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Current time:0:00Total duration:2:54

Video transcript

Voiceover: Using methods dating back to the Renaissance the potter begins to make a vessel by kneading a small clump of clay. She forms the clay into a consistent mass ridding it of air. The potter carefully centers the clay on the spinning wheel in preparation for what is called throwing or forming the jar. She maintains the wheels consistent speed with her feet. By exerting pressure with her hands the clay takes on the desired shape. The potter centers a mold which is used to make plates quickly and uniformly. She then centers the clay and using her hands presses it onto the mold. Keeping her hands steady with a bar the potter removes excess clay to make a thin and uniform plate. The potter coats the Maiolica vessel with a tin glaze after it's first firing. Tin glazes are used because they produce an opaque white ground, and are unlikely to run or blur during firing. In the process of dipping into the glaze, Renaissance potters occasionally left fingerprints on the surface of vessels, usually around the base. The glaze is white ground, provided an ideal contrast for the rich and brilliant colors used by Renaissance ceramic painters. After the glaze has dried, the potter paints Maiolica in colorful patterns and images. The pigments available to the Renaissance potters were limited mainly to blue, green and earth tones. Once ceramics were fired and painted, their decoration did not fade with time. Giving us a a rare glimpse of the original colors used during the 14 and 1500s. In the Renaissance, wood fires produced heat for kilns. The burning wood released ash, smoke and gas which could endanger vessels. To protect the most precious vessels, potters used containers made of special refractory clay able to withstand very high temperatures. All Maiolica vessels once decorated, were put back into the kiln for the second or what's called the glossed firing. During this second firing, the glaze and pigments fused to the vessel giving Maiolica its distinctive bright colors and glass like finish.