Bare hands and clay are all it takes to make the coffee table we’ve dubbed Tototò. Our clay comes from Tuscany and is known as "Red Refractory" because it contains chamotte: ground potsherds used to temper the clay by contrasting its natural water absorbency.
The result is a noble, more porous and malleable clay, a material ideal to work with.
Clay is no more or less than residual sedimentary rock, from salt or fresh water. After being mined, it's simply filtered to remove larger bits and pieces. If you find a pebble or two, you can be sure it was nature that put it there. That's all there is to it – it doesn't get more organic than that.
The result is a natural compound, recyclable and heat resistant: 26 hours in the kiln, where the temperature can get as high as 1030° C. Before being fired the clay rests for 20 hours, and afterward it dries for about two weeks, depending on the weather. Speaking of weather, clay can withstand nearly anything, so it's perfect for outdoors, too.
An amorphous block (but carefully weighed and measured) is the starting point of a constantly evolving process: in the potter's hands, the clay moves like an accordion until it attains its ideal shape. That's right – every item has its own, give or take a centimeter here or there, with its own unique identity.
The "toccio" or finger-dip is the only time the potter's hand leaves the clay, to moisten the material with water and keep it at the right consistency. Then the hand starts caressing the material again, in small, revolutionary movements: a subtle flick reverberates through the roundness of the surface,
coming ever closer to the end result.
The whole time, the foot keeps the beat like an expert drummer. Using a small pedal, it decides how fast the wheel turns, and the specific rhythms of that unique individual piece.
Out with one, in with the next. Is it dark already? Then we’ll pick up where we left off tomorrow.