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Painting ceramics in Florence is easier with wine

The great thing about living in a cool city like Florence is rediscovering just how many cool things there are to do at any given moment that you, as a local – as in you I mean me, didn’t know about. When I was about 12 years old, I was convinced that my future was to be an artist. In school my friends and I joined all the art classes we could get our hands on and I was convinced that Texas deserves a female version of Michelangelo and that might be me. Of course reality struck that number one, I wasn’t very good, and number two being a semi-average artist probably wasn’t even going to pay the bills. Just like that, a dream done, an almost forgotten wish so long ago that it seems like a different lifetime completely..

What does this have to do with painting ceramic plates in Florence? Probably nothing, but just a reminder just how fun it is to relive some childhood passions, like painting in any form The invite was as follows: a group of girls organized by the very rad Dawn who I originally met on a bike tour. I headed over with my friends Krista & Gina who also happen to both be fabulous bloggers in Florence.

We had wine, music, snacks (I ate my weight in peanut M&M’s that night) and a lesson the art of painting ceramic plates Montelupo style, which is where many of the famous pottery we Americans love so much comes from. Our teacher Enzo was all smiles as he nervously wiped his hands on his artisan apron secretly hoping we would all shut up for a second to start our class for the night.

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 That smile says, get off your smartphone!

Enzo told us a little history about why people started painting ceramics and how it became a mainstay in Montelupo. You can tell this is a passionate subject for him since for him, the Offic Lab and ceramics was a totel life change and career move. I can really respect making a risky move like that in a country like Italy, plus he happens to be just a really nice guy! The ceramic in Montelupo got its original design from the Spaniards and Moors in the 13th century, it soon become a must-have in the homes of Florentine nobles and later all over western Europe. Many of the designs were tied to a certain family, a bit like the coat of arms.

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Painting ceramics like a Montelupo expert : lesson 101  

When Enzo told us that an expert in Montelupo can paint a ceramic plate in just 7-9 minutes, I knew that same process would take us gals at least a few hours. There was no lack of enthusiasm on our parts, could have been the sugary snack & wine combination but we were all raring to go. Our work stations were complete with a spinning platform to lay our naked ceramic plates, which we then had to center as we spun the wheel while holding the pencil, and later the paintbrush at an angle to lay down our artwork – and the process began.

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As you can see my friend Gina painted a sombrero on her plate, no worries, we can promise you all guacamole will be eaten on that soon.. ¡Ay, caramba!

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Our finished plates which actually look better than you would have thought!

The colors used to paint the ceramics were simple a simple bold and not to be mixed. Brush strokes were long and each movement was to be made seamlessly, the process very fluid and natural. We got to pick from some designs Enzo had on offer and were able to just have fun with it. None of us were ceramic painting experts but what I really liked about the class was that making a mistake wasn’t a big deal. Great for me since I seem to always overexaggerate my designs {how strange for a Texana ;-)}. I promise you no respectable Italian art museum will be clamoring for my work anytime soon but it’s nice to be able to have something that I know I did at home.

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Want to paint ceramics too? Here’s how! 

I chatted with Enzo about how much a night like this would cost for anyone, he said about 25 euros a person, max 8-9 (there is limited space in the laboratory) and I highly, highly recommend it! You can inquire for a longer course or just have a really fun night out with friends, just keep in mind that you will need to be there a few days after to pick up your finished plate :). This is something I hope to do again and who knows, you may see a collection of beagle & hedgehog plates at a Coop supermarket near you. Not likely! ;-)

Officina Laboratorio Ceramica, via n.di cione 6 ( Piazza Beccaria, small street in front of the Coop supermarket)  FB page: email Enzo at officinaceramica@gmail.com or call/send him a message at + 39 339131990.

volantino2011

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