Teodora Blanco

1928 – 1980
Functions, Occupations, and Activities
>Potter, sculptor
The Blanco family of Santa María Atzompa, Oaxaca, Mexico is noted for their ceramic production, especially decorative pieces. Their fame began with Teodora Blanco, who as a young child added decorative elements to the more utilitarian wares made by her parents. Eventually her work became noted by a foreigner who not only bought her entire production, also encouraged her to create new forms, leading to mostly human figures called “muñecas” (lit. dolls). Her form of decoration, called “pastillaje,” was also an innovation for the area’s pottery and consists of small pieces of clay added onto the main surfaces, often covering much of the area. Teodora taught her children and although she intended that only the oldest daughter carry on her work, today three generations of the family continues making mostly decorative pottery, mostly following her work. These include Irma García Blanco, who have been recognized by the Fomento Cultural Banamex and Fernando Félix Pegüero García, who has won prizes from the Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art in New York and Premio Nacional de Cerámica in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco...Teodora Blanco was born in Santa María de Atzompa, a town were pottery-making is dominated by women. Her parents were potters, mostly making ashtrays, figures of monkeys called machines and small figures of musicians. She began working with clay when she was about six years old and soon her work stood out for the addition of decorative elements on her ashtrays...Since she was young, Teodora sold her wares at the 20 de Noviembre market in the city of Oaxaca. In the 1970s, a foreigner in the market was attracted to her work and offered to buy all of her production. Shortly after, he requested more variety in her work, which led her to create the female figures she called “monas.” The first ones were simple, usually images of a woman with an infant or even a tourist. Over time the figures became more varied and more complicated. She eventually worked with various government agencies as well as the Rockefeller Foundation...Teodora invented the “muñecas” (lit. dolls) on which many variations have been developed. Teodora’s most characteristic pieces are large-scale, fantasy creatures, generally human with animal head or horns. Sometimes they are women doing common activities such as nursing children. They are further characterized by a type of decoration she called “pastilaje,” superimposed small pieces of clay on the main surfaces. All of her work was created with rudimentary tools, such as a “wheel” consisting of nothing more than an inverted bowl with a plate or comal on top...Teodora’s work made her notable by breaking away from the local pottery tradition but also enhancing it. She was invited to events such as World Crafts Council meetings in and out of Mexico and won many national and international prizes and other recognitions. Two years before her death, Nelson Rockefeller came to Oaxaca to meet her, who collected over 175 pieces of her work. Her ceramics also made her relatively wealthy by rural Oaxaca standards. However, she remained a “campesino” with this wealth mostly shown in the way of the purchase of farm animals...As per tradition in Santa María Atzompa, Teodora charged her oldest daughter with carrying on her pottery. However, she also taught her other daughter and three sons. One of these sons became a noted potter as well...The creation of muñecas and use of pastillaje have become tradition in the Blanco family, especially in the work of her brother, her two daughters and one son, as well as a number of her grandchildren...Teodora died on December 23, 1980 at age 52. [Retrieved on 1/17/2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanco_family_(Oaxacan_potters)]
Geographic names
Oaxaca; Mé
Related people/organizations
Luis Blanco (is parent of )
Luis Blanco (taught)
Irma Blanco (is child of)
Irma Blanco (taught)
Alicia Leticia Garcia Blanco (is child of)
Alicia Leticia Garcia Blanco (taught)
Fernando Felix Peguero Garcia (is grandchild of)
Related exhibition/event
Nacimiento by Teodora Blanco of Atzompa, Oaxaca, Mexico (is lent from)