Everything starts from clay
Clay is the raw material from which the ceramic production begins, it is very manipulable and suitable to be worked with hands. “Plasticity” is the most important feature: clay is the only material that can be molded and able to maintain its shape.
There are different types of clay and, depending on the technique to be adopted, the most suitable one is chosen. In our laboratory we use several types of clay, including: red clay, white clay, liquid clay, grès, refractory and semi-refractory, porcelain; clays of their own composition are prepared for special production.
Before processing, the clay must be mixed and compacted to minimize the presence of air bubbles, to make it homogeneous and compact for moulding.
The moulding is the first step of ceramic manufacturing; there are different techniquest to produce ceramic. The main ones are:
- Handmade moulding: among the oldest techniques of ceramic production, there is the “colombino” one, which includes the realization of clay “little cords”: drawn lines that are attached to each other starting from the base. This production allows to obtain ceramic objects that can be bombed, cylindrical, flattened, conical, irregular, ect…
- Moulding plate: through the preparation of a clay slab, it is possible to create objects of any form..
- Potter’s wheel: tool used for ceramic production. The obtained objects can be cylindrical and/or circular. The potter’s wheel is made up of a rotating support, similar to a plate on which a mass of clay is placed and has to perfectly turn on itself. The shape is given exclusively by the skilled hands of the crocker, which uses only wooden, steel and/or rubber battens.
- Moulding with casting technique: at this stage the plaster mold is first prepared to the negative of the shape to be made. For the appearance of the object, the liquid clay (hence the casting term) is poured inside the mold and after some time the plaster absorbs the water contained in the clay, giving thickness to the object. Excess casting is emptied and the object is removed from the mold only when has dried and hardened.
- Mechanical press mould: the mold consists of two matrices, male and female, which must be mounted on the “press”. The two approaching molds leave an empty space inside that is occupied by the clay that then takes that shape.
Whatever the technique is used, it is necessary to dry the artifacts. Particular attention must be paid during this phase to avoid uneven drying that could lead to deformation of the object itself. As the clay is no longer plastic and no longer modelable, but drying is not complete yet, the object can still be worked with applications, engravings, tunnels, etc…
When the drying process is completely finished, the product is manually finished and sponged with water to eliminate imperfections and increase porosity. In some cases, especially for large objects, the drying process may take a long time. The years of experience of our Laboratory allow us to put in place the basic considerations to avoid unpleasant inconveniences.
The first cooking phase is called “biscuit”. The oven temperature varies from 960° to 1400°, depending on the clay used to make the object. Another purpose of the ceramic production is the one of the so-called ‘High-Tech’ ceramic: it can reach a cooking temperature of up to 1700 ° and can be applied in the field of engineering, medicine, etc. . The cooking time varies according to the size of the object, which can only be extracted after the oven has been completely cooled down. At this stage, the fragile object becomes resistant and the clay, that now has become terracotta, changes color. The terracotta color, depending on the clay used, can be red, white, black, etc.
In our laboratory we employ different glazing and/or glazing techniques: spray, divingand/or sprinkling glaze. The glazing phase requires a lot of skill, since it is important that the glaze is deposited homogeneously on the surface of the object. There are different types and colors of glaze: depending on the technique and the decoration, the most suitable one is chosen, and thanks to the experience and the continuous research, we use glazes of our composition for special machining. In addition, the glazes and colors used to make kitchenware ceramic production (and not only) are unleaded and therefore suitable for food use.
The glazing phase requires a lot of skill, since it is important that the glaze is deposited homogeneously on the surface of the object.
There are different types and colors of glaze: depending on the technique and the decoration, the most suitable one is chosen, and thanks to our experience and continuous research, we use glazes of our composition for special machining.
In addition, the glazes and colors used to make kitchen objects (and more) are lead-free and therefore suitable for food use.
Once glazed and dry, the objects can be decorated by hand, with airbrush, with screen printing, with digital printing, etc. Decorating with the brush requires a lot of experience, because the true color is seen after cooking and because it is painted on a dusty surface (glaze) and it is important to spot the exact density of the color in order to avoid imperfections
For a few years in Ceramiche Liberati Laboratory has been adopted a new decorative technique with embroidered glazes from the sought after decorative motifs and the bright colors. The decoration with ceramic digital printing, commonly called photoceramics: on the already glazed and vitrified object the previously printed image is applied, the object goes directly to the phase of the three-phase firing. Combining tradition and innovation in the Ceramiche Liberati Laboratory, various hand-made decorations are made of both local and modern features that follow the current design trends. It is difficult, if not impossible, to describe all the possible decorative variations that can be made on our ceramic production, since on several occasions the customers themselves require customised decorations and, in some cases, exclusive. Here we suggest some ceramic decorations that have become representative:
Fioraccio – is the most representative floral decoration in Abruzzo. t is usually made on kitchenware: jars, plates, ladle sticks, coffee cups, trays, bowls, biscuits, etc… The decoration consists in drawing by hand seven wild flowers typical of the territory on the glazed object in clear tones. Several ceramists in our region make this decoration, but from the vibrancy of colors it is possible to recognize the “fioraccio abruzzese” of Ceramiche Liberati. For more information on the history and meaning of this decoration, we recommend reading the blog article on ceramics “Fioraccio abruzzese: simbolo d’Abruzzo”.
