Ceramics: Welcome to Italy’s Historical & Traditional Pastime

HeatherAnne By HeatherAnne, 9th Nov 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Antiques & Collectables>Ceramics

When we look to the masters of handcrafted items, we automatically think of Italy: traditional techniques rooted in tradition by skilled artisans.

The art of ceramics in Italy

The art of handmade ceramics is one that started like any other: deep rooted in history and culture, finding still a foothold in the market today. If you’ve ever been to Italy, Tuscany especially, your eye is immediately drawn to the exquisite shops that are cascading with colourful ceramics: dishes, bowls, salt and pepper shakers, oil and vinegar canisters and various knick knacks. If you peek inside any artisan shop, you may even see the artisan himself busy at work under the spotlight with his miniscule tools. Never a moment of rest for these artisans. It is an art and a pastime, not to mention a business, which has become the bread and butter of Italy.

The history of Italian ceramics in fact dates back to the Middle Ages, when their use became widespread in beautiful religious and public architecture. Italian majolica was the most common type that emerged at the time and is one that is still catching our eyes today: blue design set against a clean, white background. The original majolica in fact gathered its influence from Islamic and Moorish designs as did most architecture and even cuisine of that time that was influenced by foreign cultures.

The 12th century in Italy saw a rise in the ingobbiata majolica in Florence, Siena and Orvieto. This was essentially a type of pottery that became identified by its decorating process where a special white or colored coating is applied to the clay body of the product. This was followed by the rise of terracotta in the 15th century. In Italy, many regions were known for their particular types of ceramics and techniques, even today. Most popular are towns like Albisola in Liguria with its vibrant white and blue ceramic designs, or Faenza, which is an important ceramics producton center dating back to the Middle Ages.

Today, Tuscany still remains one of the major production points for Italian ceramics, such a sacred tradition passed down from generation to generation. Let’s look at some of the big players in Italy’s ceramic game:

Ceramica Kamars di Foderini: started by the Foderinis, a historical family of artisans in Chiusi, Kamars Ceramics utilizes the techniques used during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque Periods. Many of the artwork on their ceramics in fact channels some Etruscan inspiration and the clay technique to create a durable product is one that was used in the 1300s in Siena.

Ceramica d’arte Dolfi di Ivana Antonini: the artist of this Tuscan-based company is Ivana, the granddaughter who inherited the craft from her father and grandfather. Ivana produces classic majolica-style ceramics using the traditional potter’s wheel and completing everything by hand: from working the raw materials to painting the ceramics.

Lena Papdaki: Originally from Greece, she has lived for many years in Italy studying the Art of Majolica and Ceramics Technology. Her ceramics use ancient and original techniques like metallic luster, utilizing materials like silver and steel for an iridescent look, which gives her products their particular and characteristic look.

When it comes to telling a story, Italian ceramics say it all: designs that channel the inspiration of the region, techniques taken from ancient times and an unparalleled passion for this intricate expression of art.


Ceramics, Italy

Meet the author

author avatar HeatherAnne
I am a fellow American living and travelling around Italy, I love to write about culture, fashion and all things travel.

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