Barro Aprobado Lead-Free Potter Wins Prize – Q&A With Doña Rosario

Congratulations Doña Rosario!

The talented potter, who is part of the Pure Earth Barro Aprobado program, was awarded 1st place in the national ceramic prize competition that aims to promote the preservation of the traditional techniques and designs of Mexican pottery.

Rosario’s winning entry is a beautiful clay rice platter decorated with reliefs and flowers. It is a a vibrant expression of a 500-year-old craft practiced to perfection. The only difference–the piece is lead free!

In fact, all of Rosario’s works proudly carry the Barro Aprobado seal that certifies that they are made without the use of toxic lead glazes.

Pure Earth’s Barro Aprobado project is raising public awareness about the dangers of leaded pottery and promoting the use and production of lead-free pottery.

Traditional leaded pottery can be found in many homes and restaurants across Mexico. Lead poisoning from consuming food cooked in or served on leaded pottery is responsible for much of Mexico’s national lead poisoning problem.

Pure Earth launched the successful Barro Aprobado program in Morelos state, where Rosario lives and work.  She is among a group of skilled artisans who have gone lead free with Pure Earth’s help. These forward-thinking artisans are setting an example for other potters and consumers, showing them that beautiful, high quality pieces of pottery can still be made the traditional way, but using lead-free glazes.

Now Pure Earth is working with local partners to expand the Barro Aprobado program beyond Morelos state. HSBC, for example, is supporting Barro Aprobado with their “Adopt a potter” program to help artisans like Rosario grow their business.

We spoke with Doña Rosario to hear her side of the story. (Scroll below to read the interview in Spanish)

How long have you been doing pottery?

I’ve been working the clay for more than 30 years.

What do you enjoy most about being a potter?

I like it, because it is the way and the opportunity in which potters and artisans can apply our ideas to a piece, whether utilitarian or decorative.

What was the main reason for you to participate in the national competition?

I almost always complete but only at the state level. This year, I said let’s go for more. We decided to make our work known beyond the state level.

Why did you decide to put Barro Aprobado seal on your pot?

So that people can identify that our country produces quality pottery and that it can cross borders.

What does it feel like to be the winner of a national pottery award?

Much joy to know that people will know us little by little.

What benefits have you found in your sales, when making lead-free pottery?

That our work has a higher appreciation and that despite being a craft, it has a more value as it goes to a broader market.

What would you tell potters and consumers to invite them to make and consume lead-free pottery?

I invite, artisans and potters, not only from Tlayacapan, but from other regions, to encourage them to make the change, and work with lead-free clay. Do not miss the old technique of producing this art. Nothing is lost. We work the same way, only that our pieces have a better level of quality, both for us as producers, and for people who use our pottery.

How has your health improved since switching to lead-free materials?  

We are all healthier, my grandchildren are no longer in danger of high blood lead levels.

How do you think winning the prize will help increase awareness about the importance lead-free pottery.

Well, they will see that we already exist–potters who are concerned about the health of the people, and that we are already being recognized.

Why do you think that some of your peers (other potters) are not making the switch to go lead free yet? 

They lack awareness to know that we can make a difference in the health of people nationwide. But once they see how well we are doing by going lead free, they may embrace Barro Aprobado too.


Interview in Spanish

¿ Desde hace cuánto tiempo se dedica a la alfarería?

Trabajo el barro desde hace más de 30 años.

¿Qué es lo que más disfruta de ser alfarera?

Me gusta, porque es la manera y la oportunidad en la que los alfareros y artesanos podemos aplicar nuestras ideas a una pieza, ya sea utilitaria o decorativa.

¿Cuál fue la principal razón para participar en el concurso nacional?

Casi siempre lo hago pero nada más a nivel estatal, y esta año dije vamos por más, vamos más allá del Estado para dar a conocer el trabajo que hacemos

¿Por qué decidió poner el sello de Barro Aprobado en su cazuela?

Para que la gente vaya identificando que en nuestro país se produce alfarería de calidad y que puede cruzar fronteras.

¿ Qué se siente ser la ganadora de un premio de alfarería a nivel nacional?

Mucha alegría de saber que la gente nos va a ir conociendo poco a poco.

¿ Qué beneficios ha encontrado en sus ventas, al elaborar alfarería libre de plomo?

Que nuestro trabajo tiene una categoría más elevada y que a pesar de ser una artesanía, tiene un valor más importante pues va para otro tipo de mercado.

Qué le diría a los alfareros y consumidores para invitarlos a consumir alfarería libre de plomo.

Los invito compañeros artesanos y alfareros, no solo de Tlayacapan sino de otras regiones, para que se animen a hacer el cambio, a trabajar con esmalte libre de plomo nuestro barro, no se pierde la técnica ancestral de producir esta artesanía, no se pierde nada, seguimos trabajando de la misma manera, sólo que nuestras piezas tienen otro nivel de calidad, tanto para nosotros como productores, como para la gente que consume el barro.

¿Cómo ha mejorado su salud desde el cambio a materiales sin plomo?

Ya todos estamos más sanos, mis nietos ya no corren peligro de subir sus niveles en la sangre, aparte de que hemos tenido más ventas.

¿Cómo cree que ganar el premio ayudará a aumentar la conciencia sobre la importancia de la cerámica sin plomo?

Pues que vean que ya existimos alfareros que estamos a favor de la salud de las personas y que además ya estamos siendo reconocidos.

¿Qué piensa de que algunos de sus compañeros (otros alfareros) aun no cambian a elaborar alfarería libre de plomo?

Les falta conciencia para saber que podemos hacer un cambio en la salud de las personas a nivel nacional. Pero ya que vean que nos va bien a los libres de plomo, se sumaran a Barro Aprobado.

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