The Art Of Hand Painting Italian Ceramics

hand painting Italian ceramics

 hand painting Italian ceramics

When I visit ceramic artists studios in Italy, I often spend some time to just watch the master painters hand painting Italian ceramics. It’s absolutely enthralling.

Italian studio pottery is fine art, that has been refined over hundreds of years of inspired artistry in the expert hands of highly skilled artisans. The rich history of quality Italian workmanship forms the basis for this fine art. The artisans have devoted years to their training in order to perfect their techniques.

Authentic Italian ceramics are made from European red clay. After a piece dries and it’s fired the first time, it is dipped in a chalky white coating. Then the design is painted totally free hand with lead-free mineral glazes. After that, the item is fired again to bring out the colors of the different minerals.

The elaborate designs of hand painted Italian ceramics require hours of painstaking work. Everything can be spoiled with a single misplaced brush stroke.

hand painting Italian ceramics

Regardless of the intricacy of the style and design all of this hand-painting is done freehand.

There’s often an illustration or a pattern for the artist to follow, especially for traditional scenes. In the really good studios, the artists have been doing the patterns all their lives. Most don’t even really need an illustration to follow.

One particular challenge for artists hand painting Italian ceramics is the medium itself.

The glazes are all soft, white-ish pastels that change into deep exciting colors after firing.

Shades are often difficult to distinguish. An artist has got to keep track of which colors go where.

Considering the amazing range of colors required for detailed Italian ceramics patterns; it’s most definitely a career that entails plenty of practice and a systematic approach.

Hand Painting Italian Ceramics

Quite often a painter will do a number of pieces with the same design simultaneously. This, allows them to get into a groove of roosters, lemons or flowers. The glaze color and depth varies where brush strokes overlap so that no two pieces will ever be exactly alike.

The Art Of Hand Painting Italian Ceramics.

If you look carefully at an item of hand painted majolica and you may find a little speck of paint that's out of place, a partial fingerprint, or even a slight smudge on the glaze. There may be a loose fitting lid. This shows that its handcrafted work and forms part of what makes Italian maiolica so unique.

These imperfections show the hand of the artist and do not deflect from the value of the piece. It actually adds to its charm.

The colors the artist uses are produced with ground minerals. These are then diluted with water and applied to the ceramic piece by hand using various types of paint brushes. The brush the artist uses will depend on the type of painting or detail required on the surface.

hand painting Italian ceramics

The colors used for the final patterns will change hue after the second firing, so the artists need to foresee the end effect of each application.

It takes dedication to their craft, lots of practice and plenty of repetition to bring these stunning, functional artworks to life.

I’m so grateful there are still artists who continue this tradition. It means that we can enjoy Italian pottery today and into the future.

Adding Authentic Tuscan Ceramics Into Your Home Decor

authenticTuscan ceramics
authenticTuscan ceramics

Looking to add a little family charm to your new home? Look no further than Italy for inspiration. Try adding authentic Tuscan ceramics into your home decor.

Tuscan décor is well known for reflecting the values of the people who live there; it’s tactile, welcoming, and yet rooted in tradition. A celebration of life inspired by rustic villas, spectacular art, rolling countryside and the exquisite hand painted ceramics of the area.

From relaxed fruit and floral motifs to precise depictions of renaissance characters, fine Italian ceramics continue to set the standard for the craft the world over.

Italian ceramics make a stunning statement, whether in your kitchen, on your patio, or incorporated into some other nook in your home.

We can't all race off to Tuscany but we can bring a little bit of Italian charm home through texture, color, and accessories.

The Italian Kitchen

authenticTuscan ceramics

In Italy, the preparation and enjoyment of a meal is usually a long, un-rushed affair… having a beautiful space to cook, eat, and socialize is key.

At the center of the Tuscan kitchen is the kitchen table. Normally a wide-planked wooden table substantial and long-lasting, this is the true heart of the home. A gathering place for friends and family.

Traditional Tuscan kitchens have herbs hanging and flowers on the table in a ceramic vase. Italians are a people connected with the land.There needs to be a seamless transition between outdoors and the organic feel of the inside.

Simple touches like branches or dried flowers freshen a space and bring some of the outside freshness in. Hang a rope of Garlic, a bunch of dried lavender or a braid of onions to decorate your kitchen.

Hanging pots from wrought iron racks or overhead become decorative and practical.

Use glass bottles in racks, antique containers, and bright ceramic jars to add a rustic authenticity.

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Fresh fruit and vegetables displayed in bowls or on ceramic platters before being consumed lend a decorative touch.

Don't forget that perfect old world style Tuscan clock.

The Dining Room

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In Italy lemons, are a widely used design. You see bright yellow paired with deep cobalt blue or creamy white.

Cherries mixed with green leaves enliven plates, bowls, and pitchers of various sizes. Mixed fruit patterns are Italian favorites adding elegance to bowls and platters with colorful pears, peaches, grapes, apples, and quince.

A mixed fruit platter as a centerpiece looks fabulous full of food or empty. Mixing and matching the elements is easy as well. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get attractive pieces. Italian pottery is a beautiful art form and you are sure to enjoy collecting these pieces.

