Whether it’s formal fine dining or a casual lunch alfresco, the perfect plate plays an important part in a stylish table setting. Quite apart from its practical purpose, a beautiful plate not only makes the table look inviting but somehow makes food taste better. Our high-quality, handmade plates and serving platters set the ambience for a memorable meal long before supper has been served. Read on for the full story of the heritage and craftmanship behind our celebrated Horezu ceramics.
Here is the courtyard of the pottery workshop of Ana and Biscu Zina. It belongs to Ana’s parents in Olari, near Horezu. The town’s houses are highly decorated with ceramic plates or ceramic patterns.
Horezu ceramics are a unique pottery traditionally handmade in Horezu, in Romania. They are on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists which protects important cultural heritages.
Ana’s parents were both potters and she learned her knowledge and skills from them. Ana shares this small workspace with her father.
Ana is a grandmother. Her children live outside the village. There are now few young potters working in Horezu. The younger generation don’t want to or can’t work in the villages anymore. Instead they work in the bigger cities or in other parts of Europe.
Nowadays most of the potters buy the clay for convenience. However, the Zina family continue to make the clay themselves. Here local clay is being prepared with other materials to be used for the pottery.
Turning clay into a ceramic is physical hard work which the men tend to do. Here is Ana’s husband Biscu making the heavy wheel work.
The first step is to make the shape. This happens at great speed so the paste doesn’t dry and can take less than a minute.
The ceramics are put in the shade to dry for about 10 days.
After drying the plate is finished with a knife to remove excess clay and give a smooth finish. Holes are added so the ceramics be hung on the wall.
The decoration is largely done by women. Ana moves the potter’s wheel with her feet, her handwork must be super exact. She uses a hollowed-out bull's horn with a goose feather in its tip, which works like a pen, to trace the finest of lines.
Blue and ‘Horezu ivory’ the two colours seen in our two designs of ‘Spiral’ and ‘Peacock’ are natural and made from local clay.
Traditional decorative elements - which appear in Romanian embroidery - appear on the ceramics. These include snakes, the tree of life, wavy lines, wheat ears and stars. Various flowers and herb which are symbols of good luck and prosperity also feature, as does a spiral pattern which signifies the whirlwind of life.
Once the pottery has been painted with patterns, they do the first firing in a wood-burning stove. You don’t see the real colour before this.
They are then painted in a transparent glaze before being fired for the last time.