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June 26, 2019

A Trip to Tuscany

Last month The Balcony Garden was lucky enough to make a trip to Italy to visit our trusted manufacturer in Tuscany, Italy. Having introduced the Tommaso range a couple of years ago it was time to reconnect and discuss new designs.

Tuscany is the rural part of mainland Italy, and is in every way just like the postcard pictures you have seen. Rolling hills, rowed vineyards, medieval villages and vistas that run on and on. The soil in the ground here has been used to shape the landscape for as long as humans have been inhabiting the area. It is also this local earth that we use to shape our Tommaso range. This clay is called Galestro clay, and this is the best clay in the world for pottery – the real deal.

 

Hand shaping with the assistance of a mould.

The beautiful raw product

 

The story of Galestro begins as a rock that is then ground in a mill. Water is added to the Galestro powder to make an indigenous clay that is perfect for shaping pots. Its unique natural chemical make up means that once fired you have a frost proof, very tough terracotta article. We like to tell customers in The Balcony Garden showrooms that when struck it rings like a bell. Come in and try it!  Galestro terracotta provides a breathable, perfectly natural environment for plants to live in. And if a plant has to live above the earth, that’s the best place to be.

Our manufacturer is a multi-generational Tuscan local and artisan. Creating pots for customers all over the world, they still hand shape pots with methods used in-house for decades. For our Tommaso range, they take the Galestro clay and add a darkening oxide to produce the darker shade. Once shaped the pots are fired in a gas fired kiln close to 1000 degrees celcius; the gas kiln provides a very precise temperature control as well as being eco friendly. The whole firing process lasts for multiple days, with the ramp up to full temperature and ramp down to room temperature finely controlled over many hours. This is to ensure the structural change is exactly how the artisans want it. Even once the pots leave the kiln, the drying is further controlled so that the hardening & shrinking process is perfected. The end result is a beautiful article shaped by not only one set of hands, but the generations before it. It is this blend of ancient material and modern techniques that allows us to confidently claim the Tommaso range is of the highest possible quality.

The trip to Tuscany was fulfilling in many senses, we left our factory reinforced with the knowledge that we are providing the highest quality terracotta pots we can to the Australian market. If you have any questions about the range or if you want any more information regarding the techniques used, feel free to contact info@thebalconygarden.com.au

Pots air drying after shaping and before entering kiln

Post firing and starting the packing process. Gas kiln shown at rear.