Astrid Gotuzzo combines her passion for family history and ceramics to create plates, bowls and tiles that tell a story on the back of them.
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Astrid Gotuzzo just spent 12 years in Italy living, working and learning ceramics. She worked with a family that has been creating ceramics for over 150 years to learn as much as she could about their craft. She has included her love of storytelling and passing on family history into the design of her ceramic work. She makes plates, bowls, and tiles that have a story written on the back that follows a particular family history. Now, her 5-year-old daughter Alessandra is getting into the act and winning awards for her own works. For us, Astrid will be creating the last tile to fit into a multi-tile family history.
Astrid begins by rolling out a slab of clay to the proper thickness. Then, using a specially designed hand cutter or store-bought pizza cutter, Astrid cuts the shape of the tile. She uses a pre-made and pre-fired tile that has measurements marked on it to help estimate the shrinkage she should expect in firing. The tile needs to dry evenly, and so is put under a board on a drying rack. After two weeks of drying, the tile is cleaned, with some help from Alessandra, and then fired.
The tile is now ready for it's design. Astrid begins by painting the image on the front that will match the rest of the wall piece she is constructing. Then it is time to work on the story, which covers the entire back of the tile in hand-painted calligraphy. She cuts her own brushes to ensure she will have the neatest and smallest writing instrument possible for the piece. The tile is then fired again and placed as the final piece of the larger work.
Her daughter Alessandra also creates tiles. She hand builds them, just like her mother, and does them quite well considering she's only 5. She also paints them herself. Astrid does the writing on the back, since Alessandra can't yet write, but the stories are of Alessandra's creation. We will see Alessandra at work on a tile as well as see a finished piece she created.
This is a true family affair concerned with recording family events. The work becomes heirlooms to be passed down, thus continuing the history and making sure later generations still have a record of their heritage.