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About Us & The Oaxacan Connection

The Owners of Oaxacan Connection are Andy and Blythe Roberts of Sparks Nevada.

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Office Location: 45 Hercules Dr. Sparks, NV 89441 Phone: (832) 275-6348

Unique and collectible "Barro Negro" black clay pottery is meticulously handcrafted by the Zapotec Indians in a small, remote village in Southern Mexico. Exquisite and individually designed, these pieces are crafted using an ancient method passed down through generations of artisans. The technique was developed over a thousand years.

 

The Mystery

Although no one is sure exactly when this pottery was developed, experts agree that "barro negro" pottery is the creation of Zapotec Indians.

Zapotecs are relatives of the Mayans, and like the Classic Maya, they are industrious and intelligent descendants of the pyramid builders. Note: The first president of Mexico, Benito Juarez, was a Zapotec Indian.

The clay from which barro negro is derived is similar to terra cotta, although it has a mystical, chameleon-like quality. In its raw state, it is a buff/ grey color. Upon firing with wood, it becomes black. If fired with gas, it becomes a beautiful golden brown. There is reputedly one mine which hosts this unique clay and everything about the mine is kept a carefully guarded secret.

 

The Advocate

Dona Rosa, a Zapotec Indian, is credited as being the single strongest advocate of black clay pottery and developed a special technique transforming the medium into a special art form which inspires admiration worldwide.

For millennia, black clay pottery remained essentially unchanged and undramatic. Its function was basically for the manufacture of simple storage vessels. It was dull and unremarkable in its appearance.

Then, in the 1950's, Dona Rosa discovered that by burnishing the unfired clay using a quartz crystal, it produced a lacquer- like, silver glisten. This single discovery transformed the pottery into a new art form.

The walls of vases became canvases upon which the Zapotec could practice their most ancient art, carving, heretofore limited to wood and stone. The medium underwent a complete metamorphosis.

Each piece is individually handcrafted. The artisan hand molds each vase without the use of a wheel. After a lengthy drying process, it is intricately embellished with amazing patterns using sharp knives and other hand tools. Finally, it is fired in an underground, earthen kiln. This process can take up to one month and longer for large pieces.

The pottery emerged from its transformation from a pedestrian water vessel into beautiful, mesmerizing, artwork. As its reputation quickly grew, international collectors began making pilgrimages to purchase it. The new acceptance inspired an explosion of new shapes and sizes.

Dona Rosa's energy and ingenuity has made her an international icon in the promotion of barro negro. She single handedly inspired a new prosperity in her region.

Presidents and many celebrities traveled to meet her before her death. Today, Dona Rosa's descendants continue the business and the Alfararia Dona Rosa is the single largest producer of black clay pottery, although many Zapotec artisans practice the art.


The Magic

As one gazes upon the beauty of this amazing pottery, it reveals a timeless mystery. Every mark, cut and design in the filigree down to the sheen itself, is executed by hand. In this modern world of mass production and planned obsolescence, this artwork cannot be duplicated.

Note: Barro negro is only fired once therefore not applicable for exterior uses such as gardens or patios. Because each piece and style is completely handmade, the design may be slightly different from the depiction in many of the vessels with filigree. The design you will receive will most likely vary slightly from the example.  

To touch timelessness, purchase your very own mystical black clay selection.


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