Reyna Simon Lopez was born in San Bartolo Coyotepec in Oaxaca, Mexico to descendents of the Zapotec people of South Mexico. At age 6, Reyna began carefully learning from her parents the traditional techniques of crafting black pottery. By age 14, Reyna dominated the step by step process and began infusing her own creativity into the craft. In time, Reyna learned and created new methods of perfecting the beautiful black Oaxacan pottery. She has mastered an elaborate process which is reflected in each one of her creations. Reyna has more than 40 years of knowledge and experience which she applies to her collections. Reyna is now the teacher, as she is instructing her children to become skilled potters.
As a recognized talent, Reyna continues to create each piece of pottery by hand from start to finish. Each piece of black Oaxacan pottery is signed, dated, and thoughtfully crafted. Obtaining a beautiful piece of pottery from the Reyna Simon Lopez collection is an investment that will enhance your décor and will help preserve an ancient pre-Hispanic art form.
The making of black Oaxacan pottery begins with the gathering of clay located near the village of San Bartolo Coyotepec. The clay is dried in the sun for four days, then rewet and re-dried for three more days. The artisan then kneads the clay with their fee. The clay is then rolled into a straw mat forming a log shape. The clay shaped log is placed in the sun for one more day of drying. The clay log is then sectioned and molded on the rudimentary potter’s wheel. The molded and carved piece is placed in the sun to bake. The piece is then burnished with certain stones which produces the familiar shine on the pottery. The piece is then placed in the wood fired ground kiln for eight to ten hours. During the firing process, the oxygen starved fire results in a stark black piece of pottery. After firing, the piece is washed and dried. This entire process takes approximately 25 days.
The symbols on black Oaxacan pottery have significant meanings. The flowers and trees represent vegetation of the community. The punched holes represent corn. The diamond shapes represent the rainy season and the points represent stars. Above all, the sentiments and ideas of the artisan goes into each one of her pieces.