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How are Deruta Ceramics made?

Why are they so precious, and what makes them so popular?

Deruta Ceramics are part of the tradition of maiolica production, that spread through northern Italy from the Renaissance onwards.

There's no doubt that maiolica has broad appeal. Who hasn't collected a vividly beautiful plate and lugged it all over Europe as a keepsake of a wonderful Italian holiday?

One of the reasons maiolica is so appealing is that its production process is complex. Each piece is made by hand, and every piece is unique. It takes time, love and experience to create one of these exquisite works of art.

The production of Deruta Ceramics begins with the clay, raw clay from the surrounding hills of Umbria, just the right kind of clay. Expert artisans shape the clay, either on a potter's wheel for items like jugs and bowls or in moulds for platters. At this stage, the items are called 'greenware.'

The greenware is stored and allowed to dry for up to twenty days so that the moisture evaporates. When it's dry enough, the greenware is fired for twelve hours at 900℃ to turn it into 'biscuitware'.

The objects are then immersed in a vat of mineral oxide. This liquid glaze will produce the shimmering white background that makes the final colours appear so vibrant. Once this is dry, it's ready for decoration.

Like all great ceramics companies, the quality of the artists comes to the fore at this stage. An accomplished artist understands the difficulties of painting on unstable surfaces, can adjust their work to allow for the way lines change under heat and knows how the colours will change and appear once fired. It takes many years to learn this trade, and it's often a skill handed down from generation to generation. Exceptional maiolica artists are highly valued.

The last stage is the second firing, again at 900℃, over an entire day. And now, finally, they are ready for us to admire and use!

People all over the world respond to the high quality, beautiful and unique patterns and the history of these beautiful objects. Today, ceramics in the maiolica tradition from areas such as Deruta, Urbino, the Veneto, Faenza and Monte Lupo are shipped worldwide.

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