My recent buying trip to Mexico felt a bit like an anniversary celebration. It’s hard to believe, but I started Emilia Ceramics right after my first buying trip to Mexico in November of 2007… That’s seven and a half years ago!! On that trip, I visited six different artists and their workshops. Since then, three of those six have become popular staples in the Emilia Ceramics collections. Not only do my customers love the work of Gorky Gonzalez, Capelo, and Talavera Vazquez, but I love working with these three family-run businesses. They are always welcoming when I visit, interested in my suggestions, and helpful in my quest for new pieces to add to the Emilia Ceramics collection.
Lucky for me, I was able to bring along my two best employees, advisers, and long-time lovers of Emilia Ceramics: My parents! They came with me on my first adventure in 2007, so it was fitting that they’d return on this, my 4th buying trip to Mexico. My parents have a lot of knowledge about art in general and ceramics in particular. They have a great perspective on what customers will appreciate and what they’ll actually use. And like me, they love interacting with the artists, understanding their techniques, and appreciating their skills.
We spent the first few nights in Guanajuato, which is one of the most colorful cities I’ve ever visited. All the buildings are painted shockingly bright colors and the jacaranda trees were in full bloom! It was literally impossible not to take tons of photos! Check out my Instagram Feed >>
One of the best parts of staying right downtown in Guanajuato, is being only a ten minute walk from Gorky Gonzalez’s studio and showroom. That’s where we went the first morning. It took me at least four hours to look through all of Gorky’s beautiful plates, bowls, pitchers, platters, and ginger jars, hand-selecting the best of the best for Emilia Ceramics! Believe me, Gorky fans, you have a lot to look forward to… the new pieces will be available soon!
After a long morning of pottery-shopping, we went out back, through the lush gardens where a few parrots were talking excitedly in their old-fashioned cages, and into the studio, where the magic happens. There were 4 painters (including Nicolo, in the above photo on the left, working to re-create an antique tile pattern), as well as a woman delicately loading the kiln for its next firing (see photo below). Gorky Jr. is pictured with me in the above photo (on the right). Gorky has learned the trade from his father and now mostly runs the business himself.
I love seeing how each piece, regardless of its size or shape, goes through all the same painstaking stages… being thrown or molded, fired, dipped in a base glaze, carefully hand-painted, and then re-fired. It is no easy task, but requires a lot of time consuming work and tons of artistic skill.
It was a fun and fulfilling first day! I went back the following day to make some final decisions and then we were off to visit Capelo… more on that visit soon!