Five Questions: RUFINA RUIZ LÓPEZ

Rufina in her hometown

At Obakki, we always want to know more about the people behind our products. Human beings are many-faceted creatures and as much as you may know someone already, you can always dig a little deeper. These five questions do just that. 

We caught up with one of our impact artisans Rufina Ruiz López. She believes she was born to be a potter. The fifth-generation ceramicist has been making bespoke earthenware pieces with her bare hands since she was a child. Scroll on to learn more about this talented artisan's journey and craft. 

Pinguino Clay Pitcher by Rufina
Oaxacan Incense Holder | Natural

OBAKKI
What most inspires your pottery? Do you have a mission?

RUFINA
My pottery is inspired by the generations that came before me who have passed down this sacred craft. In my community you are born, raised and live each day by the clay—the Holy Mother. Every part of my being is woven through the story of this magical mud. 

My greatest mission is to leave this same legacy for the generations to come. 

OBAKKI
Can you share a bit about where you grew up and your background as a potter/ceramicist? 

RUFINA
I had the great fortune to be born into a large family of potters who have carried on this craft in my comunity for five generations. With 40 years of pottery tradition behind me, I had the unique opportunity to live in a town with over 3000 years of history with with clay. My town, Santa María Atzompa, is located 7km from Oaxaca City, and is a community of great history, culture, and customs that I've always felt embraced by. 

Rufina in her workshop

OBAKKI
Where and how did you hone your craft?

RUFINA
I learned to work with clay at a young age from the women in my family. Beyond that, I had the opportunity to enter the San Agustín Etla Art Center in Oaxaca which gave me the necessary tools to be able to transform our traditional pottery style into something more contemporary. It was here that I studied under my teachers, Francisco Toledo, and learned different techniques to improve my pottery and to clarify my vision.

Rufina working on a clay vase

OBAKKI
What are some of the special techniques and tools used to create a piece, what kinds of glazes and colours do you like to use?

RUFINA
The tools I use are my hands, eyes, brain and feet, accompanied by wooden and plastic utensils and leather. In the Ruiz Lopez workshop, the tradition has been transformed a bit, and now we work with 5 defined pottery techniques which I learned at the Center of Arts of San Agustín Etla. 

Much different than the traditional unglazed techniques that are indigenous to Santa San Agustín Etla Art Center San Agustín Etla Art Center Atzompa, at the Arts Center I learned how to use all of the various coloured enamels and pigments that are available. All of these enamels are lead-free and I apply the colours according to how I'm feeling about each piece, and also according to the season.

Oaxacan Incense Holder in Rufina's workshop
Rufina and Obakki founder Treana outside Rufina's workshop

OBAKKI
Tell us about some of the pottery you design for Obakki—what inspired those pieces? What makes them unique? Do you have a favourite piece? 

RUFINA
The pottery that I desgined for Obakki is all inspired by my family and my own personal life. These pieces are less designed than they are driven into existence by my past life experiences. Dreams are born (along with challenges), sorrows are relieved, trust is recovered and bridges are built—all of this is communicated through the clay for this collection. My biggest goal with these pieces for Obakki was to communicate strength and to be able to share that with the entire world. 

I connect deeply with all of the pieces I've created. The partnership with Treana (Obakki's founder) has led to incredible transformation and motivation in my life. 

SHOP THE STORY

Pinguino Clay Pitcher Serveware
Pinguino Clay Pitcher Serveware
Pinguino Clay Pitcher Serveware
Pinguino Clay Pitcher Serveware
Pinguino Clay Pitcher Serveware
Pinguino Clay Pitcher Serveware
Pinguino Clay Pitcher Serveware
Pinguino Clay Pitcher Kitchen & Dining

Pinguino Clay Pitcher

$95.00
Oaxacan Clay Amphora | Onyx Accents + Decor
Oaxacan Clay Amphora | Onyx Accents + Decor
Oaxacan Clay Amphora | Onyx Accents + Decor
Oaxacan Clay Amphora | Onyx Accents + Decor
Oaxacan Clay Amphora | Onyx Accents + Decor
Oaxacan Clay Amphora | Onyx Home Decor

Oaxacan Clay Amphora | Onyx

$395.00
Oaxacan Clay Vase | Florero Vases + Planters
Oaxacan Clay Vase | Florero Vases + Planters
Oaxacan Clay Vase | Florero Vases + Planters
Oaxacan Clay Vase | Florero Vases + Planters
Oaxacan Clay Vase | Florero Vases + Planters
Oaxacan Clay Vase | Florero Vases + Planters
Oaxacan Clay Vase | Florero Home Decor

Oaxacan Clay Vase | Florero

$95.00
Oaxacan Clay Serving Bowl Bowls
Oaxacan Clay Serving Bowl Bowls
Oaxacan Clay Serving Bowl Bowls
Oaxacan Clay Serving Bowl Bowls
Oaxacan Clay Serving Bowl Bowls
Oaxacan Clay Serving Bowl Kitchen & Dining

Oaxacan Clay Serving Bowl

$195.00

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Five Questions: Rufina Ruiz Lopez 

My pottery is inspired by the generations that came before me who have passed down this sacred craft. In my community you are born, raised and live each day by the clay—the Holy Mother. Every part of my being is woven through the story of this magical mud.