Thursday, December 4, 2008

Handmade ceramics

December 1, we got to go to Santo Stefano di Camastra, a small town that is know for its ceramics. After stopping at the tourist center in the middle of town, we were given directions to a workshop and store. The owner was more than happy to give us a tour, and explained the process step by step for us. The vases were all hand made on the potter's wheel, the other pieces had 1 form made by hand and then a mold was made from that. Each piece was fired in an electric kiln twice. The first time was to harden the clay for painting, and the second to set the paint and glaze. The paint used actually had small crystals in it that became the glaze when heated in the kiln. The owner was the third generation of his family to run the business. He was gracious enough to demonstrate creating a vase on the potter's wheel. The clay is just "terra e acqua" (earth and water) and he began by kneading it like bread to soften and prepare it for the wheel. The he centered it on the wheel and began spinning. It was amazing to see that dirty lump of clay transform before our eyes into a vase. After the vase demonstration we looked in the shop at the wide variety of items, everything from dishes to wall decor to lamps. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the shop, and did not leave empty handed. I found a beautiful serving platter as well as a couple of gifts.