Hand painting Italian majolica: a video

In this video, Enzo Scardino from Ghenos, paints a lovely Madonna with child. You can see the various steps that lead to an authentic masterpiece! Enjoy the performance.

Candle holders all around!

Candle holders and candlesticks are the perfect accessory to create the right atmosphere in your home. They add style to your decoration, offer the perfect light for your family parties, create coziness in an instant and their flickering light is just magic in your Summer evenings outdoor.
We love handmade ceramic candle holders, with their strong personality and authentic artistry!

By Tiziana Manzetti

ND Dolfi candle holderMillerighe candle holderRaffaellesco candle holderAlessi fish candle holderMagnanelli candle holderFima candle holderFasano candle holder Antica Deruta candle holderCeramiche Sofia candle holder

Have you ever heard of the pumi?

Ceramic pumi from GrottaglieA pumo is popular symbol of good luck in Grottaglie and more in general in the region of Puglia. Every family celebration and important event is sanctified by the gift of a ceramic pumo, rigorously handmade.

Its name, from the local dialect “Pumo de’ fiure”, means flower bud and it derives from the Latin “pomum” from Pomona, thefrom Pomona, the Roman Goddess of fruitful abundance. The bud is round, with a slightly pointed end, and it rests on acanthus leaves, symbols of immortality or, if you will, resurrection.

As you can see the references to good luck are endless, explaining the popularity of the pumi: there is always a good reason to purchase a pumo or give it as a gift to wish someone a good start in a new activity. Typically, a new family will not move its first steps in the community without its brand new pumi, installed at every corner of every balcony of the new nest.

Wandering in the steep streets of Grottaglie and the neighboring villages, you’ll find yourself unable to keep your eyes at ground level: the show is on the first and second floors, where the whitish buildings boast their beautiful balconies with colorful pumi’s on each corner. You will see majestic palaces, once owned by noble families, decorated with elaborate pumi, modest houses taking pride on their simple ceramic buds, each having found its distinctive symbol of prosperity, fertility and abundance.

Pumi are made by hand by Grottaglie potters in a large variety of styles and sizes: you’ll find simple, solid colored traditional pumi as well as colorful, fancy ones. Follow your taste and bring one home, they are beautiful interior decoration accents, indoor and outdoor and … we all need good luck, don’t we?
By Tiziana Manzetti

Ceramic pumi from Grottaglie

Ceramic pumi from Grottaglie

Ceramic pumi from Grottaglie

Ceramic pumi from Grottaglie

 

 

How is sgraffito pottery made?

Sgraffito, in English “to scratch”, is a pottery decorating technique first used in Egypt and the Middle East in the 7th century to have pottery look like precious metals. Around the 10th century it crossed the Mediterranean, influencing Italian and Spanish potters.

Sgraffito pottery: Francesco Fasano at work

A layer of colored liquid clay, called engobe, is applied on a leather hard pottery piece. When dry the potter decorates the piece, scratching the superficial layer to form a design and revealing the clay color underneath. At this point the piece can be kiln fired for the first time and, if necessary, colored glazes can be applied before a second firing.

In the picture we see Francesco Fasano at work in his studio. Thanks for the picture, Francesco.

By Tiziana Manzetti

 

Introducing the Italian ceramics by Francesco Fasano

Fasano centerpiece bowlIn a city like Grottaglie, where pottery making is one of the main resources, Francesco Fasano’s ceramics stand out for their unusual designs, sophisticated elegance and technical superiority.

Francesco’s ancestors established in Grottaglie in the 17th century and his family has been in the ceramic business for generations. He grew up in his father’s Cosimo ceramic studio and the passion for pottery was enhanced by his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, where he learnt to use different methods and was very much influenced by the patterns and decorative motifs of the Eastern cultures.

As a matter of fact Francesco’s pottery and dinnerware are a harmonious blend of styles, so unique that his pieces cannot be mistaken for anybody else’s. His favorite production method is  known as “sgraffito” – in English “scratched”.  He applies a layer of engobe or liquid clay on a leather hard pottery piece. When dry he  scratches the layer to form a design and reveal the clay color underneath. After the first kiln firing he applies glassy, intensely colored glazes, one by one, firing the pottery up to 3 times.

The result is just amazing: a real treat for Italian pottery lovers.
By Tiziana Manzetti

Essential kitchen knives

Essential kitchen knives A set of quality kitchen knives is what you need for a good start in serious home cooking. Having made this fundamental point, the next question is:  which knives should be included in the essential kitchen knives set?

