Juan Quezada Celado

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When Celado began experimenting and eventually cultivating flawless recreations of his ancestor’s clays and colorants he was only a child. After three years of trial and error he discovered the works that could transcend the barriers of time and space and connect people far and wide. Within his process a mix of clay, sand and “grog”- roasted soils mixed with clays and ashes are utilized. His paints, on the other hand, require iron oxides for the red, magnesium for the black, and the clay itself provides a white.

It all begins by mixing various dried clays, in different proportions to achieve varying colors. The mixture is then moistened and passed through a sieve. The moist clay is set to dry, then is portioned into what he needs for any given project and leftovers for his next creation. With the sectioned off portion he flattens it into a “pancake” shape, and begins molding it to uniform dimensions and thickness.

Once the piece is molded to its desired shape it is wiped down with a sponge and set to dry while still in a mold- if a mold was used. Once fully dry, he burnishes the piece, then adds geometric and uniform designs across the piece. Once decorations have been added and dry the final burnishing takes place with a stone or deer bone to properly adhere and finish the paints.

To finish the piece it is fired by a fairly unique process: three bricks placed around the perimeter of the piece, then a metal bucket placed on top to form a dome contraption, which is then topped with a cow hide. In general, two or three pieces are fired at a time- as different temperature are required for different colored and sized pots. During the firing process the fire is suffocated with manure so as to deplete the oxygen levels, after which a chemical process occurs altering the color of the pot.