Kick wheel versus electric wheel, Mediterranean wheel, versus Japanese/American wheel: the debate about which is the best goes on steadily at La Meridiana. The gentleman in the picture has tested many types and found this very popular model adequate for a diverse use. Please do share your opinion on behalf!
This year we have started in time to heat up the pizza kiln and get out the winter humidity. It’s the appropriate way to finish a ceramic workshop and continue to foster creativity with beautiful reds (tomato sauce) whites ( mozzarella ) blacks (olives). Check out this new pano from La Meridiana.http://www.360cities.net/image/making-pizza-at-la-meridiana#325.40,37.00,70.0
There is a small town in Italy that is a Must for ceramic lovers. The city of Faenza has been Italy’s most famous ceramic center — so much so that “faience” earthenware is synonymous with painted, low fire ceramics around the world. On the eastern side of the Italian boot, it is only a three hour train ride away from Florence.
Now I am not sure if I should call this ride adventurous, comfortable, easy or breathtaking! Probably a bit of all. Certainly it’s off the beaten tracks.
The roadways have been built at the end of the 18th century crossing the back spine of Italy, the Apennine mountains, quite a monumental realization, with bridges and tunnels in carved stone . Today most travelers use the fast train via Bologna, but this small, two coach train trails off slowly on winding ways and does offer gorgeous views of little known, wilder mountain landscape.
Upon arrival in Faenza two fabulous museums and many ceramic studios are there to explore:
MIC – International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza – www.micfaenza.org
The Museum was founded in 1908, as a reference point for ancient, modern and contemporary ceramics in Italy and throughout the world. Here the opinion of Marta Matray:
“..they have an unbelievable collection of pre-Columbian
pots, roman and Greek pots, Asian pots, renaissance,
majolica, modern (Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, etc)
the best of European ceramics collection, winners of
their yearly international competitions since 1935!”
Museo Carlo Zauli – www.museozauli.it
For centuries Maiolica (majolica in English), was the sole medium of expression for local artisans. Until Carlo Zauli came along, an innovator with explosive influence. The museum offers an anthological itinerary of the ceramicist’s live and work of innovation and experimentation one of the most important ceramic sculptors of the twentieth-century, from the early 50’s to the 90’s.
are qualities you will find in students that venture abroad. Yesterday the third group of students has arrived for a three month study, live and art making experience in Certaldo Alto, welcomed by the major, the Certaldo alto community and by an inspired welcome speech hold by Pietro Maddalena:
Life on earth binds us people to one another; none of us is here without the
other, so I would like to begin by paying homage to each of you and thank also all those anonymous workers, makers and thinkers that throughout the millennia have transformed this part of the world into such a beautiful place where we can nourish our intellects and souls. They have paved the path that leads us all here today, where we can forge new friendships, expand our human qualities and pursue a unique learning experience.
My name is Pietro. I studied as an engineer first and then, in England, as a potter. I have been, with great satisfaction, a maker all my life. I have been sharing my knowledge for more than 30 years running a ceramic school. It has been an endlessly fulfilling experience.
So why are we here? I believe it’s for education. What does education mean? Here are a couple of definitions: Education is the progressive realization of our ignorance.- Albert Einstein. Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. -Oscar Wilde
It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life. At a time when our society changes so fast and technology is overwhelming your effort in education will give an invaluable lifeline to the past. And the past does matter. History has shaped the way we view the present , and therefore it dictates what answers we offer to exiting problems.
Whether it’s climate change or terrorism, economic recovery or the spread of nuclear weapons, the defining challenges of our time are shared challenges. The only way forward, the only way to solve these problems, is by working together. That is why it is so important for young people to live and study in each other’s countries. That is why, each of us, should develop the habit of cooperation, by immerging ourselves into someone else’s culture, by sharing our stories and letting them share theirs, by taking the time to get past the stereotypes and misperceptions that too often divide us.But you all know this. That explains why you are here.
What can I say but “bravo” !!!!
