Juan Gutierrez is the son of Herlindo Gutierrez, and a three-time winner for 1st place in a prestigious ceramic competition for his gorgeous and painstaking Michoacán pottery. Such pieces are made by first extracting large chunks of clay from the earth and brought back to the village. These chunks are the raw material used in the making of his renowned pineapple pots with intricate details and their trademark luminous green glaze.
To begin with, the piece of clay is cleaned, ground, and sifted. It is then wet and formed into a “pancake” before it is molded. After molding the form of the pot, the structure is elaborated by adding appliqué work that gives the piece its realistic textured “skin.” This process takes tremendous patience and skill, as each tiny detail must contribute to the overall harmony and symmetry of the piece.
It is then placed inside the workshop to dry and protected from any currents of air. Later, the drying process is completed outside in the sun and fired in an open kiln. After the piece has cooled, the surface is hand-painted with a preparation of lead oxide or copper dissolved in water that will give the piece its shiny glaze. It then very carefully receives its last firing.
The shine, delicacy, and overall artistry of Michoacán pottery is impressive and inspires awe in art lovers everywhere. The immeasurable amount of work that is required to create each piece is evident and worthy of admiration.
Juan, his wife and store owner Marcia Lucas
Juan and his wife in front of their home in San Jose de la Gracia Michoacan