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Choose handmade accents whenever possible as you mix Italian ceramic pieces together to create a warm, eclectic space. Forget about trying to match everything. When your salad bowl doesn’t exactly match your plates it feels that much more authentic.

The charm of a rustic Italian table is hard to beat. A handmade tablecloth will transform your table into an Italian feast.

I use orange and gold shades that compliment darker dishware. The Tuscan decor style is closely tied to the warm friendly Italian tradition of hospitality. Pitchers filled with wines and water are scattered to so everyone has plenty to drink.

Small bowls filled with sauces will complement everybody's hand painted plates. Make sure they're big enough to fit a little bit of everything while adding a festive effect to your table.

A ceramic salad bowl large enough to toss greens for your entire group could also be used for a fragrant pasta dish.

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Platters that are stacked with cuts of meat and bowls of appetizing vegetables beg to be passed until diners can eat no more.

Peritivo and Antipasti: A drop of alcohol prepares the palate while small snacks prepare your stomach for the feast ahead. Meats, sliced cheese, or peppers served on ceramic Italian serving dishes.

Primo Piatto: For the first course, soup, pasta, gnocchi, risotto or polenta are traditional. A ceramic pasta serving bowl makes spaghetti to tortellini look gorgeous for your guests.

Secondo Piatto or Piatto di Mezzo: This second course has seafood, meat, poultry or game. For vegetarians, cooked cheese, an omelet, or a vegetable dish are great options.

Contorno: A side dish of cooked vegetables, salads, rice or noodles makes a perfect compliment to the second course. A statement making ceramic salad bowl will make ensure your side will not be overshadowed.

Formaggio & Frutta: These are usually served in sequence, cheese for digestion and fruit to cleanse the palate. A decorative footed ceramic platter makes cherries, apple, or peaches even more appealing.

Dolce and Caffe: Save a little room for dessert and espresso to finish up the feast.

Digestivo: A liqueur like Amaro or Sambuca finishes off the meal.
Save a little room for dessert and espresso to finish up the feast.

The Sitting Room

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Tuscan ceramic vases don’t just hold flowers, they bring out the beauty. Those rich colors and whimsical designs add character to the floral arrangement.

Use playful motifs you see on most Tuscan ceramics, like animals, fruit, flowers, or Harlequin characters. These reflect an interplay between joyful living and everyday functionality.

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Add some warm, ambient lighting, and you have created the perfect conditions for relaxation and elegant comfort.

One color statement can make a striking statement.

The Hallway

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Oversized Ginger Jars that include classically designed fruit in intricate details and vivid colors look great.

A display piece or a serving platter on a shelf will brighten any nook.

The Patio

authenticTuscan ceramics

Some mismatched wall ceramics add a sense of drama and flair. There's n need for them to match perfectly… the more eclectic your collection, the better!

Italians are experts at creating comfortable beautiful spaces for entertaining friends and family outdoors. After all, alfresco dining and coffee sipping in the piazza are typical Italian activities that require the same thing: a perfect outdoor setting.

Bring the warmth of the Italian Countryside to your special garden niche.

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Hand painted jugs, ceramic bowls, and colorful Italian plates perfectly represent the Mediterranean lifestyle and are the perfect accompaniment to long, leisurely, family gatherings outside in the sunshine...

Garden accessories like furniture and decorative accents in natural materials such as wood, ceramic, iron, and stone help portray the rustic, warm Tuscan feeling so characteristic of the Italian style.

Use large garden planters to add a tree or two. Plant vivid colored flowers in the smaller containers.

Starting Your Italian Ceramic Collection

authenticTuscan ceramics

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years when it comes to Italian studio pottery:

Start off small. Gradually introduce Italian ceramics into your home a piece or two at a time.

Collectors and those who want to start collecting pottery can often get in way over their heads. They buy, buy and buy until their credit cards are maxed out. This isn’t the wisest decision because people often end up with a real mash and not a fine mix and match collection.

I recommend mix and matching various styles instead of becoming dependent on one specific type. Bear in mind that this could stop being produced before your collection is complete or as soon as you break a few dinner pieces. Authentic Italian ceramics are painted by hand and will always vary anyway, so why not take advantage of the variety!

Don’t go in for cheap stuff. Pottery making is a difficult, painstaking, time-consuming process and the end result cannot be cheap. If it is, somethings wrong and most probably you’re buying a fake. ( take a look at my post “how to tell if you're buying authentic Italian ceramics”)

Ogni cosa si compra a prezzo.

Quality is definitely worth paying for however, a high price tag doesn’t guarantee quality. Buy from source if you can and go with what first appeals to you.

Don't try to match Tuscan style dinnerware. Choose a few colors and build your collection around those. You will be certain to find colors that work with your style. Soft greens, warm yellows, cobalt blues, and rich reds are a good beginning.

One statement piece can transform a room. Instead of starting with a new collection of Italian style dinnerware, incorporate a few stylish serving platters.

Visit Tuscany If You Can!

Ciò che Dio fa è ben fatto.