My first Mexican bathroom sink

How did we realize Mexican bathroom sinks existed at all?

It was around the spring of 2009 – way before establishing La Tienda -, when my wife and I started thinking about renovating the bathroom of our house. All we knew was that we have had enough of the conventional, and had not wanted to see much of the ‘good old white color’ style around for sure. I can tell you: back then, we didn’t know anything about Mexican bathroom sinks or even Talavera.

We started focusing on the washbasin as one of the key elements of the bathroom. We have had a hard and long time looking for the one we would fall in love with, but it just didn’t seem to come along our way. After some hardship, we had found bathroom sinks in colors other than white, but they had all turned out to be too modern, too glassy, too glittering, too futuristic for us…We had simply missed that rustic touch, a bit of that country or folk style and some kind of fairytale magic that we had felt were the ingredients to our ultimate bathroom sink.

A light at the end of the tunnel: Mexican bathroom sink?

And then, at the brink of despair, we had suddenly remembered our backpack-trip to Central-America years ago. We had spent a fabulous time traveling through Mexico – among other countries – and we immediately had fallen in love with the culture, the cuisine, the people, their history, their architecture and – most of all: THE COLORS! Hey, that’s just what we need! So we had started to look for Mexican bathroom sinks on the internet, and soon we had discovered artisans in Mexico, who had been making just our kind of washbasins for generations, every single item a piece of art made entirely by hand.

All of a sudden, we were surrounded virtually by Talavera ceramics, and we had found that our previous problem had turned into the sweet trouble of selecting only one from a sea of amazing bathroom sinks! Well, finally we had managed to solve this problem, and had ‘merely’ to think about how to ship our newly found treasure safely from the Americas to our good old Europe.

The answer: Mexican bathroom sinks!

We have had some hardship arranging the transport, but we had finally succeeded. I can honestly tell you, that it was really worth the trouble. Not only, because our quest for the holy bathroom sink delivered us the idea to start a business that is La Tienda today, but because of the reward it gave us. Ever since, we feel like smiling when we walk into that new bathroom of ours, and never before had brushing been such an exciting experience, like it is over our colorful, sunny Mexican bathroom sink.

Talavera decorative tiles: the second skin of Mexicans

Decorative tiles of blue and white: the beginnings of Talavera

Among Talavera ceramics, traditional decorative tiles are the most prevalent. These are applied in a rich and tasteful way in all areas of Mexican interior design, and they also embellish all kinds of public places. The writer, Alberto Ruy Sanchez Lacy summed up the significance of the tiles when he called these the second, “chosen skin” of Mexican people. The first two centuries of Talavera brought about the dominance of the color white and blue, mainly because the mineral pigments needed to produce the color blue were the most expensive to procure. Therefore, this color was also used to indicate the high quality and exclusivity of the given products. The fact that the blue-white “azulejo” ceramic tiles were regarded as status symbol is well-described by a popular saying from that time in New Spain (NB: this is Mexico!). According to this, those who wouldn’t amount to anything in life would never have a “Casa de Azulejos”, i.e. a house of decorative tiles.

Bright colours, rich patterns: the Mexican (r)evolution of decorative tiles

Starting from the 1800s, bright colors and a great variety of forms were introduced in the production of Talavera, evolving it to the style known even today. Apart from maintaining the highest possible quality, these changes added another fundamental element to Mexican folk art and culture. Some of the most prevalent figures used in the decoration of Talavera products are snakes and frogs, whereas peacock feathers, sunflowers, sun and moon motifs and Calla lilies are also used in abundance.

Find your original Mexican decorative tile at La Tienda!

If you have a chance to go to Mexico, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Puebla, the center of Talavera production, where you can admire the colorful products of this centuries old tradition, as well as the masterpieces of Spanish colonial architecture. Nevertheless, should you decide to postpone your visit Mexico, we are glad to be of your service with our webstore that offers – among others – a large selection of original Mexican decorative tiles made by pottery masters from Puebla.

What is TALAVERA?

Talavera: the origins of Mexican decorative tiles and ceramics

The word Talavera refers to hand-made and hand-painted pottery (decorative tiles, vases, bathroom sinks, interior accessories) that has centuries-old-tradition in Mexico, and also describes the process of making these pottery products characterized by bright colors and rich patterns.

The word itself is derived from the name of a center for Spanish pottery art, the city of Talavera de la Reina. In the mid 1500s, the first pottery artisans arrived from this city to Nueva España, as Mexico was referred to by the Spanish colonizers. Legend has it that the Dominican monks of the ever beautiful city of Puebla in Central Mexico, resettled Spanish artisans there so they could participate in the decoration works of the Santo Domingo cathedral.

The Secret of Talavera’s Beauty and Excellence

The good monks probably never imagined the kind of success this lead to. The indigenous population, already skilled in the art of pottery, soon mastered the new techniques. Thus, Talavera, with its fusion of several Mediterranean, Moorish and Central-American Indian styles, started its world-conquering tour that is going strong even today. Talavera’s rise to global fame is not only due to the exceptionally rich colors and the unique, hand-made pieces, but also the regulations established in the late 1500s. The creation of such standards was at that time unique. It is only in the “Reinheitsgebot”, the standards for Bavarian beer brewing, that we find similar elements.

Strict Quality Control over Talavera production

Talavera regulations defined the raw materials and techniques to be used during the production, as well as the specific features of the finished products. The artisans were obliged to mark each finished product with their own brand symbol or initials in order to filter out imitations. They had to undergo an exam each year, and could only receive and/or maintain their title as Talavera pottery master if they passed. The finished products were categorized according to quality; these categories had to be indicated for the customers (fro example, on the backs of the decorative tiles).