These Italian ceramics are from the Maremma, Italy Ceramics studio of Claudio Pisapia: Montis Pescalis Ceramiche in the medieval hill town of Montepescali in Tuscany. You can read tale of how I met Claudio - a typical Italian experience in one of Maremma's small country towns - below, but first his creations.
Claudio practices three ceramic techniques.
Bucchero - "odourous clay" , a black and shiny ceramic using iron oxide rich clays, dating back to Etruscan times (as early as the early seventh century BC). The uniform black or grey colour of these Ertuscan ceramics is achieved by baking the pieces in a completely closed and reducing atmosphere environment, devoid of all oxygen.
Raku ware or Raku-yaki, an ancient Japanese pottery traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony, and now adapted for more contemporary pieces by by western potters.
The technique comprises of extracting the still incandescent object from the furnace and emersing it in water or a closed container containing fuel such as seaweed, leaves, paper, or sawdust. In this poor oygen atmosphere the unenameled parts of the object become black whilst the enameled ones acquire metallic effects.
And Gres, stoneware. A fine-textured vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic primarily made from non-refractory fire clay. In effect, a man-made stone.
Claudio's commissions include large multi-piece sundials for the Tuscan hill towns of Montemassi and Braccagni. Each of which took between twenty and thirty days to complete.
Both their colourful Italian ceramics studio and workshop (a few doors down) are in Via Garibaldi. The latter of which when Claudio took me on a tour, was full to the brim of work just started, pieces drying from the kiln and those awaiting enamelling.
Together, Claudio and Paola offer ceramic courses in the techniques of lathe, modelling, decorating and Raku. With (optional) bed & breakfast in their home a few minutes walk away.
Their Italian pottery website and blog - see below for address - also has demonstration videos, information about their exhibitions, the courses and their itineraries and prices, and a link to their bed and breakfast pages.
If you are thinking about booking Italian ceramic art lessons with Claudio and Paola, it may be worth knowing that their ceramic studies took them to England, and they speak English.
Claudio is also a musician...
Montis Pescalis Ceramiche
A little while ago I went on a drive to find the Maremma, Italy ceramics workshop of Claudio Pisapia and his wife Paola. I had come across their website whilst researching the medieval hill town of Montepescali for this Travel Guide, and wanted to see their work.
Having visited the town before, I walked up and down what I thought might be the main thoroughfares, but had no joy in finding their workshop. My experiences of living in Italy have taught me not to be daunted, but to just ask... the men on the piazza, or in the local bar... for directions. This time I opted for the "Alimentari" - grocer's - store.
In explaining who I was looking for and witnessing acknowledgement from both that they obviously knew the couple well - Montepescali is a small town - I was delighted when the owners daughter immediately offered to take me herself to their workshop. However, on passing the same bar that I had nearly ventured into for help, and down the same street from which I had just emerged, when we arrived at the workshop the light was on but the door firmly shut.
The daughter at this stage needed to go and fetch her own child from school, so indicated that I return to the store, and that her mum would take me to their house. I returned, but no Mum inside. As I made a move to leave, she appeared, and without me needing to say much at all, immediately offered to take me to the Pescali home. Leaving the store unmanned...
But there was no answer to my ringing of the door bell ... I hovered, not wanting to give up, but equally not wanting to be considered as a potential burglar, so started to write a note. It was then that I saw that there was more than one door bell - three or more in fact. So I tried a second.
The door was opened straight away by Claudio Pisapia, and as is typical experience in Maremma, (even though I was a complete stranger) I was invited straight into his lovely home in the walls of Montepescali. But even more telling of the nature of people in Maremma, he also left me completely alone in his home whilst he went to fetch some bed and breakfast guests and show them to their rooms. This trusting nature may leave you exposed, but it has a nice feeling about it.
And so ends my tale of finding Italian ceramics in Maremma.
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