We started our first day of our Aesthetyx Experience with an excursion to the talleres (workshops) of Tonala, an area outside of Guadalajara famous for all of its' workshops and factories that hand-craft everything from pottery to iron, hand-blown glass, furniture, and more! Our first stop was to see the Salazar family who has been creating beautiful hand-blown glass for the past 30 years and primarily using recycled glass to do so. Everyone was amazed at the process of how they take molten glass and shape it into everything from glasses to large esferas (spheres) while working in extremely hot temperatures. After viewing the process for themselves our group had a much higher appreciation for the products that they purchased in their store next door.
Our second stop was to visit the famous Ortega Family who are renowned for their 100% hand-crafted 'betus' technique using simple 'barro' (clay) to create the most colorful, whimsical, surreal art of imagination. This technique has been passed to 5 generations of the Ortega family, 2 of which currently run the operation - the older 'hermano' (brother) Gerardo is the 'Gerente General' and then the other brothers Oscar and Eleutario oversee production and painting. The sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces who range in age of 16-30 work in production, design, and painting. It is truly a family operation. Their home in Santa Cruz de las Huertas is one in same their taller. We were immediately greeted by a small 'perro' (dog) and then once we walked through the casa were greeted by another dog and a very boisterous 'pato' (duck) who really wanted some attention! Everyone marvelled in the process which they showed us started from the fine clay powder which they mix with water to create the clay which ends up a very dark brown color, then they mold all of the individual pieces needed to create a design and then piece them together, then the design is left to dry in the sun for 2 days, then they paint the designs and finally fire them in the kiln. We were fortunate to view the sons and nephews all sitting at a table painting everything from 'gallos' (roosters) to 'sirenas' (chickens), everyone left with a piece of Ortega to take back home.
Our last stop was to visit the Jimon Family whose work is featured in the book 'Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art'. This family has passed down the art form of 'brunido' (burnished) pottery down 5 generations and we were so fortunate to meet 3 of them on our visit. Agustin Jimon's grandparents started the family tradition and Agustin who is most likely in his 80's now has passed this tradition to his sons Florentino and Zacarias who now primarily make most of the pottery, Agustin still molds the clay into forms. The Jimons work with natural clay which they mold into everything from plates to gourd shapes to bells, ornaments, large pots, and much more. Their gorgeous hand-painted designs are done in beautiful neutral colors which feature everything from birds, fish, suns, and small snapshots of local life. We have carried their charming Christmas ornaments and bells in our store and will continue to do so this holiday season.
After a great morning of meeting amazing artisans we were very hungry and headed to lunch at our favorite restaurant in Tonala 'El Arandense' who specialize in 'mariscos' (seafood) and our favorite thing being their 'coctel camaron' (shrimp cocktail) which is very different than the shrimp cocktail we are used to in the states - it is muy delicioso! After satisfying our hunger we strolled through the shops in Tonala and then headed back to our B&B for a margarita and to get ready for dinner.
After cocktails at the bar we strolled 2 blocks to town for dinner at one of our favorite spots - Fonda Adobe, a restaurant with a menu not to dissappoint including Tuna Tacos Al Pastor to great Filets to a delicious Cinnamon Mole Chicken. Fonda Adobe is also attached to Adobe Diseno, one of the most innovative and dynamic stores in Tlaquepaque owned by creative visionary Martha Figueroa and David Luna.
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