Hand Made: Trinity Interviews Andrea Pullicino Artisan at Patches Market

bowl with feet bowl with feet glaze     plate & tumbler

Do you want to purchase perfect and unique pieces this Christmas? Then look no further then Patches Market, taking place this Sunday 2nd December, 2012, at Magazino Hall at Valletta Waterfront. The 12th Edition will ooze local handmade crafts such as jewellery, hand painted items, fashion, brooches, ceramics, accessories, wearable art and scrumptious Christmas food. If you are ready to find special gifts for special people this Christmas, then this event should not be missed!

I recently visited Andrea Pullicino, who is selling her creations for the first time at Patches Market, showing me some of her striking pieces and shared some thoughts with the readers of EVE.

  1. When did you exactly start using clay? Tell us how you discovered the passion for ceramics.

When I was around 9 years old my father saw an advert in the papers for pottery classes and asked me if I’d like to try it. So patiently, every Friday he would be pick me up from class and ask me what I had made that day. It took about 4 years and many toothpick holders before I produced my first full sized teapot. I continued working under my first teacher, Anna Ciavola until I was around 15 when I had to stop to focus on my ‘O’ levels. After that I continued for a few years on and off due to studies and the non-commitment of adolescence, however 4 years ago I decided to commit again to the passion.

  1. I have a feeling this art needs a lot of patience and time. Can you briefly tell the readers of EVE more about the methods and creation process? Do you make preliminary drawings?

Ceramics is a process that involves many steps and quite a lot of technical knowledge, however it is also flexible and forgiving and allows even a novice to produce something very beautiful. My main work is ‘throwing’ on the wheel, the steps involved are preparing the clay by kneading it and forming it into a ball, this ball is then placed on the wheelhead and ‘centered’ as the wheel turns at the fastest speed. Once the clay is centered, the speed is reduced and you form a well in the centre of the clay and start ‘pulling up’ the sides of your vessel, forming the piece with your hands and some simple tools. Once ready, the piece is removed and left to dry to ‘leather hard’, this can take a day or 2 according to the weather. At this stage the piece is placed the other way round on the wheel head so that the bottom can be trimmed or ‘turned’ and the foot ring formed. The piece is left to dry again to ‘bone dry’ when it can then be given a bisque firing in the kiln. Once out and cooled the piece is then glazed, in my case using stoneware glazes, and fired for a second time for the magic to happen. Glazing is quite daunting to the beginner as the colour of the glaze has nothing to do with the final outcome since we are working mainly with metallic oxides and silica (sand). When I throw, I usually start off with a basic idea of the form I want to achieve however sometimes I see a new shape emerging and I go with it, but somehow the hand always produces a certain style, no matter how many different shapes you work with. With regards to glazing I have access to a good variety of glazes to choose from however the fun and uniqueness starts when you begin to layer different glazes, and to do this you need to test, test and test otherwise you can ruin a perfectly good piece!

  1. You are mostly creating pottery pieces. How would you explain your attraction for functional ceramics?

By nature I’m a practical person and I love things that have a function but are beautiful at the same time. This translates to my ceramics, I enjoy creating things that a person can have pleasure in using every day, they are not too precious to make someone anxious when using but at the same time personal enough to be treasured. My motto is that I would rather a piece breaks through the love of use than through being dusted once a week.

  1. I have noticed a touch of sensibility in your decorations. Tell us more about how you decorate and where do you get inspiration from. Have you defined your own style yet?

Its all about attachment and ritual…  the feeling that something belongs to you and the idea that it’s part of your everyday life, this is what inspires me to keep creating. I like the fact that my pieces have a certain timelessness to them, they are contemporary in style but somehow look like they have been there for a long time, they never look new. I’m a great lover of vintage and used finds so I’m sure it has its influences. I am also strongly influenced by Asian shapes and painting. I am currently focusing on Chinese painting styles on some of my pieces and attempting to translate Chinese watercolors into my glazing. It is quite challenging since one does not just ‘paint’ on a glaze as one does with paints, there is a transformation process where the oxides and silica melt, mix and fuse to form new colours, patterns and textures and its only through sampling and testing that one can begin to manipulate the outcome.

  1. This will be your first year selling your pieces, what feedback are you expecting?

I’m very excited about my upcoming participation in Patches, having been my only critic for so long I am very keen to see how people feel about my work. I am not a production potter and all my pieces have variations in them, I’m sure for many people this will be something they do not expect as we are so used to buying production ceramics that are cast from moulds. Although I strive to produce the best quality I am capable of, I always find that the little dents in the glaze, overpooling at the bottom of a bowl, slightly different sized plates give character to each item, they have a personality that becomes comforting in today’s clean and perfect world. Its not going to be about selling, but about meeting new people, having a chat and hopefully finding a home that needs exactly that size of little tumbler with the funny drip down the side!