Orchidea(orchid) – is one of the leading floral decorations handmade by our Laboratory. The name “Orchidea” is decorated with the same flower, which is reinterpreted with a three-color petals painting with orange pistils surrounded by green leaves and pink buds. The decor represents a floral painted color, usually centered on the glazed object, the color of the ceramic glaze used is ivory. Orchid flowers have a typical winged structure, with open and flattened petals, which, depending on the species, differs in size and color of the flower. In the ornate decoration of Liberati ceramics, the polychromatic floral band is enclosed in the design with swaying lines or bows of green and yellow color. For every object, usually functional ceramic for home and kitchen furnishings, the orchid floral band is proportionally resized to the shape of the object itself. The orchid, in addition to the unquestioned beauty as a flower, has an important history and a particular charm. Aesthetically perfect, the flower represents elegance, refinement and harmony. The orchid-inspired floral motifs, spread all over the world with dozens of variations, are chosen as a gift especially as a sign of respect, love and act of recognition and gratitude to the person to whom they are donated. Example of hand-decorated items with “Orchidea” decoration.
Oriente – è uno dei decori floreale realizzati a mano dal Laboratorio Ceramiche Liberati. Solitamente con questo decoro vengono dipinti oggetti in ceramica che rientrano nella categoria oggettistica funzionale per la casa e per la cucina, ad esempio, piatti, vassoi, portaombrelli, orologi da muro, ecc. Il decoro Oriente è caratterizzato da una fascia floreale arricchita da boccioli, petali e peduncoli che si intrecciano tra di loro in una corona di fiori dalle tonalità del blu e dell’oro. La rappresentazione del fiore principale, formato da uno stilo di colore giallo oro con quattro petali blu alla base, si ispira alle eleganti forme del fiore iris. Su oggetti di diverse forme e con diverse dimensioni il decoro viene ridimensionato proporzionalmente alle misure della superficie da decorare. Talvolta, la fascia floreale Oriente viene racchiusa nella cornice di linee ondulate dal colore caldo e dei puntini blu posizionati sulle estremità delle ondulazioni che, nell’insieme, danno una continuità al decoro. Esempio di manufatti decorati a mano con il decoro “Oriente”.
Teate blu – is the floral bouquet of Ceramiche Liberati, which was conceived in honor of the Province of Chieti. In fact, the word “Teate”, a Latin version of the original Theate or Tegheàte, defines an ancient Marrucini center that corresponds to today’s Chieti. “Teatino” is defined as a citizen, inhabitant of the city of Chieti. The rich and ancient history of the city and the Province of the same name, which is distinguished by the impressive architectural and natural beauties, in addition to the wonderful landscapes, inspired our Workshop to realize and dedicate it an elegant and simple decoration in its symbology. Our ceramic production with Teate decor is characterized by light background, in fact the enamel used is antique white, while the painting is a monochrome floral motif that exploits the shades of blue. On all the ceramic production made by Ceramiche Liberati, the painting Teate is represented as a monochromatic flower band in the central position, with swaying or arched lines that enclose the drawing. The painted flowers are small five-petals daisies, which are interwoven with twigs of soft curves, all enriched by oblong leaflets. One of the recognizable elements of the Teate decoration is the presence of the series of dots (four or five), painted with determination, on the curvature of the peduncle within the floral band. Example of hand-decorated ceramic items with the “Teate” decoration.
Irlanda blu e verde –
A poise –
A matita o gessetto –
La seconda cottura è la fase finale della lavorazione della maiolica. L’obiettivo della seconda cottura è quello di far vetrificare lo smalto , questo passaggio rende l’oggetto impermeabilizzato. The ceramic production made with this technique involves the ‘second cooking’, which is carried out at lower temperatures (compared to the biscuit one) ranging from 900 ° to 940 ° C. In addition, unlike the first cooking, the fired objects must be spaced apart, to prevent the melting enamel from attach to the artifacts.
