Terra sigillata: a thousand-year-old technique
The galaxies collection was born from a technical challenge: reproducing the procedure of the terra sigillata whose recipe had already been described by Vitruvius. At the time of the Etruscans and Romans, the possibility of vitrifying objects was the exclusive prerogative of emperors. Ordinary people were unable to bear the cost.
A technique was then developed which consisted in allowing the clay to settle for a long time in water, removing from time to time the heaviest part that deposited on the bottom, until obtaining a extremely smooth and soft clay. With this material a new product was created or an existing one was covered to make it partially waterproof without resorting to vitrification. I followed Vitruvius' recipe with extreme precision, without ever obtaining a satisfactory result. The research took a long time , because the decanting of the clay in drinking water and then in demineralized water did not give the desired results. One fine day I decided to use rainwater. Obviously, I immediately realized that today's rainwater was not as clean as in the days of Vitruvius, so I collected it at least half an hour after the onset of the rain.
I finally found the right water to decant the clay for several months and obtain a sufficiently fine and thin substance, capable also to achieve the shine requested by me. In addition to producing a vitrifying effect, the decanted earth was used to decorate the artifacts. It was distributed on the objects with the splinting technique and then over and over with a river stone or a bone until a shiny and silky finish was obtained. The famous red and black Greek vases remain testimony to this process. I have updated the technique of terra sigillata to create absolutely essential and clean objects , cooked in a tank full of combustible material. When I extracted the first piece from the ash I appreciated the absolutely unpredictable texture in light gray and dark black colors, left by the sawdust and leaves, which immediately evoked the infinite world of galaxies to me. Terra sigillata has a very delicate visual beauty and a surprising tactile beauty, which causes the hand to caress them to appreciate the silky surface.