Youth is a Gift of Nature but Age is a Work of Art


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A quote by Stanislaw Jerzy Lec that is the theme of a show of masters: Old hands in clay (at  University of Wisconsing, UW Parkside Fine Arts Gallery, in The Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for the Arts and Humanities 900 Wood Rd, Kenosha, 262-595-2565, An exhibition of the work of noted clay artists over the age of 70.

Van Pilcher

Van Pilcher


Verne Funk

Verne Funk

Jim Bova

Joe Bova

Joe Bova:
“Animal Imagery is the enduring subject of my art. Often social and political commentary art, it sometimes involves eroticism and humor. Figuration is the constant. Animals are more present than the human figure, often being combined. Decoration , for its own sake, has never interested me. Vitality of gesture in the clay does. I believe making art and understanding art requires intellectual rigor, yet is fundamentally a somatic experience. I want the clay to “stand forth” recognized for itself, while it also conveys other realities.”

Lory Leary,  touched by Joe Bovas art.

Lory Leary, touched by Joe Bovas art.


Ageless and Timeless. Inuit sculpture, sculpted in a whales vertebra.

Ageless and Timeless. Inuit sculpture, sculpted in a whales vertebra.


Ceramic Art seen at NCECA 2014


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Every year, along with the NCECA conference, there is a rich offer of great shows. Galleries, museums and universities contribute to the effort of broad view of the scene. Below a random selection of great works.
Beth Cavener MAM 02

Ceramic sculpture of a hare, tangled up by a huge snake

Beth Cavener. Tangled up in you

Outside view of the white buiding complex of the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Calatrava.

The Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Santiago Calatrava

Ceramic scultpture showing Leda and the swan

Gerit Grimm. Leda

Folk art figurines

Folk art at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Porcelain platters decorated with a skull and skeletton

Valentine by Michelle Erikson

Bowl with lustre

The appeal of lustre

Plate with blown Ink Crane design

Plate with blown Ink Crane design. Japan,ca. 1640 -50

A teapot

A teapot


Ceramic sculòpture by Cristina Cordova

Cristina Cordova. Tiempo sin memoria 2008










Interesting things witnessed in the USA and Canada



When travelling you always come across some funny, strange and amazing things. Below the selection of our preferred peculiar images form our trip to NCECA 2014 in Milwaukee and then on to Toronto.

Tandem wiht many biker helmets attached.

How many bikers at a time could use this tandem?

Figurative Ceramic sculpture representing a just woke up man in underware

Interesting guy in Wisconsin University Library

Painting of an iced up waterfall in Canada

19th century vision of an icy waterfall in Canada

Icy Niagara Falls, seen from the tower

Iced up Niagara Falls

Pietro Maddalena dressed with cowboyhat and top coat

Who is this shot-gun-man?





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Jeff Shapiro plans a tour to Italy, with a hands – on portion to La Meridiana. He has been an itinerant ceramicist, a wanderer, a woodfirer, to the end of gathering information, impressions and understanding. His sensitiveness and wit, the sharing of cultural understanding and wide knowledge of ceramic practices will make this trip special. Dates are Oct 23-Nov 5, 2014
Jeff shapiro shown in the studio of Carlo Zauli in FaenzaOutdoor pieces in ceramics by Jeff Shapiro
round pot with dark glaze and lighter, running glaze on top. Wood fired by Jeff ShapiroAltered vessel by Jef f Shapiro, woodfired with beautyful orange tone and richely textured surface

Jeff invitation to join the trip: “I am writing about the upcoming Italy trip I will lead that has been in the works for over a year. It will first be offered to the patrons of Peters Valley Craft Center, and I will be collaborating with my good friend, and the head of the Ceramic Department- Bruce Dehnert. I believe there will be a number of places available to other people outside of the Peters Valley community, although the number of places available is limited due to the intimate settings of studios we will visit. The trip is filled with wonderful #Italianexperiences. Please visit my newly updated web site JEFFSHAPIROCERAMICS.COM to view the detailed itinerary ( press the International Tours tab), and let me know as soon as possible if you or someone you know may be interested.