In addition, unlike the first cooking, the fired objects must have the right distance between them, to prevent the melting enamel from sticking to the artifacts.
Special cookings and manufacturings
The three-phases cooking is a special cooking around 770°, it is done on already vitrified objects. Our ceramic production involves decorations that can be made with pure gold, platinum, shiny or specially coloured colours…
- Reflection Processing: it is a technique that uses glazes with different characteristics and colours. In the gas oven (indispensable for this kind of process) oxygen reductions are induced which allow glazes to create iridescend and very special reflections. Master Giuseppe Liberati, with his skills and continuous study of technique, obtains unique creations of its kind. Example of modern ceramic artifacts decorated with the reflective technique.
- Raku Ceramics: It is an ancient Japanese technique, created for the production of the tea ceremony cups. In the Ceramiche Liberati Workshop, the technique is practiced by Giuseppe Liberati who with his “raku alchemy” creates real works of art. Raku processing is a complex process, which begins with the preparation of refractory or semi-refractory clay. The baking object is cooked in a gas oven, once the required temperature is reached, the oven is opened and the extracted objects, still incandescent are immersed in a tank containing combustible material (sheets of paper, dry leaves, sawdust etc.) which, by burning, produce a reduction in oxygen required to obtain those colorings typical of raku ceramic. Then, they are immersed in cold water and carefully washed to eliminate the signs of combustion and to bring out the beauty of the colors. The extraction process is quite scenic and spectacular, and more and more often, Master Giuseppe is invited for demonstrations during artistic events and beyond.
Example of artifacts and ceramic works made with the raku cooking technique.
- Bucchero: It is of Etruscan origin and consists of baking very well-polished objects (so as to make them almost raw) in a reducing (oxygen-free) oven to give the object a homogeneous black monochrome.
- Ceramic sculpture (high reliefs, law-reliefs and all-around): this ceramic production tecchnique involves the modeling of the free clay with the help of some tools such as slats and eyelets. Free-hand work takes many hours of work and requires remarkable precision and ability. Once the modeling phase is over, before the cooking phase is completed, the work is dried (depending on the size of the object, it may take several weeks to complete). Once in terracotta you will decide whether to proceed with the second cooking or leave it as such. Example of ceramic sculptures.
- Mixed Technique: in our laboratory, devoted to continuous experimentation and research, we also carry out “experimental” processes of ceramic production, using different techniques at the same time, even glazes and colors of their own composition as well as alternative materials. The term “mixed technique” refers to all artistic works created by using materials other than conventional ones. Ceramic artifacts and creations with mixed techniques.
The cuerda seca is a Hispano-Moorish particular decoration origin used in the past for the decoration of plates and tiles. The name of the decoration, in Italian “corda secca”, derives from the use of a fat-impregnated string with which create the desired design on the tile. The empty spaces created by the rope were filled with a colored enamel with the help of a marker, and then continued with the cooking during which the rope was burning, leaving the trace free from the glaze. Currently, the technique has been simplified and, in order to define the so-called boundary lines between the glazes, instead of the rope or lines, a fat substance called “black” of the dry cord is applied to the brush, preventing the glazes from overlap during the cooking. This type of decoration is particularly suitable for flat or slightly curved surfaces to produce ceramic objects with bright color effects and special contrasts. The decoration technique is often called “decorative glaze decoration” because, according to the consistency of ceramic enamels used, the final design effect will be more or less important.
Per maggiori sulla tecnica di decorazione della “cuerda seca” si consiglia di leggere l’articolo blog sulla ceramica artigianale Decorazione cuerda seca per una ceramica giovanile. Per vedere esempi di manufatti decorati con la cuerda seca visitate la pagina dedicata alla Ceramica Linea Fenice.
In the Ceramiche Liberati Workshop, the dry cord manufacturing, the English name of the decoration, was introduced a few years ago and all this ceramic production is performed by the young Marta Liberati, among the first ceramists to work the dry cord in Abruzzo. All the dry cord ceramic decor are handmade and the ceramic objects made with this technique are part of the Phoenix Linea category proposed by Ceramiche Liberati. In addition to the freehand designs, some of which recall the concept of Mandala, Marta performs several works that take on traditional decorative and ornamental patterns of Abruzzo as Presentosa(jewel of Abruzzo’s excellence). Years of experience and the innate talent of Marta allow to elaborate very complex decorations with cuerda seca technique also on small surfaces, such as pendants, curved and irregular surfaces, such as bushes or balls for the Christmas tree. Decorated items in cuerda seca have a decorative purpose and are not suitable for food use, unless otherwise specified in the product card.