Hilario Alejos Madrigal
One of Michoacan, Mexico’s most recognized and prize-winning folk artists, Hilario Alejos Madrigal makes traditional pineapple pots, decorated with elaborate details of incision, appliqué and openwork. This requires exceptional mastery not only in clay sculpture, but also in the dual firings necessary for each piece. These colorful pineapple-shaped pots, long associated with hospitality and goodwill, are created in a distinctive, glossy green glaze, though Madrigal also utilizes yellows and blues. In addition to his immediately recognizable and irrefutably fun pineapple pots, Madrigal makes candelabras, punch bowls, and other utilitarian items.
Madrigal lives in the village of San Jose De Gracia, where he first learned clay-making techniques at age 13 from his mother, Elisa Madrigal Martinez, who is known as the foremost master of Michoacan pineapples. When Madrigal married in the 1970s, he started his own workshop, and has long worked side-by-side with his wife and children.
Materials used to create these whimsical items begin first with clay extracted from San Jose de Gracia. After the item is sculpted and fired, it’s ready to be given a dose of color. Glazes mixed with copper sulphate and other minerals introduce brilliant shine to each piece. Items are fired twice: once after the clay cures and again after they are glazed.
Madrigal is the recipient of several prizes in local and national artisan competitions including the Premio Fomento Cultural Banamex to the Great Masters of the Mexican Folk Art; one of his signature pieces, the Biznaga, can even be seen in the wonderful book The Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art.