Our February talk took on a different style with Lisa Katzenstein speaking about “Maiolica and Me – A Modern Take on an Ancient Art Form”. Lisa was born in the U.S.A., lived in Rome, and has now settled in Hastings on the Sussex coast. She is a member of the Craft Potters Association and her work has been featured in many exhibitions.
Lisa gave us a picture tour of her “Maiolica” style from 1999, when she first started producing pottery, to the present. Her love of Maiolica developed from childhood during her stay in Italy and her vision is ceramics as an art form and not as commercial objects. Lisa’s slides showed the progression of her work and how her style has changed over the years with the use of abstract images and natural colours making her pots quite “retro”. Her shapes are slip-cast or press-moulded white earthenware with hand painted “tin-glaze” decoration. With this technique, which has a long history in Europe, paint is applied on top of the glaze prior to firing. Originally it was developed to imitate Chinese porcelain and the ware was called by different names depending on where it was made – Majolica (Italy), Maiolica (Spain), Delft (Holland) or Faience (France).
The decoration is more important to Lisa than the shape – she uses wax resist and “Scraffitto” to sculpt the designs, which are based on natural flower forms, and tries to convey not only the beauty but also the thorniness and invasiveness of plants. She also explained the different firing techniques required in her work, and the making of “slip-cast”. Each item is hand-painted and therefore unique.
Lisa brought several pieces of her work with her and some examples were passed around for the members to examine. After the talk and numerous questions, members were able to examine more pieces displayed at the front of the hall.