Everything starts from clay. Clay is the raw material from which the process starts; it is very malleable and perfect to be hand-shaped. “Plasticity” is the most important feature because it is the only material that can be molded and that is able to keep its shape. There are different types of clay and, depending on the technique to be adopted, the most suitable one is chosen. In our workshop we use different kinds of clay, including: red clay, white clay, liquid clay, grès, refractory and semi-refractory, porcelain. Particular clay compositions are prepared for special productions. Before processing, the clay must be mixed and compacted to minimize the presence of air bubbles, in order to make it homogeneous and compact for moulding.
The moulding is the first step of production; there are many techniquest to mould objects. The main ones are:
Handmade moulding: among the oldest techniques there is the colombino one, which involves the realization of clay little strigs, e.g. drawn lines attached to each other starting from the base.
This production allows to obtain objects of different shapes: bombed, cylindrical, flattened, conical, irregular, ect…
Moulding plate: Through the preparation of a clay slab, it is possible to create objects of any shape.
Wheel moulding: it is used to create cylindrical and/or circular objects. The wheel moulding is made up of a rotating support, similar to a plate, on which a mass of clay is placed that has to perfectly turn on itself. The shape is given exclusively by the skilled hands of the crocker, who only uses wooden, steel and/or rubber sticks.
Mouldin with casting technique: at this stage the plaster mold is first prepared to the negative of the shape to be made. For the shaping of the object, the liquid clay (hence the term “casting”) is poured inside the mold. After some time, the plaster absorbs the water contained in the clay and gives the thickness to the object. The exceeding casting is emptied and when the object is dry and hard is removed from the mold.
Mechanical press mould: the mold consists of two matrices, male and female, which must be built on the “press”. The two molds, approaching, leave an empty spac that is occupied by the clay that gives shape to the object.
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.
Since the clay is no longer plastic, no longer modelable, but drying is not yet complete, the object can still be worked with applications, engravings, tunnels, etc.
When the drying process is complete, the product is manually finished and sponged with water to remove 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 Workshop allow us to use basic and fundamental considerations to avoid unpleasant inconveniences.
The first cooking phase is called “biscuit”. The oven temperature varies from 960°C to 1400°C, depending on the clay used to make the object. The High-Tech ceramic temperature can reach up to 1700°. It can have different fields of application: engineering, medicine, etc. The cooking time may vary depending on the objcet size, which can only be extracted after the complete cooling of the oven. At this stage, the fragile object becomes resistant and the clay, which 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, diving and/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 productions. In addition, the glazes and colors used to make kitchenware (and not only) are lead-free 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 kitchenware (and not only) are unleaded 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. Decoration with the brush requires a lot of experience, because the true color is seen only after cooking and because it is painted on a dusty surface (glaze). Moreover, it is important to spot the exact density of the color in order to avoid imperfections.
For a few years in the Ceramiche Liberati workshop has been adopted a new decoration technique with relief glazes, refined motifs and bright colors. The digital printing decoration on ceramic, commonly called photoceramics: on the already glazed and vitrified object is applied a previously printed image, then the object is directly cooked with the three-phase firing. Combining tradition and innovation in the Ceramiche Liberati workshop, various hand-made decorations are made of both traditional and modern features that follow the current design trends. It is difficult, if not impossible, to describe all the possible decorative variations that come and can be realized, since on several occasions the customers themselves require customized, and in some cases exclusive, decorations. We hereby suggest some decorations that have become representative:
Fioraccio – is the most representative floral decoration in Abruzzo. It is usually made on kitchenware: jars, plates, spoon rests, coffee cups, trays, bowls, biscuit jars, etc. The decoration consists in drawing, by hand, seven wild flowers typical of the territory on the glazed object with light tones. Many ceramists in our region realize this decoration, but it is possible to recognize the “fioraccio abruzzese” of Ceramiche Liberati by the vibrancy of colors.
