If you go into nearly any Spaniard’s home, and certainly any of ours here in the USA, you’ll find Talavera ceramics decorating various spots throughout the house. There’ll be a few decorative plates hanging in the breakfast area, maybe a few candy trays on the coffee table, a water pitcher or two in the dining room, and other colorful dishes sprinkled around for good measure. Talavera is so commonplace in Spanish homes, in fact, that one might think there’s a law mandating it.
Here at The Spanish Red, we simply love these things.
The problem, however, is that with popularity – and a massive tourist trade – what was once a centuries-old Spanish artisanal craft has become mass market. Talavera plates are now made in large factories, machine stamped – even mass produced in other countries! – and sold in every Spanish souvenir shop on the planet.
And as you can imagine, here at The Spanish Red we certainly don’t like that. We demand the good stuff.
So we set out on a quest to find authentic, old school, superbly hand-crafted Talavera ceramics like those we grew up on. We enlisted our families, friends, researched far and wide and eventually we found it: Ceramica Artistica Adeva.
Ceramica Adeva is a family business owned by two brothers Pablo and Javier Adeva. Ceramic craft runs deep in the Adeva clan. Pablo Adeva Martín, the family patriarch born in 1931, was a master artisan who studied and apprenticed at the famed Ruiz de Luna school from 1945 to 1961. In 1975 he achieved national fame when he won the National Prize for Ceramic Artistry.
From the day they were born, Pablo and Javier worked alongside their father in the family shop, learning every aspect of the craft from the master himself. In 1981, the brothers opened Ceramica Adeva.
Their workshop is impressive: consider that every item in there is designed, painted and produced by Pablo and Javier themselves. With the help of a few assistants, the workshop is literally based on the prodigious talents of two individuals.
The range of items they make is amazing as well. For example, they make great everyday items like coffee and tea cups. They also make dinner and desert plates. They have countless pitchers, jars and dishes, and a wide assortment of smaller decorative items also.
But what really sets Ceramica Adeva apart are their showcase pieces. These are individually designed, hand-made and effectively unique items: by definition, no two are exactly identical. These tend to be larger, more sophisticated pieces, like 20″ diameter decorative plates or 24″ high urns known as amphoras. Many of these are spectacular.
For their showcase pieces, the Adeva brothers meticulously employ old world coloring, glazing and baking techniques. It can take a full day or more just to paint one plate. No detail is spared: the pigments, brushes and application methods are just like they were hundreds of years ago.
As Pablo told us, when they pour themselves into making one of these special pieces, it’s not about running a business. It’s about making art.
They typically start with a traditional design such as flowers, a horse, or maybe a deer in a rustic scene. They paint the outline then color in the main areas. They lean their hand against a vertical pole to keep steady. With a foundation in place, they add embellishments and variations to dress up the basic themes.
From there, they’ll often improvise entirely new design elements and motifs. They’ll also combine elements in strikingly new ways, such as surrounding a traditional figure with a daringly styled, bold-colored border. When it’s all finally done, they’ll often end up with distinctive, dramatic original compositions.
We’ll be visiting Ceramica Adeva again in mid-April, and we’ll be sure to post more about them soon. In the meantime, take a look at the Ceramica Adeva Boutique in our online Shop – there’ll be much more to come in the Spring!