This large burnished Mexican pottery bottle vase was made in the remote village of Huancito by master potter Elena Felipe Félix. She is an indigenous Purépecha, living in the highlands of Michoacán. She has won many top state and national awards for her beautiful ceramics and she is featured in the 550+ page book "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art: From the Collection of Fomento Cultural Banamex," first published in 1998. Now 51, Elena has ten children with her husband Gilberto Espicio Ambrosio, also a potter, and they are teaching the children their techniques. The final (undated) photo shows her with her husband and some of her children.
Pots like this are made of locally excavated clay, kneaded, formed and baked in the kiln. They are given a coat of charanda, a brown pigment from the soil, then polished with pyrite stones and cloths. The finish on the vase appears black, but is an extremely dark brown. The naturalistic motifs include hummingbirds--a favorite of Elena's--flowers, leaves and geometric designs. She paints them freehand with a fine brush made of cat's hair, using slip, a mixture of clay and water. The intricacy and precision of the painting is superb,
The vase stands 11 1/2 inches tall, has a 27 inch circumference around the widest point of the belly (8 1/4 inches across at that point) and has a mouth 2 inches in diameter. The piece weighs just under 4 pounds and is in outstanding condition with no cracks, chips or other damage. It's fully signed with white slip on the bottom by its maker: ELENA FELIPE FELIX MICHOACAN HUANCITO and is a stunning piece of Mexican art.