Thursday, 25 June 2015

APTWARE - A visit to a unique studio


Illusive hand-made French faience pottery named after the town of Apt where it originated.

As we are visiting Provence at the moment,  I managed to persuade Mr R-I and my daughters, to accompany me to Apt on a search for Aptware.  This marbleized faience pottery,  so popular in the US, is very difficult to come by.  I have, over the years,  frequently searched Ebay and other sites in vain.  This pottery originated in mid-18th Century in the town of Apt and the secret to creating the marbleized melange of colours is closely guarded.  

We were so fortunate in being invited to meet an old gentleman who after thirty years,  still makes this beautiful pottery on a daily basis.  Together with his son and wife,  they produce the most beautiful tableware and having a peep into the Atelier was such a treat.  We were shown the various techniques involved in creating these unique pieces.  However,  the exact process involved in creating this marbleized effect,  was not disclosed.  How wonderfully quaint  that after all these years such a unique and beautiful art form is still honoured and handed down and carried out in this little studio. 

One of my grand-daughters accompanied us and was delighted to meet two of the cats that lounge around the tables in the studio!

Carefully placing a newly formed piece on the shelf to harden off for a couple of weeks, before the final glaze.

Rolling the clay (already containing the marbleized colour) between the two guides, ensuring it remains even on all sides.

This photo shows the clay before final glazing on the right and the final product colour on the left.

The kiln is surprisingly small

A plate which has been allowed to harden off on the mould for a week,  before being moved for further hardening on a nearby shelf.  This clay will end up being the blue version of the Aptware which we were told is the most popular colour.

This part of the process involves pushing the clay into the surrounding groove of the mould.  This provides the cream contrast band.

Monsieur Rigo carrying the rolled out clay to his work station,  where he will lay it over the mould, on top of the contrast band already inserted.

The next process involves 'washing' off the clay with clean water.  It was astonishing to see the colours showing through after this process.

Next,  the outer edges of the rolled clay are folded back in line with the contrast band.

The folded edges are then smoothed off using a sponge and water.

The plate shown above,  is the finished product.

Another completed platter, before the final glazing.

Monsieur's son slicing off the unwanted edges, once the plate has hardened off after two weeks.

The contrast again of the unprocessed clay with the final product... in this case,  a very pale milky green which was beautiful.
Below are more photos of  completed pieces. 

They call the colour above, 'original'.  These colours were used in all of the original Aptware and the additional colours happened later.
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