Tradition Meets Innovation: The Ceramics of Francisco

With a family history rooted in handmade pottery work, Francisco learned the tools of his trade from generations of artisans. Francisco continues to honor the work of his ancestors through his current creative practice, however he has taken the teachings of his inspired lineage to the next level by introducing unusual natural elements to his work.

After living and working for over a decade in the United States, Francisco returned to his hometown in the Oaxaca valley in order to build a new life for himself. Given his dedicated work ethic and focus on saving money, he was able to build a home for his young family—an airy venue that also serves as his ceramics workshop. 

The house sits at the top of a bumpy dirt road and features an open concept, along with large front windows that overlook his pueblo and a series of handmade kilns. Green space surrounds his home and offers a host of natural offerings which he has incorporated into his pieces. 

Organic copal and tobacco are harvested by hand on his property, with both the sap and leaves being added into clay in order to arrive at his signature pearly charcoal colored pieces. Other elements are also sourced from the grounds, along with a local mine, in order to produce a range of earthy hues—from cream to orange to black. 

Once the ceramics have been built by hand and also on the wheel, they are fired in one of his three kilns, depending on the size of the pieces. The process is in essence a contained pit firing, which sees the works added into temperatures of roughly 1,200 degrees for around an hour and a half. While this experimentation sees variation (and often surprises) in the final result, as a general rule, the longer the works remain in the fire, the more durable they become and the darker the color. Copal works emerge in midnight hues, while lighter pieces support one-of-a-kind burn marks that speak to the hand of the maker, along with the chosen process.

Given the nature of the natural elements used to create these pieces, they are safe for food service, oven, gas range and dishwasher. They are resistant to high heat and the color will not crack or fade as it is incorporated into the clay, not added in as glazed embellishments. 

Photos by Ehren Seeland.