Felipe Fabian





Decorated Pots

Plain Pots



Felipe Fabian

Felipe Fabian Pedro (Oaxaca Mexico, 1961), comes from a family of artisans, he learned the art of Black Pottery from his father. Felipe is the owner of his own family workshop and he created innovative pieces deeply rooted on the traditional technic. Some of those pieces were awarded and presented in different countries, like Guatemala (2008) and Spain (2009). In 2001-2002 he was Chairman of the “General Board of Black Pottery” integrated by 120 family workshops in San Bartolo Coyotepec.

Fabian’s black pottery workshop is associated with Women of Clay (Mubar) organization in support of artisan women. Along his carrier, Felipe did several trainings: “Tooling and working with clay” by Masatoshi Siguematsu , CIIDIR-IPN Oaxaca; “Behavior and development of high temperature furnaces” provided by Michiya Sato, ICAPET ; other related trainings by Coboachi Kitamura.

  • First place State Contest Oaxaca Ceramics, 1997
  • First place Benito Juarez prize, 1997
  • First place of Folk Art, 1993
  • Second prize Benito Juarez, 2006
  • Second place in the State Contest. 1995
  • Honorable mention in Burnished Clay Contest, 1996
  • Honorable mention in the State Contest Oaxaca Folk Art, 1996
  • Honorable mention of Popular Art, 1984
More important works:
  • Creation of “Tri-Cántaro” piece (three pieces in one), 2008
  • Creation of “Bi-Cántaro” piece (two pieces in one), 2006 award
  • Complete drilling Innovation in a traditional piece (full draft) 1985 award
  • Creation of the finished piece with leather (suede) 1986 award
  • Implementation of engraving or three flowers in fine engraving, 1997 award
  • Innovation pieces or multiple drawings in relief 1997
  • Application of two ancient and contemporary techniques pitcher of two phases. Lattice for giant lamp on and on display at the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico.
  • Contemporary piece with graffiti details
  • Contemporary pieces with “empatamiento”: rigid application of textile artist-craftsman

Currently, part of his work is on display at the State Museum Folk Art Oaxaca, San Bartolo Coyotepec


Seccion 2_San Bartolo Coyotepec

San Bartolo Coyotepec

In the south of the state of Oaxaca is located the town name San Bartolo Coyotepec. It’s part of the central valleys, along the road that leads to Mexico coast.

Coyotepec comes from 'Coyotl' Coyote 'Tepec, Cerro. This place is one of the most recognized worldwide for the development of the craft called Black Mud or Pottery.

Formerly a village of Monte Alban then called "Zoapeche", which means "Hill of clouds that hide the jaguar", belonging to the ethnic Zapotec central valleys, its inhabitants were characterized by forming groups of potters, who preserved this custom inheriting generation after generation.

This community is characterized by a high percentage of the population (80%) that is dedicated to work the black clay pottery, prehistoric occupation dating back to ancient times, and in addition to their knowledge and to develop practical and ornamental utilitarian ware, there artisans who make huge pieces of aesthetic quality.

However, the marketing of handicrafts in the city of Oaxaca has not been able to consolidate as sources of income for the producer population as artisans suffer isolation problems with consumer markets, lack of credit, technical assistance and artistic and the dedication of the craftsmen marginal, as in a case is a follow-up to the farm family and professional employment currently



Black Pottery History

Back in 1920, San Bartolo Coyotepec produced black pottery jars, vases and containers for packaging the Mexican traditional beverage called “Mezcal”. Many different sizes “Apaxtles” (round container, large, made ​​of clay, with small mouth, to carry or keep the water fresh) were also produced for local consumption as water tanks, bathtub or to store butter.

The art of San Bartolo Coyotepec became famous between the local Mexican tourism during the years 1934 and 1935; writer Paul Van de Velde, after a visit a workshop and be amazed by the quality and beauty of the products, organized an exhibition in the South West Museum of Los Angeles California, and for the first time dull grey rustic pitchers from San Bartolo Coyotepec were exhibited for first time abroad.

On 1989 a local craft market was inaugurated in San Bartolo Coyotepec, to support the artisans. And in 1996, state and federal authorities, opened the folk art museum which has consolidated the collaboration between the government and the tribal council.

However, the marketing of handicrafts in the city of Oaxaca has not been able to consolidate as sources of income for the artisans. Some of the problems they suffer are:

- Isolation problems with consumer markets
- Lack of credit
- Exclusion from technical and artistic assistance
- The tradition is losing importance between population, becoming a complementary activity for a farm family and nowadays for a professional job.



The black clay, which is extracted from places around San Bartolo Coyotepec, has special properties when baked because it becomes completely black in color which is very characteristic of this craft.

Artisans obtain the earth used to extract the clay from the mine, where a natural process and the alluvial soil forming new layers of earth, which is collected, placed under the sun and soaked for a few days (called ‘Maturation’), and finally kneaded with their feet in palm mats until the clay becomes a gummy paste, keeping it without losing its moisture for a while until it is ready to be worked.

The semi-mature pieces are protected from air so it does not crack or break, until they are ready to be scraped in order to remove their rough surface and then smooth them with a quartz stone or reed, applying immediately different shapes according artisans’ creation


The pieces are taken outdoors under the sun to be semi-heated, then they are introduced into an underground oven, where heating continues (between 700 and 800 Celsius degrees) until the pieces get a red color, then the oven is immediately covered with mud in order to reduce the oxygen ventilation, giving the pieces the black color and natural shine. The clay “cooking” process takes approximately 24 hours and it requires continuous fire.

All items that are currently produced are for decorative purposes, with the exception of small jars, still being used to bottle “Mezcal”.

A curious fact:

The villagers believe that if the mud is collected by women, the mine will not produce the material anymore. Some time ago, a woman used to remove mud, as part of her employment in the surrounding hills, but the Mayor of the town quickly asked her to stop this activity to keep the tradition alive.

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