Ceramics Capital of Sicily

17 Jun



IMG_20120615_122343Caltagirone is famous for two reasons. One, our friend John “Obie” Oberhausen lived there for eight years and two, it is the ceramics capital of Sicily.

Italian ceramics are each unique in their design. Individually hand painted in brilliant color schemes they celebrate the world of nature and of man. Each piece has a similar design but differs in the application of that design by the artist.

We saw artists at work in the different shops painting vases and plates freehand  in designs  like the one you see here.

Small vase from Caltagirone

Caltagirone vase photo by Dede Hatch

Informed by the Arabic influences of the culture, the geometric tiles are hand painted with slight variations, to accommodate the style of the artist  in each tile.

Tile decoration on steps

The town is filled with shops and boutiques selling every style and size of ornamental ceramics from tiny figures to decorated heads two feet in height. Ceramic tiles are worked into bridges and walkways all over the town. In the centro district this set of steps takes people from the main piazza to an active church at the top of the hill.

Decorated steps, Caltagirone

Along one of the entryways to the town is this long balustrade lined with ceramic insets, vases and decorated street lamps.

Entryway, Caltagirone

We enjoyed Caltagirone so much we went back for a second visit. Have you ever visited a town dedicated to an art or craft? Where was it and what was the art or craft?

7 Responses to “Ceramics Capital of Sicily”

  1. Nancy Lehrhaupt June 25, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    John Obie Oberhausen is wondering if you saw the ceramic statue of him in the main square? If so, you probably had too much Vino!! Cause he took the statue when he left Italy. Hope you haven’t gained a lot of weight, eating all that pasta and drinking all that wine…..I am jealous. Did you meet any locals?

    • Jill June 25, 2012 at 2:19 am #

      Well yes, the pasta, bread and cheese does play havoc with the waistline. We are rolling into South Africa, literally. They are still talking about that statue of John in Caltagirone. And we have met Sicilians…not enough of them for they all are so warm and welcoming and they love to feed you…also drink with you. We really do like it here.

  2. neilfreer June 18, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    As good as any place to leave this one maybe:
    be a great side trip if you have room for such. As would the Baalbek platform in Lebanon if it’s not too dangerous.

  3. Dede June 18, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    This is great Jill. You know how I would LOVE this. (think: my Tunisian tiles over the stove…). I love seeing the work incorporated into the very foundation of the town. Especially the steps.
    Years ago when Jon and I went to New Zealand, I learned that a small town on the south island was know for their Maori jade carving. We made a special trip there and were not disappointed. By a LONG shot. Luck would have it that there was a major exhibition of NZ jade carvers taking place at the local museum. Unbelievable. Here is a link I just found to Hokitika. http://www.jadecountry.co.nz/
    I forget exactly how, but I found my beautiful jade pendant from the artist/carver- perhaps seeing his card on a bulletin board. I called, and we went to his house. I remember he said he worked as a plumber. And he had this little shed out back where his studio was. He was a hard working man with a passion for the tradition of jade carving. He was so kind and I purchased a simple carved circle. I remember thinking that if I were blind, I would take comfort in handling this piece.
    Thank you for asking people to share this kind of story.
    As for that contest.. well I would only consider participating if I knew that the apron would be well used, with all the stains of meals prepared by Chefs Cahrboneau/Simmons.
    Loving submitted by your faithful friend who misses you A LOT.

    • Jill June 18, 2012 at 2:30 am #

      Dede: I remember you telling about this when you came home…but not in such detail. This is great. I am always amazed by cultures where an art flourishes while people do their day-to-day jobs. I thought of you while we were in Caltagirone and knew that you would love it. Miss you too A LOT. J

  4. Ursula Freer June 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    The hand painted designs on the small vase are so much like some Mexican pottery we own, especially the predominance of that shade of blue.

    • Jill June 18, 2012 at 2:23 am #

      Hi Ursula: Glad to have you back. There is a similarity in the designs. I think the difference is the coloration and the Arab influence in the geometrics. Hope all is well with you and with the garden. J

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