SACI Raku Field Trip to La Meridiana
SACI ceramics students recently went with instructor, Lisa Nocentini, on a field trip to La Meridiana, an International School of Ceramics, to do a raku firing. Raku is a traditional Japanese firing technique where the ceramic pieces are taken out of the kiln at a high temperature instead of waiting for them to cool down inside the kiln.
La Meridiana is located in the beautiful Tuscan countryside around Certaldo (a medieval town south of Florence) and the studio is an old stone farmhouse surrounded by cypress trees and oaks.
La Meridiana is a very busy place — they organize courses, seminars, and residencies based in ceramics. Students and teachers come from all over the world to be inspired. The grounds are full of ceramic pots and sculptures in every corner.
SACI’s ceramic class spends the whole day there. Pietro Maddalena, the founder of La Meridiana, is an enthusiastic potter, teacher, and gardener full of entertaining jokes and stories.
The day starts by glazing the bisque fired pieces that have been brought from SACI’s ceramic studio in Florence. After the pieces are carefully loaded in the kiln, its almost time for lunch, a wonderful home-cooked meal by the great chef/potter Lucia.
After a leisure Italian-style meal, the first load of pots comes out of the kiln with lots of excitement, fire, and smoke. The fired pieces get buried while still hot in a pile of sawdust which blackens the cracks in the glazed and the unglazed areas. After cooling down, the soot residue must be cleaned from the pots.
Waiting for the second kiln load to be ready, the students roam around the gardens and see the wood-firing kiln, which was built by Pietro. The studio has a number of kilns including gas, soda firing, and wood.
After the second kiln load has been taken out and all the pieces are cleaned and packed, the group is ready to get back on the train to Florence. They usually get some funny looks from the other passengers because they smell like smoked sausages…
Thanks to SACI students and Lisa Nocentini for all images.
Find out more about SACI’s 3D area (ceramics and sculpture).