Orchidea (orchid) – is one of the leading floral decorations handmade by our Laboratory. The name “Orchidea” is dedicated to the flower, which is reinterpreted with a three-color petals painting with orange pistils surrounded by green leaves and pink buds. The decoration represents a color painted floral band, usually centered on the glazed object. The color of the ceramic glaz is ivory. Orchid flowers have a typical winged structure, with open and flatpetals which, depending on the species, differ in size and color of the flower. In the ornate decoration of Ceramiche Liberati , the polychromatic floral band is enclosed in the design with swaying lines or green/yellow colored bows. For every object, usually functional ceramic for home and kitchen furnishings, the orchid floral band is resized proportionally to the shape of the object. 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 and especially as a sign of respect, love and act of recognition and gratitude to the person to whom they are donated.
Teate blu – is the floral band decor of Ceramiche Liberati, 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 the modern city of Chieti. “Teatino” is in fact an inhabitant of the city of Chieti. The rich and ancient history of the city and the Province, which is distinguished by the impressive architectural and natural beauties, together with the wonderful landscapes, inspired our Laboratory to realize and dedicate to it an elegant and simple decoration in its symbology. Teate ceramic 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 objects 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 daisies with five petals, which are spaced out with soft-curved twigs, all enriched by lng shaped leaflets.
One of the recognizable elements of the Teate decoration is the presence of a series of dots (four or five), painted decisively, on the curvature of the peduncle within the floral band.
Irlanda blu e verde –
A poise –
A matita o grassetto –
The second fring is the final phase of the majolica firing. Its aim is to vetrify the glaze in order to waterproof the object. The second firing is carried out at lower temperatures (compared to the “biscuit” firing) ranging from 900° to 940° C. In addition, unlike the first cooking, the fired objects must be spaced out, to prevent the melting enamel from sticking to the artifact.
firings and special processing
The three-phase firing is a special cooking technique around 770°, it is done on already vitrified objects .
Decorations can be made with pure gold, platinum, shiny or specially composed colors…
Reflection Processing: it is a technique that uses glazes with different characteristics and colours. In the gas oven (indispensable for this kind of processing) are induced oxygen reductions, which allow glazes to create iridescend and very special reflections. Master Giuseppe Liberati, with his skills and continuous study of technique, obtains unique creations.
Raku Ceramics: it is an ancient Japanese technique, created for making cups for the tea ceremony. 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 complex: it begins with the preparation of refractory or semi-refractory clay. The “biscotto” cooked object is cooked in a gas oven, when the required temperature is reached, the oven is opened and the still incandescent objects are and 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 typical colorings 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.
Bucchero: it is of Etruscan origin and consists in baking very well-polished objects (as to make them almost polished even if they’re not already cooked) in a reduced oven (i.e. (oxygen-free) to give the object a homogeneous black monochrome.
Ceramic sculpture (high reliefs, law-reliefs and “tuttotondo”): it is the hand 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. When 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). When it becomes terracotta you can decide whether to proceed with the second firing or leave it as it is.
Mixed Technique: in our laboratory, devoted to continuous experimentation and research, we also carry out “experimental” processes, using different techniques at the same time, glazes and colors of their own composition as well as alternative materials. The term “mixed technique” refers to all the artistic works created by using materials different than conventional ones.
Cuerda seca - dry cord
The cuerda seca is a Hispano-Moorish particular technique used in the past for the decoration of shingles and tiles. The name of the decoration, ‘corda secca’ in Italian, is derived from the use of a fat-impregnated string used to create the desiderd design on the tile. The empty spaces created by the rope were filled with a colored enamel with the help of a marker, then the object was cooked and the rope burnt, leaving a glaze-free trace. 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 a brush. This prevents the glaze overlapping while cooking. This type of decoration is particularly suitable for flat or slightly curved surfaces to create objects with bright color effects and special color 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 engraving.
In the Ceramiche Liberati workshop, the dry cord manufacturing was introduced a few years ago and is performed by the young Marta Liberati, who is one the first ceramists to perform the dry cord in Abruzzo. The decor is totally handmade and the objects are decorated with this technique are included in 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 (jewels of Abruzzo’s excellence). Years of experience and the innate talent of Marta allow to create very complex decorations with cuerda seca technique also on small surfaces such as pendants, curved and irregular surfaces, such as bushes or Christmas tree balls. Decorated items in cuerda seca have a decorative purpose and are not suitable for food use, unless otherwise specified in the product card.
|Workshop and showroom
Via val di Foro, 101
66010 VILLAMAGNA (CH)
Tel : +39 0871 300750 Fax : +39 0871 301333