I know you are itching to know what are the possible benefits you can get when you choose a handmade italian pottery. However, let us discuss first the history and tradition of Italian when it comes to ceramics. Read on for more details. Let’s make this post as helpful and factual as possible.
Tradition and History
Because of its various uses and artistic approach, ceramics has been so much part of humankind’s history. It was noted that ceramics are already here even during prehistoric times. Way back 6500 B.C. when making ceramics was considered as an art and most prehistoric activity.
Ceramics has evolve from simple composition of water, fire and earth. Ceramics is very important to human existence. Starting as a daily life’s material for living, ceramics has been introduced to our ancestors as an elaborated and artistic workmanship too.
Italy has been famous for ceramics though ceramics are now widely produced in different regions of different countries. The art of ceramics making has seen being flourished in Italy in the time when Ancient Greek potters transferred this thriving activity along the people living in Southern Italian costs. Assimilated by Italic potters and local Etruscan people, the art of making ceramics gave rise to a tradition which is rich in creative and productive ideas. The fertile age of ceramics in Italy was recorded on between Middle Ages and Renaissance period. It has transformed the artists ceramics art form that has remained till today.
Okay, now let us skip the serious conversation with all these dates and history. But, let us not forget to define what is Ceramics and what is Majolica.
Ceramics was originally derived from the greek word “Keramos” which is term for fired clay or “terra bruciata” which means an object made out of clay. Ceramics is actually a singular noun that refers to the art of making objects out from ceramic materials. While majolica is the word used generally for decorated and enamelled ceramics.
The first ever samples of majolicas were discovered way back 9th century in Mesopotamia and Baghdad. During the 13th century, traders were already importing majolica in the country of Italy through the Majorca island which is considered as the headquarters before of trading vessels between Italy and Spain. The Italians named the ceramics objects to “Maiolica” because it came from or originated from the place Majorca. Italians loved how these things were made so they copied the Spanish and Islamic designs of majolica until they create their very own version. It was, as mentioned above, during late 15th century and beginning of 16th century during Renaissance period that majolicas were tagged as an art and reached its artistic quality, too.
Did you know that you can visit a museum in Deruta where you can see and visualize what I am talking about here? The collections and exhibits were collected from year 13th century to Renaissance period majolicas.
How to make Majolicas?
There are five steps that Italian potters follow in order to create majolicas. It was used 500 years ago and still being used up today.
The first step involves and about the potter. The potter will need to create an art piece using his bare hands turning it on a wheel using a refined clay or plain lump. “In Terra” or green ware is the term used to describe the moulded clay piece and that greenware is then placed in an open area being exposed to natural air for drying. When it dries completely, it means it will change its color to a light grey one then that means it is now ready for the first firing which is usually done in the kiln.
This second process is called the second firing. The dried piece from the first step will be loaded onto large racks and will be prepared for firing into the kiln. Know that during this firing process, the item will be exposed to 1030 degree celsius or 1890 degree fahrenheit. After the firing, the kiln will be remained closed for hours to allow the item dry naturally. Why? Is it because potters want to avoid cracks and chips on the items and this only happen when a dramatic change of temperature will take place. The art piece will be now termed as “Biscotto” or Bisque during this stage and will show the typical famous terracotta red color.
The third step is called the Glazing. Once the item is already good to go, the bisque is then dipped into a liquid glaze which is famous for potters as “Primo Bianco” or “Smalto”. Once the bisque is fully covered with the white fine powder, the item is prepared for painting.
The artist then proceed to painting using a “Spolvero” in this process.
Second firing is the final step once the item is done with designing and painting. The item will be loaded into the kiln and will be exposed to 1690 degree fahrenheit or 920 degree celsius. Did you know that to make sure the item will be perfect and will not be chipped or cracked, some potters exposed it to 24 hours of firing with more than 12 hours being exposed to constant high heat? Like the first firing, the item still need to dry and cool down naturally to avoid “thermal shocks”.
Now that we already discussed the necessary things for you to know about ceramics and majolicas, let’s get to the point of why you need to choose hand painted italian pottery?
Handmade Italian pottery are most of the time costs more than machine-made pottery. Yes. But, why? Well, it has to be because it was personally stamped from a mold, wheeled, high-fired, dipped in white glaze and hand painted by the very own potter or artist. It is a reasonable investment too as you are ensured that it was well-made, controlled, designed for extra arts and durability.
The fact that the time and effort of a potter was put so much in just one piece is already enough reason why handmade Italian pottery are good, well, the best for me. You have read the process above right? So, before you complain that a wonderful and artistic mug there in an Italian pottery shop is very expensive, think again as it did went through each processes plus handled personally by an artist.