While walking through San Polo, I was pleasantly surprised to run into Giovanni Vio, whom I had mentioned in a previous post. He very kindly invited me to see his studio on the Lido, where all manner of ceramic and terracotta works are produced. (His website is http://www.vioartfactory.com/)
The fence around the property announces that this is not an ordinary suburban home. Examples of the work are embedded into the wall.
Looking like biscuits lined up to go into an oven, these clay articles are drying out, waiting their turn to go into the kiln.
Giovanni in one area of the large studio, with more terracotta pieces awaiting attention. I had no idea how labour intensive it all is.
Wet clay is pressed into moulds like this, and allowed to rest for a while. Giovanni can judge when enough moisture has been drawn out of the clay, which shrinks a little from the sides of the mould. Then, he will turn the mould over, give it a tap, and the raw piece will drop out. (I hate to think how many pieces I might ruin before I got even this beginning stage correct!)
The clay is sourced from Bassano del Grappa. (And I thought that area was famous for another product … grappa.)
This is the typical colour I associate with terracotta products. But, they have a few techniques they use in the studio, to produce a variety of effects.
For instance, paint may be applied, or steel wool used to scrub away parts of the surface, to give an aged look.
Ground coloured glass is also used, and fused onto the terracotta pieces, to provide yet another attractive variation.
The kiln used to bake the clay, or to fuse the glass onto the terracotta, reaches 1000 degrees Celsius. (This reminded me of the heat of the molten metal at the Valese Foundry.)
I’ll leave you with a few more images; it is not easy to do justice to the scale of the work done, nor the passion that is obvious in this third generation artist. I appreciate the generosity shown by Giovanni, who locked his shop in San Polo for several hours to take me to his studio.