehispanic societies, it is incongruous to separate the spiritual world and the daily world.

The indigenous artists incorporated all the activities, and the symbols used in their artistic expression, generally corresponded to this vision. For that reason, it is probable that the designs used in their ceramics, including the pottery for practical use, had a symbolic value besides the ornamental one. Certain devices, as the funeral urns, etc., had a function that was highly ceremonial as well as a high aesthetic value. The clay was also used to manufacture musical instruments, pipes, toys, spindle weights used to spin cotton, records, weights for the fishing nets, etc.

In the prehispanic Venezuela the lathe and the mold were ignored, ceramic techniques that are generally associated with a massive production. Most of the before Columbus ceramic in the country was a domestic product, generally elaborated by women who taught those techniques to the following generations. It is probable that in certain cultures before Columbus, Venezuelans outstanding artisans that specialized in the production alfarera in an exclusive way arose.

The preparation begins with the selection and gathering of the clay in deposits chosen by its purity, humidity, color, etc. In Venezuela, some of the materials used with this end are: sand, crushed stone, milled shells, milled flowerpots, fibers, burnt barks, caraipé, a rich ash in silica coming from the bark of certain trees of the Rosy family and the esponjilla of sweet water. The type of elected desgrasante for the potters largely depended on the readiness of materials.

The employment of milled shells, for example, was more common near the sea. The sponge of sweet water whose silica offers to the artisan different advantages, is only in the riversides of certain rivers, although it could arrive to other areas through the trade nets. It has been suggested that in Venezuela the elaboration of a ceramic piece was made by means of the modeling one direct of a clay piece and through the superimposición of clay buns, united until reaching the wanted form that is so prevelant in the ceramics of today.  

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Dave is shown above with our friend Carol, who is standing in the doorway to the show room. Pictured on this page is the clay, below right, some molds - below - and the firing plates - on the bottom line. Above are the tools used by the local Venezuelan potters.

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