Brazilian blue and white pottery is made by Porcelana Monte Sião in the town of Monte Sião, in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.
Although they also make beer mugs and issue some of their items in brown and white, those can't compare in popularity to the blue and white flower-patterned pottery which Brazilians have come to associate with the town.
Monte Sião blue and white pottery is sturdy and doesn't chip easily. Materials used in production are clay, feldspar, caulim and quartz. Before the firing, which lasts about 50 hours at 1,300 degrees centigrade, variations of eight-petaled flowers and borders are hand painted with imported cobalt blue on each piece. The company claims the wood used in the kilns comes from their own reforestation area.
You can view the basic production steps in this Virtual Factory Tour.
Porcelana Monte Sião was founded in 1959. At first, the company's small output was restricted to miniature porcelain decorations. One day, somebody ordered a replica of a small blue-and-white Portuguese pitcher. High demand for similar pieces launched a new phase for the company, which currently produces about 2,000 pieces a day.
Browse the Porcelana Monte Sião Online Catalog and you will notice the pieces are pretty affordable at the factory store. The soup plate and the sugar bowl pictured on this page cost R$17,50 each.
In shops other than the factory store, the same pieces might cost twice as much. It's good to have a general idea of what prices are at the factory outlet, so if you spot this easily identifiable pottery somewhere in Brazil, you can tell whether the price being asked is reasonable.
Where to Buy Monte Sião Blue and White Pottery:
- At houseware stores in Brazil - availability may be erratic. Contact the company's regional sale representatives for more information.
- Online – The online purchasing system requires a Brazil address. Besides, shipping and handling fees are only added at the very end of the procedures. For more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- At the factory store – Monte Sião is worth a stop. It is located in southern Minas Gerais, a beautiful hilly area. Besides, its location on the border of Minas Gerais and São Paulo State could almost include it in São Paulo's Circuit of Waters, or spa town circuit.
How to Get to Monte Sião - MG:
Monte Sião is much closer to the city of São Paulo than to Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais. The distance between São Paulo and Monte Sião on Rodovia Federal Fernão Dias (BR-381), which connects the two state capitals, is 174 km.
There are six cities between São Paulo and Monte Sião: Mairiporã, Atibaia, Bragança Paulista, Socorro, Lindóia and Águas de Lindóia.
Going from São Paulo to Monte Sião by Bus:
Viação Bragança has a São Paulo-Monte Sião line that leaves from the Tietê Bus Terminal. The trip takes approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Viação Bragança telephone numbers:
(11) 6221-3694 and (11) 6221-4718
São Paulo - Monte Sião:
Daily departures at 6 am and 5 pm
Price: 22,25 reais (about $ 12.80)
Monte Sião - São Paulo:
Daily departures at 6:50 am and 4:10 pm
Price: 19,94 reais (about $ 11.50). Prices subject to changes.
Monte Sião Knits:
The growth of the pottery industry in Monte Sião is directly involved in the rise of what is actually the city's major industry: knits. Monte Sião used to depend almost exclusively on agriculture before the pottery business began to generate more traffic. Women in this cool mountain town began selling hand-knitted products they made at home right out of their front door to passing travelers.
Today, Monte Sião boasts hundreds of knit and textile companies, many of which are small to medium family businesses.The high season for this kind of shopping is the Brazilian winter, especially June and July.