Continuing to a direct line of a potters’ saga that reaches to the early nineteenth century, Arturo Mora is the only current exponent of lustreware in Manises. Lustreware is a technique used to make reproductions of historical ceramic pieces whose origin dates back to the “obradores” of the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries in Manises. A potter who still produces a collection of freehand painted lustreware pieces which have been thrown in the potter’s wheel and fired for the third time in a reduction atmosphere, as the Spanish-Muslims lustreware was performed.
We Know a little about your start which is strongly related to your family artisan company. How did you start your professional career?
My father loved ceramics because it was more than a business for us, and it was our passion when we were young. During holidays, I used to go to my father’s studio to play with ceramics and watched the way in which the artisans elaborated and skillfuly painted the ceramic pieces. I still remember the cooking of muffle, the sound of the electric “buzzer” that indicated the need to fuel the wood-burning oven, etc. It’s one of my childhood memories deeply rooted in the ceramics, and which helped me to choose this profession.
You have the unique studio in Manises that keeps using the metallic reflection technique. Could you explain to us a little how is the process of making a ceramic piece while using this technique?
I use the same technique of the fifteenth century. All the pieces are created in the potter’s wheel, once they are dry, we paint them with cobalt blue, and they are cooked in a first firing of 1050 ° C –sponge cake or socarrat. Then, we adorn them with tin enamels and lead, and re-cook them at 980 º C. To finish, the pieces are decorated with the metallic reflection on the glazed earthenware and fired them for the third and decisive time in a reduction atmosphere of 650 ° C. Finally and after removing these pieces from the oven, while we are cleaning them , the magical metallic reflection appears.
You are an exceptional case, because you’ve got a remarkable international recognition for your work. Indeed, your pieces are exhibited in prestigious museums and art centers such as the Leighton House Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Gewebermuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and others. Do you think that you are well-known in your country too?
Yes, Manises is a village with a long pottery tradition whose people appreciate the work and the art of a ceramic piece.
It seems that the traditional pottery has lost market share, and that people look for other items to decorate their houses. What do you think? Do you have to reinvent the traditional objects? Or, do you believe in keeping yourself purist towards the original processes and techniques of each piece?
There is always a place for all styles, because, as in classical music, the classics never go out of fashion. In my opinion, there should be investigated constantly, to update the traditional ceramics and also create new designs of the highest quality. We still have a great ceramic heritage to impress the world.
Some ceramists have taken the first step to open up doors of their workshops, so they can present to public the person of potter and his freehand skills in the creation process. Do you think that this direct contact with the materials in the space where these pieces are made could motivate people to get so closer to the ceramic craftwork?
Undoubtedly, it is necessary to open the workshops to public and even take them out to the street, as we do in Manises. Next year I will join the open house of the workshops in Manises. We plan to make a cooking of the metallic reflection in the wood-burning oven which we preserve in our workshop. It is necessary to see and understand the work that exists in a ceramic piece for a great commercial success, which necessarily makes also a good exhibition of ceramics in Manises to be known.
You Keep a constant renovation of objects and collections in the catalog of your studio. What are you working on at present?
I am immersed in a new classic collection of my design which combines the cobalt blue and golden reflection, besides the making of a video about the creation of my fifth Vessel of Alhambra- a piece of 1.30 m tall.
How does the economic crisis affect your sector?
This sector was already afected by the crisis of thousands of foreign imports that have destroyed many small ceramics workshops in Manises.
The internet is the new available tool to everyone, and which we have to use to present our high-quality ceramics. We are adapting ourselves to the new times when coming to the pottery workshop to buy ceramic pieces is no longer necessary.