Leonardo Parisi tells the story of Artenova in the video for I Grandi Vini
2016/05/31 egg shaped / egg shaped jars / gardens / Impruneta clay / kiln / ornaments / overlapping / pots / technique / temperature / terracotta workshop / tradition / vessels / video / waterproof / wine in amphora / wine jars / wine proff
Leonardo Parisi the owner of Artenova Terracotta from Impruneta (Tuscany) features in a video for the digital version of the magazine “I Grandi Vini” where he recounts the history of Artenova. How his family took over a terracotta workshop in Impruneta which produced the traditional baroque style articles for gardens and ornaments for the home; the insight to convert this tradition handed down for generations to a different kind of work from the purely decorative; the courage to re-discover a product from the far distant past experimenting in the aging of wine in amphora; the ability to make their product survive on the market; and finally, the breakthrough of the company in 2008 which today makes Artenova the leading company in Italy (but also with many customers around the world) in the production of terracotta wine-jars.
In the video we see the creation of vessels of all shapes and sizes from classic urns to egg-shaped jars and huge Roman Dolia while Mr Parisi describes the unique features of the terracotta of Impruneta and the techniques used to create them. The workshop still uses the ancient coil pot technique but integrates with the use of plaster molds, rigorously executed by hand of course: the first technique consists in overlapping long clay cylinders called “Lucignoli” (wicks) to build up the walls of the vessel and smoothing them into place, the swift hand-work of the craftsmen making it look deceptively easy. This is done in stages, patiently waiting for each stage to dry out before moving on to the next in order to prevent the wet clay from collapsing; the second technique involves the use of a plaster mould allowing a more rapid execution of whatever vessel they are creating and also for more precision for tricky pieces like the egg-shaped jars and the nearly spherical dolia, however the clay inside is also built up in stages. The molds are made in pieces making them easy to disassemble once the jar is completed.
Once the jars are finished they go through the drying phase, which is necessarily quite a lengthy affair because it is imperative for the jar to dry out slowly and completely, so as to be ready for firing. Any skimping on time during this phase causes the pots to crack ruining all the painstaking work done before. The firing itself takes about 3 and a half days. Inside the kiln, which is left on night and day, the temperature rises slowly up to 1050 °C. The kiln is then switched off and the jars remain inside for another 24-36 hours, the time required for the temperature to drop gradually back down to room temp.
Lastly the jars are “tempered” outside by filling them with water for at least another 3 days. This gives them the capacity of being totally waterproof (and consequently wine-proof) a characteristic of Impruneta clay.