THE CLAY OF IMPRUNETA

The craft of the “Fornacino”, potter.

The production of jars, wine jars, amphorae, bricks and tiles in clay is a tradition that spans millennia in this area of Tuscany, where from time immemorial the craft of the Potter is handed down from generation to generation. Massimo Carbone was trained from an early age in one of the historical kilns of Impruneta, patiently absorbing, “with his eyes”, the techniques of the trade but also and especially a calibre of mind that allows him to love the work and to work well beyond mere commercial interests. Precisely from this rare old passion the works of Massimo are born, because the creation of jars for vinification is for him one and the same as life itself. Massimo always repeats that all of his works are born from him and are for him nothing less than his own children who need continuous care in every phase of life. A thought that constantly accompanies him: how will my amphorae get on?
Clay is alive and it is life. These articles, far from being simple pieces of inert clay, reveal themselves instead to the attentive eye as being very alive: they change, they undergo criticalities, they heal, they forgive and find their balance, thus requiring constant care.
Day after day this profession merges with life and so today is a fundamental part of Massimo’s life: every amphora, every jar is a unique work of art and his jars, wherever they live, will remain forever “his” Jars.

EARTH, WATER, AIR AND FIRE.

"To create is likewise to give a shape to one’s destiny." (Albert Camus)

The precious clay of Impruneta is first finely ground and then kneaded with water. Subsequently, the jars are modelled and smoothed by hand. They are built up in a winding spiral measuring 20 cm per day, using the ancient technique of the colombino, i.e. it is the craftsman who moves around the jars which are slowly built without any tools except for the scrupulous eye of the master. Every Jar is therefore unique. To build an Amphora or Jar of medium size takes approximately 3 weeks.
Orcio terracotta Impruneta lavorazione colombino
Once the jars and the amphorae have been made, they move to the very critical phase of drying. During this phase 10% of the water initially put into the mixture has to slowly evaporate. The Jars thus lose from 8 to 10% of their initial volume. The drying times vary depending on the size of the articles and the seasons, running from a minimum of 3 weeks to a maximum of 1 and a half months. In this phase the jars slowly change colour until they settle on the light grey or the original colour of the ground clay. It is of paramount importance that the drying takes place according to the strict dictates of the art in order to avoid the occurrence of fractures, cracks or other imperfections.
Our jars are finally ready to be fired. The process lasts for 5 days, the temperature reaches 1000° C to then descend slowly until complete cooling takes place. The amphorae are inserted grey and magically, after approximately 75 hours, they come out of the kiln with the red colour typical of the terracotta of Impruneto. Finally, each Amphora or Jar is wetted with abundant water to ensure a long life and a high resistance to frost and to brackish atmospheres.
Terracotta impruneta essiccazione

The jars that leave my kiln will always remain my jars.

Massimo Carbone