When I wrote the first edition of Moon Costa Rica,  (then called the Costa Rica Handbook) two decades ago, the country's crafts scene was relatively undeveloped. Happily, the tourist dollar has since spawned a renaissance, nay, a veritable explosion in quality crafts.
Today, everywhere, souvenir outlets display the Boruca people's stunning devil masks; plus miniature carretas (traditional ox-drawn carts); sensuous wooden bowls; and, most prominently, quintessentially Costa Rica ceramics.
The vast majority of ceramics hail from the tiny hamlet of Guaitíl, 12 kilometers east of Santa Cruz, in Nicoya. A visit here is de rigueur for anyone heading to Nicoya's beaches.
Most families in Guaitíl earn their entire income from ceramics. Many inhabitants--descendants of Chorotega indigenous people--have been making their unique pottery of red or black or ocher clay using the same methods for generations, turning the clay on wheels and polishing the pottery with small jadelike grinding stones taken from nearby archaeological sites.
Every family seems to be attended by the matriarch: Women run the businesses and sustain families and village structures. They'll happily take you to the back of the house to see the large open-hearth kilns where the pots are fired.
My favorite place is the Oven Store, (tel. 506/2681-1696), where friendly owners Susan and Jes offer five-hour pottery classes; it's on the northwest side of the soccer field.
While here, you can learn about the Chorotega traditions at the Ecomuseo de la Cerámica Chorotega  (tel. 506/2681-1214), which opened in 2007 in the neighboring community of San Vicente, just one kilometer from Guaitíl.