In 2006, I have joined a workshop in La Meridiana.. to Smoke Firing workhop with Luca Tripaldi.
I was a bit nervous before the travel, since it was my first workshop abroad, I wasn't quite sure if my knowledge on clay will be good enough and at what level the other participants will be.. also i wasn't sure if i can manage to find my way to school, considering the fact that i didn't know even a word in Italian..(actually, i started learning Italian right after I got back, so you see those workshops has very different influences on you!!).. First I needed to fly to Rome, then took a train from the airport to Roma Termini, took another train to Florence and changed to last train to Siena and got off at the station of Certaldo..I know it doesn't sound very easy but actually it was a pretty smooth journey and I arrived in Certaldo one Sunday Evening at the end of July 2006.
They picked up us - me and another participant from US - and after 10 minutes journey, we arrived at La Meridiana..
It is in a beautiful 15th century building.. There is a big studio with a high ceiling, in which lessons take place and a small gallery where you may see some very nice works from different ceramic artists, including Pietro Maddalena's- the owner of the school... The school is surrounded by a big garden.. we have eaten our lunches and have our coffee breaks in that beautiful garden... there is also a wood firing kiln which was under-construction when I was there..
After we have met with Luca briefly, they took us to where we were going to stay.. "i giuggioli"
It is a restored farmhouse, just about 10 minutes by walk away from school.. I stayed there with other 7 participants, we had wonderful dinners on the terrace overlooking famous Tuscan view..
During the workshop, Luca taught us 3 different techniques of smoke firing that you can get very different results with.. He is very good, genial and considerate teacher... Also as a ceramic artist, he creates delicate, fine pieces.. you can see them here.
After this workshop, I tried these techniques at home a couple of times with very good results.. Nowadays, I am not using them very often, but i always use some throwing tips that Luca has given.. I also have met with very nice people there.. Maria Grazia Staffieri is one of them and she is using smoke firing techniques perfectly..
If you ever want to take a week off and spend time with clay, while having your holiday in Tuscany, with beautiful people and gorgeous food, I highly recommend this school...