The Difference among Pottery, Ceramics and Majolica, with Special Regard to Italian Ceramics

Italian ceramics, or Italian pottery, have been in my life for quite a long time: I collect them, I read about them, I sell them.Sicilian Head Planter Vase by Ceramiche Sofia, a most skilled pottery maker from Caltagirone

In Italian, when I say ceramica, everybody understands what I mean. On the contrary, when I talk with one of my American friends, I’m always uncertain: should I say Italian pottery, Italian ceramics or Italian majolica?

In order to do away with any doubt, I did some research. I did learn quite a lot on the subject, and I would love to share my findings with you.

Let’s start with technicalities.

Here is a short review of the definition of the words Ceramics, Pottery and Majolica.

Once we know exactly what we are talking about, we will define what they really mean to people.

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Handmade Italian Ceramics: how to spot a fake

Learn how to tell if the Italian pottery you are considering purchasing is authentic.

Raffaellesco is one of the most faked Italian pottery designsBefore you close the deal of your life and pay an incredibly low price for what looks like a stunning piece of Deruta pottery, you may want to take a few minutes and learn how to spot fake Italian ceramics.

Lots of nice looking ceramic pieces are machine stamped and sold as original handmade Italian ceramics. Possibly from reputable regions, like Deruta.

Spotting fake Italian ceramics is possible and quite easy. Follow these simple steps.

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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

Collecting Italian Art Ceramics: Ab Ovo Gallery

Ab Ovo is a small art gallery, hidden in a side alley in Todi, that is becoming increasingly popular among applied art collectors.

Its founder and owner, Leonardo Persico, and his partner, the acclaimed art jeweler Jacqueline Ryan, have been doing a great selection job over the last three years, presenting the works of Italian and European artists with a constant eye on quality.

Manuela and I met Leonardo in our first visit to the Gallery. We walked in by chance, attracted by a small signpost on the main street. He welcomed us, surrounded by amazing ceramics by Kati Junger and Christiane Wilhelm, cute textile accessories, hand made art jewels and one–of- a-kind furniture and objects of Peter Heidhoff.

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Riccardo Biavati – Poems, Dreams, Secrets and Tales

Until January 2011
Chiavari – Italy

Riccardo Biavati was born in 1950 in Ferrara. As a child, he loved to listen to the tales his grandfather invented for him. In an interview to Marialivia Brunelli he admitted that he never left the fairy world that he inhabited during his childhood. It’s a parallel world, where dreams come true and frogs, owls and blackbirds are familiar figures in the landscape. He calls them “his personal archaeology”, that he playfully combines with ancestral elements: the sun, the moon, the sea, wind, fire and, most importantly, mother earth.

Biavati’s works positively exude emotions and dreams. It’s part of their charm and you can’t help to feel light hearted and … smile.

“Poesie  Sogni  Segreti e Racconti”
Galleria d’Arte “Cristina Busi”  Chiavari
via Martiri della Liberazione 195/2 Chiavari (Genoa)
Ph. +39 0185 311937

Your Christmas Travel Guide to Italian Pottery Events: Ceramic Nativity Scenes in Grottaglie

Dec. 11, 2010 – Jan. 9, 2011
Otranto – Italy

Italian Pottery - Ceramic Nativity scene - Photo credits: www.puglialive.netGrottaglie has been a hot spot for pottery making in Italy since the Middle Ages thanks to its distinctive style and its varied shapes.

The production of Nativity scenes made of painted terracotta started in the 19th century. The figurines were very small: shepherds, angels, the three Kings, Mary, Joseph and Jesus being the key miniature characters of a tiny yet detailed landscape.

At the end of the 19th century the Nativity scenes made in Grottaglie were so popular that many pottery makers specialized in this peculiar art, making celebrated masterpieces. The most famous artists were Petraroli, Manigrasso, Micera, Esposito, Peluso.

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Brajo Fuso – A Certain Idea of Ceramics

Nov. 13, 2010 – Jan. 9, 2011
Torgiano, Italy

Italian Ceramics - A Certain idea of Ceramics - Brajo Fuso (1899-1980)Thirty years after his death, Umbria celebrates Brajo Fuso with two exhibitions.

The first one aims to sketch for the visitors the portrait of this eclectic Italian artist thru his paintings, sculptures and jewels. The other exhibition focuses on his ceramic works and, thanks to the curatorial effort of Giulio Busti and Franco Cocchi, it promises to cast some new light on Brajo’s creative path.

Brajo Fuso (1899-1980) is considered one of the most representative Italian artists of the 20th century. In 1943, in the middle of a successful medical doctor career, he started experimenting with color paints and wood, strings and clay, and any material that aroused his creativity.

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Women’s Hours

Sept. 29, 2010 – April 3, 2011
Naples – Italy

Painter from Licurgo- Wedding scene - 350 b.C. - Photo credits: www.palazzomontanari.comHow did women live 2500 years ago in the Mediterranean regions? An answer to this question is provided by a splendid exhibition, now open in Naples. It features thirty vases made between the 5th and the 3rd century b.C. and found in Ruvo di Puglia, an area in the South of Italy that at the time was part of the Great Greece.

Using the typical red figure technique, the pottery makers painted on their vases scenes from women’s daily life.

Queens in their own house, they spent there most of their time. They are depicted while busy in their homely chores, weaving colorful fabrics for their clothes, nursing their children, leaving their bedrooms to meet their husbands in the thalamos, the common bedroom. Outside their house, wedding celebrations and death rituals were women’s most important public activities. Continue reading

Meeting Italian ceramic artists: Mirta Morigi

Italian Ceramics - Works by Mirta Morigi - Photo credits: www.racine.ra.itWhen I stepped through the old door into Mirta’s bottega it felt like I was traveling back in time, when technology did not own our lives and working meant “laboring”.
Biscotto piled up on every shelf, sketches pinned all around, brushes, easels, pieces at different production stages, busy people sitting at small desks, the perennial grayish dust of clay everywhere. Nobody seemed to pay any attention to me, and I was really wondering if I had misinterpreted the indications I’d found on Mirta’s showroom window in the main street of Faenza.

Then a nice girl looked up from her half-painted plate and asked me if I was looking for Mirta. A hesitant “yes, I am,” and I was told, “She’s in the back room”. Impossible not to feel at home! Continue reading

Evolution Art Revolution – Italian ceramic genius at work

Italian Ceramics - Evening dress "Nike of Samothrace" - Photo credits: Evolution Art RevolutionWe’ve already told you how /r/evolutionary this event aims to be. Today we’ll tell you more about one of the projects presented in the exhibition Evolution Art Revolution. It’s the innovative combination of fashion and ceramic, both strictly made in Italy.

Here is the story, a truly cute one.

Nicola Boccini is the key character. He is the founder of the CLS (Free Experimental Ceramics Association) and an extremely knowledgeable ceramicist, with a significant technical experience. He is very focused on new processes and techniques that add to the properties of ceramic, thus making it suitable for more functional purposes than the traditional ones. Continue reading