Although my partner U.B. and I are both artists with a keen appreciation of art history, when our family booked a week-long visit to Umbria during our ten-year-old daughter’s spring break this year, we wanted to do something other than the typical visit to churches and art museums.
We spent a memorable morning at a Craftsman Workshop in the famous ceramics town of Deruta. You’ve no doubt seen, or bought, some of the pricey and precious plates, espresso cups or soup tureens made by the artisans of Deruta, with their traditional swirls and griffon shapes meticulously painted on glossy high-fired porcelain. When we learned that we could make our own at the authentic, no-frills ceramics studio called MAIOLICHE ARTISTICHE GORETTI, we said, “Sign us up!”We loved that it was off the beaten path of ceramic factories. The husband-and-wife team of Umberto and Vania were extremely patient with us beginners. Their passion for their craft, which has occupied them for 25 years, shone through. Umberto was delightful with our daughter Stassa, who modeled low-fire bowls, which she personalized for our dog and our cat. In the meantime U.B. and I focused on the fine art of centuries-old decoration of dinnerware. Vania made sure that we followed the rules, after we “pounced” the design with a bag of charcoal onto the unfired white plate or cup. If we put a stroke of light blue rather than a stroke of the dark blue on that wing of the griffon, she would smile and firmly let us know that, no, THIS is the right color for that feather on that wing: SEMPRE (ALWAYS)! Then she would scrape the stroke away with a sharp knife, and we would do it properly.
We thought that the €70 per person price tag for a half-day session was quite reasonable, and afterward we couldn’t resist buyingsome of the Gorettis’ own (admittedly more professional) serving dishes and bowls. But our own creations are our real treasures.