Guillermo Rios Alcala
Considered to be one of the best potters in Western Mexico, Alcala originally found his love for pre-Columbian pottery at his job as a bricklayer when he was asked to repair a pre-Columbian piece found broken and unfinished. The Jalisco native honed in on the traditional techniques, making pieces almost indistinguishable from their authentic counterparts. Many of the pieces display a still-life montage of scenes from the era: women meticulously weaving, children transporting jugs of water, men hunting in steadfast groups. It is with these montages, and the infamous man-eating dog ceramic that have led Guillermo to international acclaim.
Before beginning any piece, Alcala searches out pre-Columbian pieces to draw inspiration from- usually found within museum, photographs, and archeological publications. Whether creating reproductions, or original works Alcala has a proven method. He begins in the countryside of Colima where he finds pigments are earthen materials for his clay, as well as, commercial products- paints, brushes, molds, spatulas, etc.
To begin, the earthen material is ground into a fine dust, which is then strained and mixed with water. Once wrapped with plastic, he begins taking small sections out and working them to perfection. Once it has reached the desired malleability he utilizes two techniques: molding and modeling. Molding requires Alcala carefully apply an even layer of clay over his molds, while modeling is primarily for specialty pieces. These include the production of miniature masks and human figurines, both demanding thorough and often times challenging details.
Once completely dry, he applies red paint retouching any imperfections, then employing a technique known as burnishing alfresco, a technique in which smooth stone is kept constantly moist to level the pieces. After being left outside in the shade for three to four days, they are exposed to the sun, then fired. The pieces typically spend 3.5 hours in his brick kiln. They are then delicately painted, and for pieces, such as the man-eating dog, to stay true to authentic art, bongopatina, black specks produced over lengthy periods of time, are routinely added to appear as though pre-Columbian pieces would.