Friday, April 17, 2009

Pefi’s pottery

We hadn’t lived in Costa Rica long before I started hearing about Pefi in conversations with new friends and parents at the girls’ school.

“We’re going to Pefi on Thursday.”

“Did you get new Pefi?”

“I love the monkey Pefi in my kitchen!”

Not just a destination or a thing, Pefi is a person—a cheery, sprightly artist named Cecilia Facio de Figueres who goes by her sweet nickname, Pefi.

There aren’t many very well-known artists in Costa Rica, but Pefi is one. She paints on canvas but is best recognized for her work on pottery. Her unique designs are always bright and whimsical, commonly including flowers, fruits and funny little monkeys who peer over pineapples and around edges of watermelon slices and bananas. Buying a piece of Pefi’s art is like a rite of passage for expats living in Costa Rica. I have friends who have a lot of her work, and I’ve teased them they need to have their pottery collections insured!

Visiting Pefi’s studio, Diseño, P.F, and home in the hills is a lot of fun. About a half-hour from our house, Pefi’s place lies on the other side of San Jose, off the beaten path. Her home isn’t hard to find once one knows how to get there, but this is a trip that is handed down from expat to expat, because once you’re off the highway it’s quite a drive up the long and twisting, one-lane, unmarked road through the woods to her house and workshop.

And what a fantastic place she has. Set on a beautiful, tranquil mountainside, Pefi and her husband live with their twelve dogs in the home she and three others built 33 years ago.

I’ve been to Pefi’s place several times, but Dan hadn’t and I really wanted him to meet Pefi and see all of her work (other than the couple pieces of pottery we already owned). My friend Joelle called Pefi and asked if she would do us the big favor of letting our two families visit on a weekend (when the studio is normally closed), and in typical Tica style, she was kind enough to accommodate us.

It was such a pretty day the morning we visited. We enjoyed talking with Pefi, shopping all by ourselves in her studio, and even getting a personal tour of her home. She told us how she and her mom, who is in her eighties, have painted together for much of their lives. Additionally, I never would have guessed that this sweet, unassuming lady is the sister-in-law of a former President and daughter-in-law of a former three-time President of Costa Rica.

As Pefi’s business has grown (she has even designed a mug for Starbucks in the US!) she has hired artists to help her with the pottery. So how can you know for sure you got a Pefi original? Check the bottom of the pottery—all the artists have a symbol on the bottom to indicate their work, and Pefi’s trademark is a cute yellow butterfly.

We have just a few pieces of Pefi’s work and my goal is to have enough serving pieces for entertaining. Before we move back to Ohio I hope to have a specially-designed platter made just for us. One of the great things about knowing the artist is she’ll create whatever we commission her to do. I love having this one-of-a-kind artwork from Costa Rica, but purchasing it from a local artist who is also such a terrific person makes it even more meaningful.


Justine/Justiney/Tiney said...

Wow, the colors are just amazing!!!!! I think you'll treasure you pieces forever with fond memories of Pefi and CR.

Justine :o )

Jill said...

I love the colors in all the pieces! PRETTY!

aimee said...

Beautiful stuff!! I love the colors and the whimsical designs.

Shelli said...

Oh wow, I love this work!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have an art gallery/souvenir store called the Iguana Tranquila in between San Ramon and Esparza. We'd love to carry some of Pefi's ceramics but haven't been able to find any contact information for her. If you know how we can reach her (email or phone) please email us at

"The Crest" said...

Hi, I was just looking for info on I have spent much time in La Lucha. Can you forward a telephone number / email for Cecilia, as I would like to visit her studio. We just bought a home in Platanillo and will be visiting more.

You all sound as if you are enjoying Costa. We spent many summers in La Lucha for the past 14 years.

Four in Costa Rica said...

Hola Crest,

You didn't leave me your email address and your blogger info is blocked, so I can't send you any information. If you see this and leave an email addy, I'll get in touch.

Take care,

Nima said...

The colors are eye-catching and the work is unique. I would love to purchase mugs designed by her. Where would I be able to purchase them?
In Oct-Nov 2011 we are visiting: Liberia, Heredia, Arenal, Jimenez, Drake areas. Would appreciate it very much if you can provide specific locations to visit to see her work and purchase some items.

Four in Costa Rica said...

Hi Nima,

I agree with you--Pefi's stuff is terrific!

I don't know where you can buy it throughout the country (I always visited her studio up on the mountain), but I do have contact information for Pefi if you'd like to call and ask about vendors.

Here is the information I found for you from a business card I picked up at the studio:

Tel: (506) 2-279-6059

Hope you have a wonderful, sunny vacation in Costa Rica. :)