Clay pottery has played an important role in the social, economic and cultural development of Mexico since pre-Columbian times. The beauty of natural pottery does not rely on slips or paints but on the smooth angles of the clays shape and surface and on the unique patina and patterns generated by open air firing.
The potters begins by kneading the clay with his hands and often his feet to rid the clay of air bubbles and create a dense and firm consistency. Next using their hands, the potter builds the piece, creating perhaps whimsical shapes, pots or figures working meticulously to create handles, spouts or limbs depending upon function of the piece. The piece is left to partially dry and its surface is gently burnished. Depending upon the region, different objects and techniques are used as tools: corn cobs, stones, gourds, saw blades, plastic caps, leather, guitar strings, pieces of metal, etc.
Once the piece is completely dry, the pottery is fired in a kiln at a low temperature or burned in an open wood fire. This latter process often results in generating dark black spots on the pottery surface a hallmark of natural pottery in many regions of Oaxaca.
Once the piece is completely dry, it is burned at a low temperature at ground level or in an oven. Burning at ground level generates dark spots due to the friction of the piece with firewood or other pieces of clay burned at the same time.