Artesanias de Mexico – Mexican Handicrafts and Artisan Crafts
Famous Mexican Pineapple Pottery
The state of Michoacan is home to many artisans and amazing crafts. The pottery of Patamban, like no other, exemplifies the artist’s mastery of his material. Large chunks of clay are extracted from the earth using picks, shovels, and a lot of determination. This raw material is carried via pack animal back to the village workshops.
When he was just 15 years old, Bulmaro Alejos Madrigal began learning the pottery techniques practiced by his mother, Elisa Madrigal Martínez, the creator of the famous pineapples of Carapan. From the raw clay harvested in their small town in Michoacan, he creates the much celebrated “Piñas de Patamba”. Remarkable for their incredible detail, the pineapples are formed by hand and decorated with hundreds of small clay appliqués. They have various themes, like “Dia de los Muertos”, and are glazed in many colors, but are predominantly beautiful green tones.
We came to know this artist in the summer of 2000. Driving a rented Volkswagen Bug, we bounced our way around the circumference of lake Patzcuaro and headed west toward Ocumicho. Along the way, we found the Alejos family in San José de Gracia, near Patamban. They were working on huge water vessels, called “Cocuchas”, when we arrived. As we were shown the extent of their work, we found ourselves more and more enamored of the Piñas.
Taking the forms of punch bowls, towers of piñas, and candle holders, the work has been entered in many diverse competitions. Over the years, it has become ever more detailed. The elaborate work requires exceptional skill, imagination, and mastery. This art form is the main form of income for the family and they work full time to perfect their skill. There can be no argument that this is master level Mexican Folk Art.
Bulmaro’s brother, Hilario, who worked alongside of him, is one of the featured master artists in the amazing book “Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art”.