|Monica Lazzerini graduated from the Art Institute of Florence, and after some work experience begun to decorate ceramics in Montelupo Fiorentino, where she met Cinzia Orsi. They both learnt from expert craftsmen to decorate "a bottega" in the Tuscan tradition specific to Montelupo. After gaining some experience, in 1990 they launched "Artesia", their very own workshop of hand-made ceramics, located in the ancient medieval town of Certaldo.
|Their objects are the result of a personal research that ranges from traditional subjects and historically related Tuscan majolica, to the influences of modern and contemporary art. Artesia ceramic pieces have been featured in a number of art exhibitions in San Gimignano, Arezzo, Volterra and Monteriggioni, and in trade shows such as the International Handicraft Exhibition in Florence, Milan and Rome as well as the crafts market in Piazza del Campo in Siena and Piazza Strozzi in Florence.
STAGES IN THE PRODUCTION OF OUR CERAMICS
1. THE BISQUE
Clay is the raw material for the manufacture of ceramics and its natural ability to absorb water is what makes it deliver a workable clay body. Whatever iron compounds or other organic substances are present in the clay will determine the eventual colour and porosity of the object produced. The clay has to be first of all decanted and sifted to rid it of impurities before one can obtain a homogenous and uniform dough ready for modeling. The clay is then shaped according to various techniques. The clay can be shaped by hand by coiling, or using a potter's wheel; or it can be poured into a cast or a press. Once it has been given its shape, the object is dried and then fired for the first time, resulting in a bisque.
The glaze can be thought of as a layer of paint that provides a sheath on the bisque, preparing it for the drawing and painting to come. The glaze makes it waterproof and vitrifies the surface which can be glossy or matte, transparent or opaque depending on the raw materials that constitute it. The bisque is then dipped into the glaze, to become covered all over with a a thin white layer which will form a blank backdrop for the drawing and painting later on. The bisque is then fired a second time.
3. PAINTING AND DECORATING
Painting on the glazed surface is carried out using very soft brushes of varying size and shape, the most prized of which are made of animal hair. The paints derive from metallic compounds of mineral origin, which can be mixed in water. The most commonly used are: copper oxide (green), cobalt oxide, ferric oxide (red), chromium oxide (green), manganese dioxide and nickel oxide (brown). The process of firing permanently alters the colours of the oxides. It takes learning and experience to understand beforehand what colours are going to result after firing.
The firing of decorated and glazed objects is done, in our case, using an electric kiln, with electrical systems that can produce a controlled temperature regime up to 1,330° C. Our ceramics are fired at 940° C.