Making Ceramics in Carmen de Viboral

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Making Ceramics in Carmen de Viboral

TLDR? Carmen de Viboral is famous for its ceramics tours, and on some of them, you can get ands on and do it yourself!

El Carmen de Viobral is a municipality located in the San Nicolás Valley of Antioquia, Colombia. Made up of 55 villages in total, the regions economy is based on agriculture products such as beans, corn, potatoes and tamarillos. 

But El Carmen de Viboral’s real claim to fame is something truly special: their hand-made and hand painted ceramics. 

In fact, tourists flock to the town every day to appreciate its unique beauty, purchase some ceramics, or even learn to make pottery of their own. 

Read ahead to find out everything you need to know before your next trip to Carmen de Viboral! 

The History of Ceramics in Carmen de Viboral

Ceramics came to the town of Carmen del Viboral in 1898, thanks to Eliseo Pareja Ospina, a ceramic artist from Caldas, Antioquia.

Here, the artist found the area’s rich soil, abundant water sources, and clay quartz provided the perfect conditions for creating pieces of handmade ceramic. 

Ospina and his artisans then began to teach the people of Carmen de Viboral the tradition of ceramic: different types of clay, various techniques, and methods on how to manipulate the clay. Soon, the townsfolk were creating things like plates, bowls and cups. 

In the beginning, the ceramic pieces stayed white, the color of the clay from Carmen de Viboral’s soil. That’s one of the special things about the ceramic of El Carmen de Viboral. It remains the same color, even when baked at high temperatures.

Around the 1970s, artisans took advantage of the white clay’s possibilities for decoration, and began painting their work with colorful lines and flowers.  

Back then, there were over twenty ceramic factories open all around Carmen de Viboral. Unfortunately, the business was disrupted in the 1990s when China began producing mass amounts of cheap porcelain. 

Luckily, some ceramic factories survived, and nowadays the ceramic industry of Carmen del Viaboral is known throughout the country for selling unique and precious pieces of hand painted ceramic. 

Touring a Ceramics Factory

If you have no idea how the world of ceramics works, no worries – you’ll be able to learn all about it by touring the the Ceramicas El Dorado ceramics factory. 

This is the perfect place to learn about the steps of pottery creation, from the search for quality clay, to painting the finished product. 

The factory welcomes all kinds of guests with open arms, and the love and care they put into their craft is evident in every piece they create, may that be plates, pitches, cups, washbasins, casserole dishes and so much more. 

Tours of the Ceramicas El Dorado are held every day from 9am to 4pm, and last about an hour. It’s a good idea to make a reservation before arriving to guarantee yourself a spot in the tour. 

Ceramicas El Dorado is located right at the entrance of Carmen de Viboral, on the principal avenue.  Keep an eye out for the shop’s glass doors and sign reading “Ceramics El Dorado.” 

The parking lot is right to the shop, but do keep in mind that you’ll have to pay a parking fee if you’re planning to get there by car or motorbike. 

Making, Baking, and Painting Your Own Ceramics

If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach, consider taking one of the many pottery workshops held in town, where you’ll learn to craft your own ceramic pieces. 

I highly suggest checking out the classes at Carmenterra Taller de Barro. I took a class there and had an amazing time! 

The second I got there I fell in love with the studio. It’s a small bamboo house surrounded by nature. So quiet and chill! 

At the beginning of the class, the pottery artisans explain some pottery basics, such as the history of ceramic, the history of Carmen de Viboral, and the many different processes used in ceramic creation. 

After that, they’ll show you step-by-step how to create your pieces! 

  • First, choose what you want to create: a plate, a cup, a pitcher, a vase. The possibilities are endless! 
  • Then, grab your clay, turn on the pottery wheel, and start molding the clay with your hands and the help of some water. 
  • You also have the option to chose a premade mold and throw liquid clay inside of it. 
  • It may take you a few attempts to get the hang of it, but once you’re satisfied with your piece, you’ll either bake it in a kiln or let it air dry, depending on the kind of clay you’re working with. 
  • Once the clay has solidified, it’s time to decorate! The pottery artisans will teach you some fabulous creative techniques. 
  • And last but not least, you’ll glaze your piece! In my opinion, it was so satisfying to see how this liquid makes your work look so much more professional. 

Carmenterra Taller de Barro is about five minutes away from the center of Carmen de Viboral. The prices of the classes are affordable, and also include a snack!  

Where to Buy Ceramics in Carmen de Vibora

You’ll see a ton of ceramic shops just walking through the streets of Carmen de Viboral where you can purchase a souvenir for yourself or for your family. 

There’s even a street called “Calle de la Ceramica” decorated with colorful ceramic, and a gorgeous mural of angel wings made out of ceramic mosaics called “Paseo del Angel.” 

The roads are lined with many shops whose gorgeous window displays act as further street decorations. It’s just beautiful! 

Although there are many shops, I recommend you visit the Ceramicas Esmaltarte. This shop sells the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t help myself from buying as many ceramics as I could to take home with me! 

Check out their website to get an idea of the kind of ceramics they sell, or check out the shop itself for a first-hand look at how much love and creativity the pottery artist puts into their pieces of art. 

Get Your Hands Dirty at a Ceramics Workshop in Carmen de Viboral!

Tap into your creative side and create a unique piece of ceramic you can be proud of in Carmen de Viboral! You’ll love it so much you might find yourself looking to get a pottery wheel and kiln for your own home! 

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