Jeff Shapiro
Jeff Shapiro has led a number of very successful trips to Japan over the past 25 years. And he has led ceramics programs to Italy as well. He has built 2 wood fired kilns in Italy: 1 near Siena, and 1 in the mountains not far from the Italian Riviera. He has exhibited in Torino and most recently in Faenza from work made at the Carlo Zauli studio. He will lead a workshop in Rome in summer and again in fall.

The programs to Japan and Italy have all been successful due to the intimate relationships that Shapiro has developed with artists and artisans in both countries. This upcoming trip to Italy is also very special in that it draws upon the relationships built up over the past 12 years in Italy. The itinerary is full of ceramic and food related experiences, as well as excursions to some of Italy’s most beloved places. 1 week will be spent in the area of Certaldo, a lovely, historic hilltop town from the Renaissance period. Participants will get to use the ceramic facility at La Meridiana where we will make work, load, and fire. There is no level of experience necessary for this hands on workshop portion of the trip.

If you look at the itinerary, you will see how rich of an experience it will be. Feel free to ask for testimonials from past participants.

Oct 23- Nov 5, 2014
* 2 nights at 5 star hotel in Rome with breakfast
* 1 Dinner in Rome
* Half day private tour of Rome with art historian
* 1 wine tasting and tapas in Rome
* Sistine Chapel
* Private transport from Rome to Todi and Orvieto (full day)
* Artist studio visits in Todi and Orvietto
* Entrance and reservation to Catacombs and church of Orvietto
* 1 night stay at hotel in Orvietto
* Dinner in Orvietto
* Train from Orvietto to Faenza
* 1 night at traditional and historic hotel in Faenza with breakfast
* Dinner at Vittoria
* Train from Faenza to Certaldo
* 7 nights accommodation at La Meridiana
* 7 lunches or dinners at La Meridiana or other venue
* Breakfast each day
* Instruction with Jeff Shapiro in collaboration with Bruce Dehnert
* Introduction by Pietro Maddalena
* Clay, firing and studio space
* Studio open from 8:00am-8:00pm.
* Wine tasting at La Meridiana
* Italian food demonstration
* Admission to 4 museums
* Day trip excursion with private bus to Volterra historic town and
Etruscan museum
* Day trip to San Gimignano
* 1 day trip by train to Siena
* La Meridiana bus from La Meridiana to Florence
* 2 nights stay at 5 star hotel in Florence with breakfast
* Entrance and reservation to Uffizi Museum in Florence
* Farewell dinner in Florence

For further information:
* Jeff Shapiro
* Custom Tours






NCECA 2014 – Come and find us at table T53!


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An image that shows the enviornment of La Meridiana International School of Ceramics in Tuscany

It’s already spring in Tuscany but we are packing winter jackets, stocking caps, scarves and mittens for our journey to Milwaukee. If you are lucky enough to attend NCECA this year, please come and find us at table T53. Meet up with Pietro Maddalena and Claudia Bruhin for a chat, a request, a comment,  or to breathe some “Italian” air. You may K 12 scool teachers wrking on a project with claywant to pick up one of our new posters! Or discover the programme  we are working on for school teachers, a possibility to gain CEU points while you are travelling and working in clay in Tuscany.


Woman Working in Clay


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Our long time friend and instructor of many workshops, Donna Polseno is the organizer of this interesting symposium.
Woman working in Clay is a simposium with a variety of topics ranging from scupture, functional ware  to conceptual contents.
Join us June 9-12 for the
Women Working Clay Symposium
at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA.
This year’s symposium features an incredible
group of potters as well as
keynote speaker, Raheleh Filsoofi.
Thrown pot,s till on the wheel
To sign up click here

Test. Find out if you are more suited for throwing or for sculpture


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Three pots in the shape of monstruous figures with hughe heads, made of ceramics by Federico BonaldiIf you struggle to find the course for you in the vast programme 2014 here is a test to guide your choice.

