Cretans have been making ceramics for more than 12,000 years. Cretan Ceramics have always had functional as well as decorative uses – storage of foods, oil, wine; for decoration of houses – including the Minoan Palace at Knossos, where pithari identical in form to those made by our potters have been excavated.
Our Cretan potters are the best of the best, master potters of Thrapsano - the most famous pottery region in Crete. The potters of Thrapsano (Thrapsaniotes) are considered to be descendants of Minoan potters. Traditionally “Thrapsaniotis” is synonymous with the potter and in particular with the special type of pot “pitharas”. Our master Thrapsano potters produce some of the best ceramics in the world.
The materials used for the manufacture of our Cretan ceramics have remained unchanged over the millennia: earth, water, fire and the hands of a talented artist potter. The soil must be rich in clay (pitharochoma) – such soil is found generally in Crete but is of especially good quality in and around Thrapsano. But it must also be carefully screened to ensure its quality and removal of unwanted materials – a process that is done meticulously our own potters themselves. These simple ingredients are then shaped into a plethora of shapes and sizes, according to traditional form, needs and tastes.
The ‘mud’ is first worked until it reaches a consistency at which it can be formed. Small ceramics up to 30cm height are made on electrically-operated wheels, but the larger pieces 30-70cm high are made on a wheel operated manually by foot pedal and slowly formed by the bare hands of the potter. Very large pieces (up to 2m high) require two people – one to operate the wheel and the artisan potter to form the object. The objects are then left to dry, in a region which has virtually no humidity. Such large objects cannot be moved, so a torch is used to dry them on the wheel before the
next section is added on. The objects are left to dry in a region which has no humidity. Large objects are often dried in sections using a torch on the wheel before the next section is added on. Afterwards the pots are baked in a kiln for about 14 hours at 1080˚C and left to cool for at least 14 hours, then ‘quenched’ by immersing or filling with water and left for 24 hours. The pots are frost-resistant to at least -10˚C and withstand extreme heat. They survive for thousands of years. Weathering and age simply enhances their natural beauty.