There was, for a short span of time, a period in which John and I walked around like " experts " trying to find the next item that was going to blow all records on The Antique Show.
I can remember ( like it was yesterday ) going to a flea market and finding a plate....................with markings on it that made it quite desirable ( can't remember what the markings were LMHO ) but it was a couple of dollars.
The seller was a small skinny man - with no teeth - tattoos all over the place - weathered - he looked like an old sailor................
John ambled up to him and offered him a dollar for it..................very nonchalantly
DO YOU THINK I'M AN IDIOT ? the man screamed in his face
DO YOU THINK I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS IS? getting louder by the minute
I WOULDN'T SELL THIS TO YOU IF YOU WERE THE LAST BUYER ON THE PLANET NOW
the man continued.
John went as red as a beet.......................and we shuffled off.
But at another booth I spotted the cookie jar.
Suzan says - I'LL take care of this one -
Suzan says - You just keep insulting everyone
John says - DO NOT PAY WHAT THEY ARE ASKING.......................
Suzan says - I'm not an idiot !
It was 10 dollars............................
I asked if he'd accept 8.00
NO WAY - the seller told me - it's 10 dollars - and I immediately agreed to pay the asking price...................
John laughed for days over my bargaining skills.
But guess what?
I got the cookie jar and John didn't get his plate - which proves beyond a doubt ( in my world ) that he who laughs first........................
Most of my kitchens have been black and white - or grey and white - but he's been bringing color into them for the last 15 years.
His name is Topo Gigio.( named after my favorite part of the Ed Sullivan show as a little girl )
Did I mention what was on his underside?
I printed this out many many years ago and don't have the source..............but
THE ART OF TALAVERA
CERAMICS HAVE BEEN USED AS A FORM OF EXPRESSION BY THE HUMAN RACE DURING MORE THAN 2500 YEARS. ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDIES CONSTANTLY FIND IN ANTIQUE CERAMIC OBJECTS IMAGES PORTRAYING THE ANSWERS TO MANY QUESTIONS REGARDING CULTURE, ART, SOCIAL RELATIONS, RELIGIONS AND THE BASIC LIFESTYLE OF CIVILIZATIONS LONG GONE.
IN GREECE, EGYPT,CHINA, THE MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES, SPAIN, GERMANY, ENGLAND, PORTUGAL, ITALY AND AMERICA, HISTORY HAS BEEN PORTRAYED ON CERAMIC OBJECTS THROUGH DIFFERENT SHAPES, COLORS AND TEXTURES WHICH SHOW US TODAY WHAT OTHERS DID THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO.
EVERY SOCIETY HAS FOUND SOME TYPE OF CULTURAL INFLUENCE FROM THE PAST WHEN LOOKING INTO THEIR CERAMIC HEIRLOOMS.
TALAVERNA POTTERY IS A SYNTHESIS OF VARIOUS INFLUENCES AND BEARS SIMILARITIES BETWEEN HISPANIC-ARABIC AND MEXICAN ART. SPAIN, ITALY AND CHINA, WHICH IMPLIES A FIVE-FOLD CROSS-BREEDING AND TESTIFIES TO THE MULTIPLICITY OF PEOPLE AND CULTURES THAT HAVE COME TOGETHER IN MEXICO.
FROM GREECE TO CHINA, FROM CHINA TO THE MIDDLE EAST, FROM THE MIDDLE EAST TO SPAIN, AND FINALLY FROM SPAIN TO MEXICO, THE WORLD REKNOWNED TRADITION OF THE ART OF TALAVERNA HAS REMAINED IN THE CITIES OF DOLORES HIDALGO, GTO AND PEUBLA FOR MORE THAN 400 YEARS.
ONCE IN MEXICO
BETWEEN 1550 AND 1570 A NUMBER OF POTTERS ARRIVED IN PUEBLA, MEXICO FROM THE SPANISH CITY OF TALAVERA DE LA REINA. THANKS TO THE INTENSE COLONIAL TRADE THAT PUEBLA MAINTAINED WITH MEXICO CITY AND OTHER CITIES AND MINING CENTERS IN MEXICO DURING THE 17TH CENTURY, TALAVERA CAME INTO WIDE USE AND ACHIEVED A RAPID EXTENSIVE DISTRIBUTION REACHING ALMOST EVERY CORNER OF MEXICO.
BY THE 18TH CENTURY, WORKSHOPS BEGAN EVOLVING INTO ACTUAL FACTORIES, INCLUDING A MASTER POTTER, ARTISANS AND APPRENTICES UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE OWNER, WHO WAS OFTEN THE WIDOWED WIFE OF A MASTER POTTER WITH THE HELP OF CRAFTSMEN AND SERVANTS.
BUT JUST AS DISTRIBUTION WAS SOMEHOW RELATED TO THE EXPANSION OF INTER-COLONIAL COMMERCE, ITS SUDDEN DECLINE IN THE LATE 18TH CENTURY CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE END OF THE COLONIAL SYSTEM, WHEN THE WIDE USE OF TALAVERA WAS DRAMATICALLY REDUCED BY IMPORTED GLASSWARE MANUFACTURED IN EUROPE.
TODAY, THE CRAFT IS PERPETUATED BY INDIVIDUAL FAMILIES OF MASTER SKILLS, STILL PERFORMING AGE OLD RITUALS, WHOSE TECHNIQUES HAVE BEEN PASSED DOWN THROUGH THE CENTURIES.
TALAVERA IS CRAFTER THROUGH A PROCESS REQUIRING 2 FIRINGS, WHICH PRODUCES THE UNIQUE COLOR AND SHEEN CHARACTERISTIC OF THE POTTERY. EACH PIECE IS HANDMADE. THE COMPLEX PROCESS TAKES 4 TO 6 WEEKS FOR EACH PIECE. UNFORTUNATELY, TALAVERA COARSE IMITATIONS HAVE PROLIFERATED AND THERE ARE ONLY A FEW WORKSHOPS IN MEXICO, ALL LOCATED IN PUEBLA, WHICH CAN OFFER AUTHENTIC TALAVERA POTTERY MADE ACCORDINGLY TO THE CRAFTMANSHIP LEGACY. TRADITIONALLY, THE ART OF TALAVERA HAS BEEN RELATED TO CERTAIN SPACES: THE KITCHEN, THE INTERIOR OF THE HOME, EXTERIOR WALLS, CUPOLAS, THE FACADE CHURCHES, THE CONVENT AND RELIGIOUS SCULPTURE.
( AND IT ENDS WITH )
THE FINISHED TALAVERA PRODUCT IS A HAND-PAINTED WORK OF ART TO BE CHERISHED FOREVER.
And while I have no illusions that this may be the " real " thing - I love knowing the history of the " real " thing - and things don't have to be priceless to be priceless after all.
I love my Topo Gigio.................he made it all the way from Mexico to Montreal - which is where he'll stay for a very very long time - taking a siesta on my counter
And I do - and in fact will - cherish him forever.
Have a wonderful day everyone !
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