Mexican Art Chimineas: Beautiful Botella, Awesome Altiplano

Mexican Art chimineas are some of our best sellers, a popular member of our already huge and fast-growing clay chiminea family. Every design is uniquely shaped, beautifully hand-crafted in Mexico by local artisans, and they’re coming up with gorgeous new designs all the time.

As we write this post it’s steaming hot outside, perfect chim weather, and we’re dying to get home and fire ours up! In the meantime we thought it’d be cool to take a look at two new kids on the Mexican Art block, the beautiful Botella model and the awesome Altiplano. Welcome to our world, a place of alfresco entertainment, scrumptious outdoor-cooked food and heart-warming time spent with friends and family.

Altiplano mexican art chiminea
Altiplano mexican art chiminea

This is how clay chimineas are made

First, a few words about how these great items are made. In Mexico, chiminea manufacture is often a thriving cottage industry. Mexican families construct vast kilns that can hold as many as a hundred or more chimineas at a single firing. First they’re bisque fired, also known as biscuit firing, which simply means heating up the clay to a temperature where it turns into something that’s almost as hard as stone.

Properly-fired bisque is heated at a high enough temperature to burn off water and any organic material in the clay, but low enough so the clay remains porous. This is more or less the same process that goes on deep inside the earth, where massively high temperatures and pressures naturally fuse things like estuary mud and clay into rocks like shale and slate. The bisque firing usually takes the clay up to a temperature of anything between 1000-1060C, depending on the type of clay, and the glaze firing is even hotter, designed to mature both the underlying clay body and the glaze to its final hardness and strength.

The second firing is when the glaze is added, either by spraying, painting or dipping the bisque fired item into the glaze, which starts life as a liquid made up of particles of glass and other chemicals suspended in water. Glazes are a kind of glassy coating and can be either clear transparent, glossy or matt, translucent or opaque, smooth or textured. The glaze seals the porous clay and helps make it waterproof.

Because they’re hand made, hand-fired and hand glazed, every chim is unique. Which means yours is a one-off.

The big, bold, smooth Botella Mexican Art Chiminea

Botella means ‘bottle’ in Spanish, the inspiration behind this smooth, sleek bottle-shaped chim that comes our way fresh from Mexico. It comes in medium or large sizes and the deep, rich brown glaze is simply stunning, with a stylish pre-worn finish graduating from a gorgeous conker red-brown to almost black.

The curvy, fluted chimney with a seam design is visually pleasing and once you set a fire inside it’ll crackle away happily for ages. Over time the glaze finish will gently wear away to deliver a fabulous, unique patina, which complements any outdoor space perfectly. Here’s a link to the Botella.

The amazing Altiplano chiminea

Simplicity is key to the design of this brilliant contemporary clay chim, a gently curved oval shape with a curvy square mouth and the most wonderful glaze, a feast of subtle browns in patterns created by the glazing and firing process, where variations in the kiln’s heat have created different shades of brown, speckles, blobs and all manner of interesting textures.

This is such a simple beast, all you have to do is unpack it, decide where to place it, light your three small test fires to gently prepare it for action, and invite folks round to enjoy the alfresco experience. Here’s a link to the Altiplano.

Explore the full Mexican Art range

Here comes summer! If you’d like to explore the full range from our Mexican Art collection, including the Altiplano and Botella, here’s a link.