Another Sepia Photography Afternoon with Potter Irma Blanco

Being in Oaxaca must include a visit to the regional artisan villages.  That’s one reason why we focus summer photography workshops on “Market Towns and Artisan Villages”  — to give participants a chance to go beyond the city and explore  the work of Oaxaca’s folk artists.   Among the best is potter Irma Blanco, daughter of Teodora Blanco, who developed the style of affixing pieces of clay decoration to the larger clay body.


Irma is featured in the recently published Grand Masters of Oaxaca Folk Art from Banamex Foundation.  There is a current exhibit of her work and others in this collection at the San Pablo Cultural Center Gallery (Hidalgo between Fiallo and 5 de Mayo).

Irma sits on her knees atop a folded blanket in front of a small wheel that she turns by hand to form the clay.  Her husband digs the clay from a quarry in a nearby village.  She uses her fingers and palms to create the shapes that will become sirenas (mermaids), farm animals, catrinas, and statuesque virgins.

  Irma’s hands are, in and of themselves, a study in beauty and strength.

We also wanted to stop to visit her brother Luis, but he was in Santa Fe at the International Folk Art Market.  Irma is a gracious, welcoming woman with a warm smile.  Before we left she asked if we could have a group photo together with her!  of course, we were delighted to comply.

I found myself moving back and forth between color, sepia, and black and white, and then using Lightroom, a photo editing software, to take the color down to just a hint.  It felt as if some details lent themselves better to the mystery and mood that sepia creates.  Our assignment for the day was to get the details, texture and pattern in sepia.  It was a satisfying, creative photography experience.

Which do you think works best?

Still spaces left in Day of the Dead photography expedition starting October 28, 2012.

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