One day, during the majolica course at La Meridiana, we went on a trip to Deruta: about two hours south-east of Certaldo. This town is all about majolica. They have been beavering away at it since the early middle ages. I had never seen anything like it: around every corner and on every wall there seemed to be ceramics.
Our first stop was at a traditional workshop where they still produce Deruta ceramics, as they have for hundreds of years. This was the workshop of Antonio Margaritelli. Only he and an assistant work there now. He told us sadly that his sons were not interested in learning the art and was worried that his knowledge would be lost. This is happening to a certain extent with the Murano Glass Blowers too, with it being a close-knit family business with the latest generation growing away from the craft.
You can see how enthused Antonio is by the pots. Unfortunately he spoke very fast, and in Italian, so without our our wonderful guide Francesca (Pietro Madelena's daughter) to translate, we would have been stuck. He described the whole process, including the final part of their firing, where they introduce small amounts of wood to bring out the metallic lustre finishes on some of the work. I had never heard of this in a gas kiln before.
|Antonio enthusing by his kiln.|
|Look at the spout on that jug!|
|This is a teapot.|
|This is how a teapot pours. See.|
|This was Antonio's assistant. He admitted she did most of his best work. I have never seen a steadier hand.|
|Antonio showed us how to take a normal cheap paint brush and slice it with a pair of scissors to make it into a very fine brush fit for his work.|
|Organised chaos: tools, paints, brushes, half finished work etc.|
|The back of one of their pieces (they use this traditional pattern on the back of most of the work).|
I actually failed to take any pictures of the front of their pots, but below are lots which we saw while we walked dreamily around the streets of Deruta.
My next post will be of pots at the Regional Museum of Ceramics in Deruta.