Women of the Red Clay
San Marcos Tlapazola, Mexico
Artisans in Group
- Red Clay
Macrina is infamous in Oaxaca and around the world for her incredible red clay work. In the 1980s, as industrialization crept in and slow-crafted, handmade pottery began to be replaced by cheaper materials and faster techniques, the younger generation of artisans decided to expand outside of the traditions of previous generations. The then 18-year-old Macrina Mateo began to travel outside the village to learn how to adapt their goods and practices to reach new markets interested in the history and distinct aesthetic of red clay. Today the village is thriving and the ‘Women of the Red Clay’ are known worldwide for their unique offerings.
In the small Zapotec village of San Marcos Tlapazola, women have been making pottery out of red clay gathered from high in the surrounding mountains for twenty generations. Using their hands (not a wheel) and tools such as pieces of smooth leather, corn cobs, and a deconstructed basketball as a pottery wheel, the women have traditionally made comales (flat griddles usually used to make tortillas) and cazuelas (fire and oven safe covered dishes for stews). We don’t design these products - they are purchased directly from the workshop and are their own designs.