“Back”, the Italia Bellissima vase

when art meets craft skill

A pot, outcome of the collaborative effort between M. Arch. Andrea Capellino, founder, and P & G Ceramiche Artistiche. We discuss this with Marco Pimpinelli, head of the artisan company based near Perugia, in Italy.

Italia Bellissima “Back” vases, in majolica, are the result of a productive process carried out entirely by hand, using the long-standing techniques of “G & P Ceramiche Artistiche”. The shape recalls the soft and sensual curves of the Mediterranean woman, of her back, fascinating and maternal lines like the ones of the Italian landscape.

The most important steps of this process are hand-creation of the vase, starting from clay and using mechanical lathes. These machinery are employed by craftsmen to shape and mold items with the simply aid of water and their manual dexterity. Forging will be useful to give the vase a first shape (draft); it will necessarily need to be refined to bring it to the shape and to the desired final dimension by means of the next phase of turning.

The clay utilized is naturally occurring on the spot, extracted, refined and previously cleaned in the quarry before to come to the artisan workshop already available to treatment. This material originate from sedimentary rocks as igneous ones, which, through time, alter and decompose themselves. Depending on the area in which it is formed, and by layering with other materials, it may have different characteristics.

Subsequent to forging, you will have a first partial drying of the vase; partially expelled the water from its internal, the same may be workable and suited to the turning phase, yet. This last stage corresponds to the finishing of the vase, an operation that the craftsman perform using steel tools to remove the excess clay, partially dried. Thus, at the end of the process, you will have the final shape of the desired pot.

At this stage, it will be necessary a complete desiccation in such a way that the vase, internally devoid of water, will be ready for the first firing process. The first firing, as well as subsequent ones, take place inside of a gas or electric kilns; they are able to transform the clay pot in a terracotta vase, with a characteristic orange-pink color.

After the first firing (at 920/930 °C), the terracotta pot will be covered with white or colored glassy material, in this case using the spray gun technique. The colors derive from the processing of water and metal oxides that, applied manually by the craftsman, are allowed to dry out for a few minutes to finally pass in a kiln for a second firing, at 980 °C.

The feature of these vases is to be monochrome; therefore, every single “Italia Bellissima” vase, usually painted white, is decorated by hand using special brushes by the master craftsmen of “G & P Ceramiche Artistiche”, that make them unique with their skills. The interior is white crystalline, while the outside is produced in blue, green, red and yellow.

by Fabrizio Aimar