“El Tico” learned the trade of pottery since he was very young in La Noria and for 30 years it became his source of employment
Mazatlán, Sinaloa.- “Pure made in La Noria, not made in China “, says Alberto Renteria Osuna, better known as ” El Tico “, while he molds the clay with his hands.
He learned the trade from his father since he was very young and for about 30 years it became his source of employment. He is the third generation of potters in the artisan town of La Noria.
“Here there were several potteries, three in those days, but this has been ending, now pure technology, the work that is done right now is almost with machines,” he said.
“Since I was a child I helped my father, but I did not really like this work because it takes a lot of processes and I did not like it, over time I got married and there was no other way to make an income so I had to start pottery,” he added.
The first thing that was taught to do, remember, were flower pots and jars for water.
The process of making a piece starts from when the raw clay is obtained, it cannot be of any type, it needs to have certain and what characteristics.
“The clay needs people to know it to be able to work with it, it contains caliche, a white pebble, and if it has that, it is useless, because when the clay burns it bursts and leaves a well,” he explained.
To obtain the moldable dough you only need water, then it has to be left to rest until the next day, so it will be more compact. Mud never smells bad, it doesn’t stink, but what isn’t mud does.
For the next step, there are two options, put them in a mold, depending on the article to be made, or mold on the lathe; in some cases, it deals with both techniques.
The lathe that “El Tico” uses is one of the old ones, one that is pedaled with the foot; Despite the fact that today there are electric lathes, you do not change your wood lathe for anything.
When the clay has already taken shape, some decorations can be engraved on it, either with stamps or freehand. The piece is then left to dry in the shade for about three days. The penultimate step consists of the burning, which takes about three hours, then paint is applied to give it shine and it is dried over a fire in the oven again.
“All work, no matter how simple, has its own, its trick,” he commented.
To be an artisan is to be part of the identity of the local areas. The crafts have an aspect that makes them unique since each piece is worked separately and usually shows part of the traditions and customs of the people who make them.
However, being a craftsman also requires investing a lot of time and a larger workforce, which is not always valued by those who like to buy handicrafts, nor is there a base salary.
“El Tico” gets up very early, to make the day last because the wind and the cold are enemies of the mud; the dough dries up, it flakes and it can break. In this trade, there is nothing certain until the piece is taken out of the oven, already with paint, because in the process there may be inconveniences that are not reversible.
He makes about 120 pieces a week, depending on what is asked of him: he makes glasses, cups, plates, pots, molcajetes, flowerpots, vases, and an endless number of decorative items.
Prices vary, depending on the piece, and if it is wholesale or retail, what is certain, he says, is that you never pay what it is.
“People do not always want to pay what it is worth, but we have a need. People, the artisan, rarely value their work,” he said.
Being the third generation of his family “El Tico” has become an expert, at 55 years of age, he continues to work the clay with enthusiasm, skill, and above all with great patience.
55 years old.
30 years of being a potter.
120 pieces made a week.