When questioned about intercultural development, 98 percent of respondents said that study abroad helped them to better understand their own cultural values and biases, and 82 percent replied that study abroad contributed to their developing a more sophisticated way of looking at problems and in considering solutions.
The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. So in conclusion let me make a couple of recommendations: Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.
But, above all, keep shooting for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Find out more about study abroad at La Meridiana:
It’s almost a tradition by now: Richard Phethean for the third time opens our workshop season with his throwing course.
An excert from the Introduction of The New Ceramics: Throwing
I enrolled at Camberwell Art College in 1971 and during my foundation year spent a week of making pots on the wheel under the guidance of Colin Pearson. His throwing demonstrations were captivating and mesmerizing, he was a great teacher and I was immediately hooked.
It is nearly four decades since that magic moment. I have made a career from making pots and teaching others to make pots. In 1979, in my first small studio in South London I took students for one-to-one tuition in throwing. It occurred to me that this was analogous with music tuition, where visits to a specialist teacher, for practical and technical guidance, punctuate hours of solo practice. These sessions taught me to identify the critical points in the throwing process to a student and in 1990 I was able to incorporate these in my first published book on Throwing. My aim was simply to produce a really solid practical guide.
This book aims to mix that important technical advice with a passion and enthusiasm for pots. Making pots, using pots and appreciating the form of pots. Whether you attend a regular pottery classes, are an enthusiastic amateur with a studio space of your own or are setting out on a career as a professional, there is a huge amount of pleasure to be had from learning to make, refine and finish pots made on the potter’s wheel.
Sections in brief:
• Preparation – equipment, tools and clay
• Basic Skills – analysing technique, throwing simple generic shapes, troubleshooting, finishing and refining
• Making domestic pots – examining the form, function and design of utilitarian pots and how to make them
• Advanced skills- increasing scale, manipulating, altering and distorting, composite and sculptural forms
• The artist potter – the thoughts and personal approaches of selected contemporary makers
The history of vessel making in this way is as ancient as civilisation itself. Many classic periods, in pottery terms, produced wares of such outstanding simple beauty, that they continue to inspire new devotees of the craft.
Today the approaches to throwing are as varied as in any field of the arts and crafts.
The spectrum spans the diverse use of clays glazes and firing techniques, from the delicate translucency of porcelain to the robust earthiness of terra cotta, from vibrant primary colour to subtle natural hues, and from the familiar homeliness of domestic ware to the dramatic impact of sculpture.
There are potters for whom the discipline of technical excellence is crucial to their working life and the quality their output, but there are others who have opted to exploit the expressive and accidental nuances of a freestyle use of the wheel who are unbound by the strict application of the conventions.
This book embraces and celebrates this diversity and offers encouragement to explore, experiment, expand and improve your throwing skills.
The ceramic classes at La Meridiana are small enough to favor friendships. To keep in the loop, we have started this blog, as a way to keep the news flowing and hoping that you will enjoy to be in touch.
Students often ask us how life is at La Meridiana in winter. The workshop season is over, no more teachers, crazy artists, eager students, just Pietro, the staff, the dogs and the cat. And without Lucia, which means we go on a diet of simple and fast to prepare foods, occasionally interwoven by an access of pride, where everyone in turn wants to show off with his/her best dish. However, the real quite season does not start until now, January, as we have some important activities taking place after the last workshop in October, the most important being the ceramic class for our new college level student programme in collaboration with ECU. ( To learn more visit: http://italyintensives.tumblr.com/ http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cfac/italy/index.cfm )Young American students in the La Meridiana studio. What would you think has been the biggest issue during the 5 weeks of class? Ceramic techniques- Aesthetic considerations? Art versus Craft? Inspiration versus transpiration? No, the big debate was about music! These students live with a constant earplug and love to sing along their favorite songs. Nothing in common with the concentrated silence a certain teacher considers crucial for fruitful learning. There was much discussion about the influence of silence/ music on creativity but no final verdict and as a practical outcome hours of silence in the mornings and dance hall level music in the afternoons.
What does music to you?