Crisol Workshop: the alchemy of clay
The first artistic phase of Alejandro Vila began in 1973, when he first learned about the ceramic world. That year, he visited the workshop of the ceramist Hugo Pereira, who later became his teacher. He left feeling amazed by this magical world where "a handful of earth is transformed into something that is meaningful to people".

The place had seduced him, "it was like visiting an 18th century alchemist, an individual with cauldrons", remembers Vila, who worked and learned alongside Pereira, who he describes as "a master of ceramics" with "knowledge of the perfect formulas."

With that knowledge, Vila, along with ceramicist Loreto Pierart, set up a workshop called Crisol. They started creating necklaces, rings and accessories for women with futuristic designs that showed Latin American cultural influences, a combination inspired by Vila’s recent trip to the United States.

Later, the two artists built a bigger wood-burning oven, which allowed them to create bigger pieces such as dishes, cups, flower pots, and bottles. They were able to incorporate their unique style into every piece, working with different techniques such as grez, raku, etchers and enamels, among others.

They simultaneously opened the doors of their workshop for an art activities program for needy school aged children, an endeavor that was financed by donations from local businesses.

At the beginning of the 80's, due to the coal crises in the city of Lota, the labor reconversion of hundreds of miners became necessary. Alejandro thought that if he could create an artisan development center it would become a good source of income for the region. Not only did the miners need a new trade, but the clay could be found for free in layers over the coal and in the slopes of the hills of the area. They offered courses in industrial ceramics, craftsmanship, molding and sculpture. In addition, a ceramic workshop was built where all the miners contributed and produced pieces.

These workshops had so much success that the finished pieces were sold and exhibited during three consecutive years in the artisan fair of Bustamante Park in Santiago. It was the best fair at the time and could be accessed only by invitation from the Pontificia Universidad Católica.