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At the Ken Edwards Factory in Tonala
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A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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Last week, we went to Tonala to meet Ken Edwards, famous for the stoneware pottery that his various businesses have created here in Mexico for many decades. At first, Kelly and I heard the story of how Ken Edwards got started in stoneware in Mexico — the link takes you to that blog post, with an 11-minute mp3 file of part of the interview.

kenedwards-fabrica5After we talked, we went next door to the factory and Ken showed us around. It was evident what good relationships he had with the workers. He goes back decades with many of them.

Here, he stands in front of one of the kilns. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the details of what was unique about this particular kiln, but he had invented some aspect of it! Everything they do is reduction stoneware.

kenedwards-fabrica4The shelves (and parts of the floor) were full of pots that had been fired but not yet glazed.

The men who paint the charming designs on the pottery work together; there were about six of them.

kenedwards-fabrica2

They hold their brushes in what we would consider an upside-down position, which Ken had discovered actually works better for accuracy!

Here is one of the large stoneware pots soon to be fired again.

kenedwards-fabrica3

7 Responses to “At the Ken Edwards Factory in Tonala”


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    Janet Patterson says:

    Hello, I have an odd shaped vase from Ken Edwards but it wasn’t signed on the bottom, only a sticker…it’s from the late 80’s early 90’s…I know it’s his because my father bought 3 pieces from him. My question is…Is there anywhere in the artwork that may have his signature?

    Thanks for your help, Janet

  • Rosana says:

    Sorry, I really don’t know.

  • Cathy says:

    On all his pottery the signature is on the bottom. I know because I used to work for Victor Lepe who was an associate of Ken Edwards. His pottery was sold not only in Tonala but also in Tlaquepaque.

  • Lisa Mull says:

    Does anyone know which of the drawings is his individual “signature”? That is, cat, bird, scorpion, etc, each designate a particular potter who worked for KE. I have so many of his pieces, many from the 70’s when I lived there, but I’ve forgotten now (and of course, I was sure then that I’d remember everything!).

    Thanks!

  • RE Cowan says:

    Can the KEN Edwards pottery be put in dishwasher or microwave

  • SJC2Dominguillo says:

    Sorry, I use neither so I don’t know.

  • KenEdwards says:

    Hi Rosana. Long time no see. Aug. 30, 2019

    I am Ken Edwards and – guess what! I am still alive! I am 94 years old going on 95 and I still live here in San Antonio Palopo under the big Stoneware shop upstairs and also in Tonala. I am going to Tonala next month. I tire easily and I don’t get much work done anymore but I can still clump around the 20 Mayan stoneware shop upstairs and I manage to visit the other three ceramic shops scattered around town from time to time.

    We hire about seventy stoneware artists among the four shops.

    We keep designing new shapes and we keep expanding. This is one of the most creative periods of my life. Actually the Mayan Artists do almost all of the creating but, what the hell! I taught ’em all and I can still take the credit!

    I gave everything away to my Mayan buddies several years ago but they take very good care of me and I am enjoying one of the happiest periods of my life.

    The industrial revolution has finally hit Mexico and has driven most Mexican artisans out of business. Our shop up in Tonala is still going but is down to only about ten artists. We are still the best in Mexico but mostly we stay alive with prize money.

    There is something really weird here about this Mayan culture I live in. They are very creative and inventive, much more so than the Ladinos. They are also very, very smart, Brilliant! That can be a problem some times because a few of them are smarter than I am! (I speak here of their natural IQ that they were born with.) But they are not aggressive like Europeans and American. They are passive like Buddhists. Strange.

    So how can you cope with people who are smarter than you are? Easy, I am an ex-world war 2 soldier and I can still yell louder than they can.

    Much love Ken

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