1 - CHEF’S KNIFE
 Chef's knife - handcrafted by Berti of ItalyA chef’s knife is a must-have in the kitchen: it cuts, minces, slices, dices, and chops. You’ll spend a great deal of time together, you and your chef’s knife, so take your time to select  the chef’s knife that you feel is right for you and be prepared to drop a pretty penny on it. One thing you should not absolutely compromise on is the quality of the stainless steel: it must be premium quality, high carbon steel.

2 – PARING KNIFE
Paring knife - handcrafted by Berti of ItalyA paring knife is good for precision jobs, like peeling, coring and larding. It’s the ideal partner of the chef’s knife and its opposite in many ways:  a paring knife is small, light, with a thin blade that usually tapers to a point. You may even want to purchase two of them, one with a straight edge, and one with a serrated edge.

3 - BREAD KNIFE
Bread knife - handcrafted by Berti of ItalyNo other knife is able to slice perfectly through a freshly made croissant or a crunchy loaf of bread without smashing them into crumbles. It does an excellent job with ripe tomatoes and anything that has a hard shell with a soft inside. A good bread knife lasts a lifetime, as a serrated blade maintains a sharp edge for many years.

Deruta pottery from the kiln

We have just visited Eugenio Ricciarelli in his studio in Deruta and he was about to open his kiln after the firing. It was loaded with lovely serving bowls, fruit bowls and other geometric pottery.

We took some pictures to show you one of the most breathtaking moments in the life of a pottery maker: will everything be safe and sound?  By Tiziana Manzetti

Deruta potter Eugenio Ricciarelli opens his kiln

 

Deruta potter Eugenio Ricciarelli inspects his fruit bowls    Deruta potter Eugenio Ricciarelli inspects his fruit bowl

Deruta potter Eugenio Ricciarelli inspects his serving bowls    Deruta potter Eugenio Ricciarelli inspects his serving bowl

 

An old clay pot from Grottaglie

We’ve mentioned that Grottaglie has been popular for many centuries for the quality and variety of its functional pottery. We’ve found a great picture to show you.
This is an old “pignata ferrata”, a vessel used to cook legumes, tasty ingredients of the local cuisine. Indeed, one of the most popular dish in the area is broad beans & chicory.
The iron net you see on the pot was applied to add resistance to the vessel!
By Tiziana Manzetti
 Old clay pot from Grottaglie - Credits Simone Mirto and Mimmo Vestita

Broad beans and chicory - Credits PugliaLovers.it 

Sharing some lovely pictures about Grottaglie

We have recently added to our website a page about Grottaglie, a charming town in Puglia where industrious potters have been making vessels and more or less functional ceramics for many centuries.
Grottaglie pottery is pretty famous here in Italy, especially for the production of the last century, when the functional pottery has been replaced by lovely home décor accents ad and sophisticated dinnerware.
Today we ran into an article published on “La Repubblica”, a national newspaper, with very interesting pictures about Grottaglie and its heritage. Enjoy!
by Tiziana Manzetti 

Grottaglie and its pottery - Credits: "La Repubblica"    Grottaglie and its pottery - Credits: "La Repubblica"

Grottaglie and its pottery - Credits: "La Repubblica"    Grottaglie and its pottery - Credits: "La Repubblica" 

About a holiday in Sicily (and Sicilian pottery of course)

Just back from a holiday in Sicily! I spent a few days in Palermo then drove to the South to visit the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento.
It was my first time in Palermo and I had a blast. Palermo is so beautiful, so lively and so different from any other city I know: every corner hides a surprise. I will not mention how good the food and the weather were … don’t want to ruin your day!
As usually I was elated by the genuine beauty of Sicilian pottery, especially tiles and panels. I discovered them in the most unusual places: in the magnificent Cathedral in Palermo, in the narrow streets of Monreale, in the Museum of Anthropology in Agrigento, as stair risers on a house in Porto Empedocle.
The last day I stumbled upon a real treasure. I was visiting Palazzo Mirto in Palermo, the palace of a noble family recently opened to the public  and I noticed a precious collection of Sicilian Lumiere.
by Tiziana Manzetti
My postcards from Sicily

Lovely floor tiles at the Museum in Agrigento

Antique Sicilian floor tiles

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