You find yourself in blooming field of flowers. Your instinct is
a) to pick a bouquet of flowers.
b) to inhale deeply and run through the field.
Repetition to you means
a) the unique, necessary practice to get hold of new capabilities.
b ) a meditative ritual of deep meaning.
The rotating dance of the dervishes evokes
a) overcoming of obstacles through the driving force of life.
b ) the infinite.
At the restaurant, in front of a delicious dish you will
a) try to identify the ingredients in order to reproduce the dish at home.
b) think of a good reason to return to the restaurant.
If you have answered mostly a)
 Beautyful example of  a large, found pitcher with orange glazing with  splashed on grey glaze.You are a responsive person who prefers to be surrounded by meaningful objects, to be used in everyday life. You are sensitive to historical meaning and have a keen respect for skills that have been passed down from generation to generation. Making functional pot, learning throwing skills is of deep satisfaction to you, because as Michael Cardew puts it: Pottery is about one thing only: the majesty of form.
This is the recommended course for you. Throwing Marathon with Pietro Maddalena. Click on the image for further information

If you have answered mostly b)
You feel the urge to give material shape to the images and emotions that your fertile fantasy suggest to your mind. Sculpture is your thing, but remember what said by Michael Cardew :
Clay is a fatally difficult material. Paradoxically the most difficult material in the world to use because it’s the easiest. It is absolutely obedient to anything you ask it to do, however awful.
These courses are suitable for you : Relief carving and surface illustration with Richard Notkin and Jason Walker. For intermediate or advanced.                                               Sculpture and woodfiring with Donna Polseno. For all.
Sculpture of a deer in clay with meaningful surface decoration and elements that make it an ironic work of art with ecological critique.Clay sculpture of a large dark woman with surface decoration of relief carving, carrying a clay pot on her head.






If you have answered a) and b ) equally
Your versatile and profound personality sometimes leave you uncertain about decisions to take. You will find yourself in what was said by Daniel Rhodes :
Pottery making is a kind of adventure in which, if one is successful, one finds, in the end, oneself. It involves the risk of self-revelation. It offers the chance of making a synthesis of one’s physical self, the co-ordination of hand and eye, the handwriting of one’s skills, with a philosophy, a point of view, a statement of values.
These are the courses recommended to you:

Cilindric lamps made in ceramics with perforated surface, built by beginner ceramic students in Greece.

Light and Shadow, taught by Angeliki Papodopoulou

Delicate white flowers made of paerclay with porcelain for a subtle effect.

Paperclay with Porcelain taught by Antonella Cimatti

K-12 teachers: 6 good reasons for taking a workshop and earn Continuing Education Credits


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1. Credits guaranteed through Montana State University-Billings.making of a freestanding clay coloumn, showing how to ceramicists add elements on top of each other
2 credits of Graduate level Professional Development are available for teachers through the School of Education, offered by the Department of Art at $199/credit.
2. Work on a variety of self-contained projects by which your teaching practice will be greatly informed. You will go home with an all-round knowledge of projects, adaptable to a variety of situations at schools, that are electrifying for your students. Not only will you have a complete walkthrough of reliable techniques, but ideas that can be realized in a variety of specific situations for embellishment of school buildings or other community spaces, like wall panels or fountains, free standing arches or columns, perfect for shared learning.
3. A two week workshop during summer vacation that allows toK 12 student working on a clay tile combine your love for travel and cultural exploration with the need of earning Continuing Educational Credits. It takes place in the inspiring beauty of the Tuscan hills, close to cultural centres of Western art and civilization like Florence and Siena.
4. A hand’s on experience in clay that will get you in touch with clay artists from around the world with a variety of backgrounds, not only teachers.
5. Your partner or friends may come too, this workshop is open to everybody! If not interested in clay, they may participate in the cultural and culinary explorations, relax and enjoy and free time during the studio part of the workshop. Detailed programme
6. Great value for money:
Cost: double/shared room Euro 2100 – single room Euro 2400Architectural arch in the stage of compositino, laying out on a table square elements built precisely includes single supplement
The workshop fee includes the following:
Welcome dinner and welcome breakfast .
A freshly prepared full Tuscan lunch with wine on all working days
Tuition (class is 6/7 hours per day with 12 hours studio time)
Materials and firings
Field trips to San Gimignano, the medieval city of towers, and Volterra
to visit the Guarnacci Museum of Etruscan Art. Sunday we’llskylight covered with coloured tiles visit Siena.
Load and fire our pieces in the large double chamber wood kiln.
Farewell party.

