The art and chemistry of ceramics

“One of the cool things about art is that there is this synergy between science, craft and art.”

Fiorenzo Berardozzi balances the two in his studio. Create plates, dishes and cups that he doesn’t see as cut and copied stoneware.

“When I create a plate or a cup, I see it as an individual sculpture,” explains Berardozzi. “I can do two, three dozen, but I really do one plate at a time and they don’t look the same because I stop it when I see something interesting happening.”

clay, not mud

It all starts with clay. It may just look like the mud we know well here in the Lowcountry, but fluffy mud and this clay are certainly not interchangeable, as Berardozzi explains,

“The biggest difference is that clay is an inorganic material. Mud pluff is an organic material.

This perfume that we all know too well? It is decaying organic matter, mostly plant matter, that makes up the majority of fluffy mud.

“All this organic matter is coming off, there’s nothing to hold it together. In clay we need things like feldspars, which form crystals. So one clay is not everything.

To create what is called a “clay body”, he must mix different types of clay, minerals, to create a medium that is workable, strong and beautiful when dry. It’s a combination of chemistry, know-how and preference – different clays have different grain sizes.

“Like porcelain that’s super thin – almost buttery.” said Berardozzi. “On the other side of the spectrum is the one I use. It contains what is called grog, it contains these larger particles that help it stand up.

When dried, her unfinished ceramic works of art take on the natural color of clay – a warm, earthy brown. Additional colors and textures are generated with a glaze containing heavy metals and minerals that shine brilliantly when fired and finished. Cobalt, for example, creates a vibrant blue.

When it comes to using these glazes, he uses less accentuated aspects of his stoneware, but generally allows the coarse clay body to be the main star.

His work has been a hit with local restaurants, like Butcher and Bee, Husk, and many others who have used his plates to serve their own works of art.

Team Storm 2 meteorologist David Dickson

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