Painting dishes in Deruta

By special request, here are some photos of dishes I painted in Deruta one summer! Bea and Edith of the Art Workshop have established quite an Umbrian network over the years, and they suggested that I bring samples of my work to Ubaldo at the Grazia factory. Ubaldo was known for inviting foreign designers to use his facilities, in the hope of acquiring interesting “modern” patterns for his production line. He agreed that I could come paint, with only one stipulation: “Make two of everything, and leave us one.” It certainly sounded promising!

I don’t know if they still welcome novices in their midst, but at the time, there had already been quite a stream of foreign artists coming through, with little or no experience in majolica painting. We were given a place to sit, and a few dishes left over from a previous order to paint, and then–looking left and right to see how our neighbors were doing it–just dug in. Not surprisingly, our results were a little hit or miss, and because our experiments had low priority, it could take two weeks before you found out what kind of red that greyish powder became, once fired. Out the back door was a large heap of broken dishes where the more daring of us buried our disasters; the rest of us blushed to see our signed failures on the seconds table!

The local painters, many of whom had been working in the factory for minimum wages since the age of twelve, did not welcome our intrusion. They resented our freedom to come and go as we pleased, and our uncouth methods; they gossiped about us shamelessly to our faces. Their specialty was reproducing the traditional Deruta patterns, and they lived in fear that they might be required to reproduce our designs one day! 

Though it was not a very comfortable situation, I did learn a few things, and came away with enough dishes to hold a dinner party for twenty. Here are some of the black and white ones–my cunning way of getting around the “unknown colors” issue!




5 Responses to “Painting dishes in Deruta”

  1. What a great experience and I love your dishes 😉


  2. believe u me nothing beats betsys wild aspergus pasta in those dishes. /bobo

  3. Hi Betsy,
    I miss your posts. Hope all is well. Karol

    • Betsy Lahaussois Says:

      Thank you, Karol–all is well, but all is hectic, know what I mean?! I do plan to get back to the studio AND the posts ASAP….

  4. I love these dishes so much!! I couldn’t pick one favorite. What a special experience – thank you for sharing.

    Betsy, I have tagged you for a “One Lovely Blog” award. 🙂

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