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Makers Batch:
Hidden Stories of the Women Artisans of San José Potteries

A Women's History Month Exhibition

March 3rd - 31st, 2022

Mission Library

3134 Roosevelt Ave.

San Antonio, TX 78214

Much has been written about proprietress Ethel Harris and her San Antonio pottery and tile workshops as well as her head designer Fernando Ramos, but little is known about the woman artisans behind the innovative operation. The Makers Batch: Hidden Stories of the Women Artisans of San José Potteries portrays the untold story of the creative women behind the San José Pottery Workshops and highlights their contributions to the arts and crafts movement of San Antonio. Visitors will learn about these local San JoséNeighborhood women who produced creative goods for the workshops and their deep family ties that connect them to settlers of the San Antonio Missions and to local history legends Domingo Bustillo, prominent military and political figure during the 1700s and Pedro Huizar, sculptor of the Mission San José Rose Window. 

In the 1930s, Mexican art and culture connoisseur Ethel Harris, established three tile workshops (Mexican Arts & Craft, San José Potteries and Mission Crafts) to produce hand-crafted tile and pottery works that captured the essence of the culture of San Antonio, TX to be sold to San Antonio tourists. Harris’s workshops focused on craft productions (manufacturing by hand) to emphasize the inherent beauty behind her art materials that were hard to capture through machinery and factory production. Harris hired local artisans to turn her vision of San Antonio culture into works of art that anyone who wanted a piece of, could take with them. 

Harris's methods of hand-crafted detail encouraged the workshop's artisans to learn the trade of tile making, which resulted in dynamic pieces that are still a part of our city's cultural and artistic heritage. The local woman artisans behind the workshops were the connecting link between the essence of the San José Neighborhood culture and the expression of that culture through hand-made, unique goods. Today, you can still see the craftsmanship of these local artisans in a tile mural at Alamo Stadium along the San Antonio Riverwalk and other areas of San Antonio.

Visitors are offered an intimate glimpse into the lives of artisans like Jesusa (Susie) Bustillos-Chavez, Maria Eufemia (Pema) Bustillos-Salinas, Carmen Bustillos-Chavez, Virginia Martinez- Bustillos, Dorothy Pacheco, and Emma Vignes-Dixon through a private compilation of photographs, heirlooms and hand-crafted creations as well as original furniture productions from San José Potteries. These precious items are generously loaned to the Mission Library from the personal collections of Susan Toomey Frost and the Anguiano, Mendoza, Bustillos, Salinas, Valdez, and Villarreal families. Exhibit is curated by San Antonio’s own Mission Crafts Chandlery.

LEARN MORE

Colors on Clay:  The San José Tile Workshops of San Antonio by Susan Toomey Frost

San Antonio Express News: A force of nature: Ethel Wilson Harris

The Heritage Foundation: San Antonio River Foundation