In Italy Impruneta is considered to be the “champagne” of terracotta and has been so for centuries. This particular clay is so special that only seven potters are licensed by the Italian government to use the name.
The secrets of this wonderful product are revealed when investigating the two major aspects which set Impruneta above the rest.
The first factor is the type of clay used. It is only found around the village of Impruneta by the river Arno near Florence and it is extremely stony thus rendering the pot incredibly strong, in the same way that adding gravel to cement strengthens the mix.
The second unique factor is the procedure for making the pots, that is moulding them by hand into plaster cases, a system developed in the Florentine Renaissance and used ever since. This allows the shapes to be made under very low pressure so as to keep air holes intact and not “squeezed out”. This concept also allows any design or pattern to be built directly into the pot which results in a stronger structure compared to a weaker one where the patterns or designs are added on afterwards.
The Impruneta process allows the fired pot to breathe and freezing water can escape out of the pot structure without causing damage. The only drawback of this procedure is the time involved in the drying process; up to 4 weeks with regular turning required and all done by hand.
Our pots are all fired very slowly at over 1000 degrees and there is a huge waste in the production. The finished article is guaranteed against frost, sun or sea-air corrosion for 20 years.
Impruneta pots adorn many great houses throughout Europe and this terracotta is commonly found to last over 100 years. However, it is arguably not so much for its resistance against the elements and consequent longevity that Impruneta is so prestigious. It is perhaps more because of its elegant and natural style of ageing over the years that Impruneta pots stand to remind us of the true meaning of the word quality.