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.
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