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Hills of Chianti covered by vineyard and olive treesHow does a student experience the course days at La Meridiana? Certainly, the studio is the fulcrum around which everything rotate. It’s nothing but normal that everyone wants to spend the maximum of time possible in the studio and we make an effort to meet that goal –But then there are the lunches, the evenings, the side trips. The amazing surrounding that calls for discovery. The food and wines that are a highlight of Italian cuisine. After all, there are times when clay must dry. Cooking lessons, field trips, movie nights, pizza party, studio visits, these are a few or the activities that take place around the core of ceramics.

mario Mariani making a huge terracotta pot adding coils while walking backwardsThe amazing surrounding that call for discovery. The food and wines that are a highlight of Italian cuisine. After all, there are times when clay must dry. Cooking lessons, field trips, movie nights, pizza party, studio visits, these are a few or the activities that take place. The field trip to the Chiant region, the rolling hills that conjure up images of garnet red wine brimming in the glass, ends with the visit to Mario Mariani ( who is born the same day as Rick Hensley, our dear potter friend from Floyd Florida!)Green porcelain jar by Rick Hensley He is the “last samurai” of the traditional Tuscan Terracotta making. The huge bellbottomed jars, so called “orcio” once were used to store the liquid gold of Tuscany, ( I assume you know that I am talking about olive oil), the grand terracotta vases where first designed to accommodate the immense collection of lemon trees of the Medici family, trees which in the colder winter season need to be recovered inside. The visit to Mario Mariani’s workshopBottega of Mario Mariani, a traditional working space for terra cotta making is astonishing, it takes you back to former times, so much is everything simple and essential, including the method and tools used to make fabulous, elegant, perfectly shaped pots which will be wood fired in a kiln larger than a living room. The shape is so perfect, just adding large coil after large coil, taking measurements with a cane stick. Terracotta is the Italian word that literally means “baked earth” meaning terra both, clay and earth.http://www.lameridiana.fi.it/certaldo_florence_italy.htm

Group of ceramicists visiting Mario Mariani in Impruneta, in front of his wood firing kiln

Ciao Mario!

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