And which is this fabulous workshop? Shape,
Paddle and Pasta!

Formulation of high temperature glazes and clay bodies: no secrets!


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Mountain range, showing typical stripes of different colour due to minerals and oxidesThe earth’s crust is made for 90% of materials useful to the potter: elements for clay bodies and glazes. “In the beginning there was clay”… even Christian mythology makes clay the honored material of the beginning of human life on earth.
While touching clay is immediate and spontaneous, developing skills further arouses many questions about bodies and glazes. If we have a glaze with a special quality and look in mind, how can we obtain it? It’s not easy to identify elements and how their combination affects the final characteristics.Buckets with different clay glazes, stones with different contents of minerals and oxides, glaze testsIMGP0007

IMGP0001Learning successfully is more probable if guided by an expert. And we are lucky enough to have a man of infinite expertise at La Meridiana: John Colbeck

He has been of support to Pietro Maddalena in the early years of La Meridiana as international expert, teaching the fundamentals of ceramics and throwing to a generation of Italian potters, many of them professionals today . His elegance and his all british aplomb are a myth, as is his knowledge that has the depth and vastness of an ocean. And he is John Colbeck while he is checking on glaze tests made at La meridiana International School of Ceramcis in Tuscanyloved for its profound humanity. Chemical formulas and physical processes, ingredients and their combinations unfold with ease in his lectures which are always accompanied by images and examples. As a result of 30 years of research activity tests are abundant at La Meridiana. John will teach an intense weekend on high temperature clay bodies and glazes 8 and 9 of March 2014. It is guided by the motto- Where ceramic has no secrets . A motto that is a tribute to all the potters who over time have shared and continue to share their knowledge and experience, making the potter’s a real community.
For details about the weekend workshop click below.Glaze tests of high temperature glaze

Juliet and Romeo (or Romea ) – The perfect ceramic course together !


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Are you a ceramist, but your friends do not share your passion ? Would you like to dedicate yourself entirely to ceramics during your holidays, but your partner snorts ? Green Grass and red pupies in spring in Tuscany, as during the Easter workshop with Maria Garzuly for screen print on clayLet’s face it! We have developed a ceramic course, fascinating for both, potters and relatives.  During Easter vacation, six days of spring in Tuscany!
We will make a book, chore approachable by anyone because done with the use of plaster molds . It is going to be a DIARY, on which clay pages we will print personal stories, using an ancient, sophisticated and surprising technique: Screen print. Each participant will be invited to bring a small collection of writings or images, with Ceramic objects decorated with screen print technique screenprint 2 Screenprint 6which to create an artifact that echoes emotions . The potter takes hold of a technique that opens vast horizons for the decoration of functional objects and equally well for Silkscreen print shoving a vortex in black and redpanels or jewelry, the beginner will create an artistic object and learn a versatile technique that can be applied also on other media.
Briefly on silkscreen print: This ancient technique comes from China. In Europe it has been widely used since its introduction in the early 1900s on a variety of surfaces, including textiles, ceramics , wood, stone.

Juliet and Romeo (or Romea ! )
Those who register with a friend or partner will pay a discounted price of 800 € each.

For sign up please write to

Register now to save 160 €




Ceramic books with relief print of hands


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