I’m listing my first “Tonalá” style pottery from Mexico.
It is a beautiful little bird — I believe it’s a quail.
Tonalá is actually a city in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, and a municipality within the Guadalajara Metropolitan area.
It is known as a major handicrafts center, specializing in pottery.
I’ve seen listings for Tonala style pottery signed with the initial KE for Ken Edwards. I’ve also seen Etsy and EBay sellers referencing a Ken Edward or Jorge Wilmot piece.
So, who were Jorge Wilmot and Ken Edwards?
Although Mexico has a long history of making ceramics — well before the arrival of Spaniards — more modern techniques and methods of production were introduced by the Spanish during colonial times.
And in the 1950’s and 1960’s, high-fire production were introduced by Jorge Wilmot and Ken Edwards, which is why you will see their names associated with pottery from the Tonala region of Mexico.
It was easier to find information on Jorge Wilmot, as he was a well-known Mexican artist. He was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico in 1928 and died in January, 2012 at the age of 83.
Jorge Wilmot studied i n Paris, then worked in Sweden and Switzerland before returning to Monterrey, Mexico.
A little about him, excerpted from a Wikipedia article:
Wilmot’s two main contributions to Mexican ceramics were the introduction of high fire ceramics such as stoneware and blending of traditional Mexican designs and motifs with international and modern influences.
He is quoted as saying “La cerámica de las artes es una de las más antiguas y a su vez de las más modernas” (Ceramics is one of the oldest and most modern art forms.) referring to the need to preserve tradition and modify it.
Wilmot combined pre-Hispanic designs and motifs with modern elements as well as international influences, especially those from Asia.
CONACULTA credits Wilmot with revolutionizing ceramics production in Mexico and establishing the production of high-fire wares, principally in Tonalá.
He has been one of the forces behind Tonalá’s current dominance in pottery and ceramics.
Note: CONACULTA is the National Council for Culture and Arts, a Mexican Government Agency
I will add more to this blog post when I have information about Ken Edwards (I am unsure if he is still living and continuing to make pottery in Mexico or elsewhere — please comment and/or send a link if you know).
The particular Tonala bird pottery piece I am listing is signed “Solis Mexico” at the bottom.
I’ve read on a few listings that Solis is the family name of well known (and well regarded) potters from the area, but not much more than that…
I did find that there is a Solis / Tonala tile piece at the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, California — Tile with Two Birds and Flowers.
Here is the text for the above piece, from The Mexican Museum website:
And here is back angle photo of the bird pottery on my Etsy store:
You can click on the bird photo above to see the Etsy listing.
I think the colors and artwork style of the bird look very similar to the museum’s tile ceramic… what do you think?