Crafts in Totana have always been a great source of development, including a wide variety of pottery and ceramic pieces. This activity, of medieval origin, has a long tradition and clear roots among the inhabitants of this city. There is a large concentration of craft workshops, which are mostly family-run.
The city has had a great boost thanks to this economic activity, which has earned the region renown through Spain. Given their traditional character, which reflects the artistic history of the population, permanence in time, and a form of commercialization that strengthens the artisanal and family activity, crafts in Totana have a very marked character that has lasted for centuries.
The pieces follow ancient techniques inherited and transmitted through generations. In them, it is easy to perceive the Arab influence. It should be noted that these products are sold without intermediaries.
However, despite the clear influence of tradition on crafts in Totana, skilled artisans have managed to incorporate new techniques and methods, diversifying the production of vessels and other ceramic objects to meet specific the requirements and needs of each time of year, as well as demonstrating their mastery of the trade.
Types of Clay
Generally, in the creation of handicrafts in Totana, a combination of “roya”, “greda”, and black clays is used. These are very abundant in the areas of “Los Huertos” and in the “Carivete” quarries. As each object requires clay with certain texture and properties, the proportion of the clays can vary when they are combined.
Roya clay is malleable and can be spread even in thin sheets, though that makes the piece fragile for handling. This is why it is mixed with greda clay, which has little plasticity but great resistance.
In this way, greda clay, which is white, gives the pieces hardness. Black clay has identical ductility properties as roya clay, though the piece will eventually have a black color.
According to the traditional process still applied by many of the families that have promoted crafts in Totana, in the preparation of the clay, estimated combinations of water and clay are made. This combination should be whipped until a good mixing point is achieved.
Subsequently, the excess water is eliminated and the mixture is brought to what is called “sobadora”, a machine generally used for stretching dough, which in this case is used to give homogeneity to the mixture.
Later, this mixture is passed through a dense sieve to separate the possible grains or small stones. This prepares the clay for being taken to the lathe and made into desired pieces.
The lathe is where the creative act occurs. A clay ball is placed on a circular table that is part of the lathe and the desired shape is created by the pressure of the potter’s hands as the clay rotates on the lathe.
When the part is modeled, it is taken to the parts firing workshop. There, one will find traditional Arab ovens from which emerges a piece with a finish typical of crafts in Totana.
This activity has become an emblem of the city. Its recognition has reached such a point that in Totana, the Technological Center of Crafts has been created. It is located on Rambla de La Santa Avenue.