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R. Berrocal S.A.C. - Pottery

Chulucanas, Peru

- Chulucanas Pottery

Berrocal works with potters located in the northern Peruvian town of Chulucanas, near the middle point of the Puira River.  The population of the town is approximately 100,000.  The people of Chulucanas wear large straw hats, loose clothing and transport their goods on simple carts pulled by donkeys. But then again these are the typical characteristics of all the towns in the Plura Valley.  What is distinctive to Chulucanas is its pottery which uses round shapes; dark, glossy tones; sculpted and painted with scenes and motifs that depict the lives of the coastal towns in northern Peru.  The potters are also creating and using contemporary designs in their work.  This unique and contemporary looking art is handcrafted utilizing techniques over two thousand years old.

Chulucanas pottery is created through a multi-step process.  First, the piece is formed using several techniques: padding, rolling, tableting and using a wheel or an extruder. Once shaped and in a leathery state, the piece is painted with a slip made from clay and pigment.  Then comes one of the most important steps in the process: the burnishing or polishing which includes rubbing the entire visible surface with river stones of several forms and sizes to obtain a fully satin and homogenous surface.   This operation is repeated three times and requires great skill so that the piece will not be damaged or cracked. Once dry, the pot is stacked in the wood-fired kiln and heated to a temperature of approximately 700 to 900 degrees centigrade.

The next stage is the decoration, or slips casting, in which liquid clay is used to cover the areas that are to be kept intact, while the areas the potter wishes to darken are left uncovered. This method is known as "reverse."   The decorated piece is then loaded into the smoke kiln where burning mango leaves will produce smoke that will darken the piece.  A resin is also applied that adheres to the pot giving it the characteristic brillance of the Chulucanas style.  This firing is done two or three times until the desired shade of brown or black is obtained.  The pieces are then cleaned to remove the slip and a final finish wax is applied to highlight the impeccable satin characteristic.  When completed, each item is signed by the artist who created it. The finished pieces are transported to vendors warehouses by carts pulled by donkeys.


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