The pottery factory in Lagoa

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On the Azores island Sao Miguel some might have noticed these beautiful road signs made out of white tiles with a dark blue painting. These tiles you can also find in churches or chapels or on walls of houses where they show complete scenes.

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If you want to know how they are made you should visit the workshop Viera in Lagoa. Here you can see the nearly the whole production.

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The clay comes from the island but has to be mixed with water so that it gets the perfect texture. Then the clay goes to the different work stations.

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At one place it will be cast. Here mostly hollow pieces are formed. After the casting each peace has to be reworked and finished. At the factory you will see hundreds of different forms.

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At another station clay is formed on a potter’s wheel. Here also wonderful pieces are made like pots, jugs or vases. Each piece is handmade. Altogether 8 people are working at the factory: 7 women and one man.

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Each piece is fired two times. Once directly after being formed. And a second time after being painted.

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The pieces are dipped in glaze. After having dried they can be painted. The wonderful blue colour which you can see everywhere is pink when painted. Only after being fired it turns deep blue.

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Also all the tiles are handmade. They go into the oven on small racks.

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The wonderful pictures on the tiles are made by drawing the pattern on the tiles. After that the single male worker at the factory puts some tiles on his easel and starts to paint them with a brush. And he repeats that with another pack of tiles. The other tiles rest during that time untouched on the floor.

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It is absolutely fascinating to watch how all these pieces are developed. Everything is interesting. The forming as well as the painting. It is such a nice creative act. In the factory the working atmosphere is very calm. You feel well there straight away.

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Normally traditional forms and patterns are used. But now and then new models are included into the program. For a complete scenery you have to wait up to two months.

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One figure was interesting and appeared at some points in the workflow. It is a woman that is dressed in a wide greatcoat. The huge hood is drawn deep into her face. So you can hardly recognize the person. Around this figure some exciting stories exist.

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In the integrated shop you can buy nearly all pieces. Prices are moderate. Whether tiles or house numbers, vases, candleholder. Everything is available. Even ceramic crib figurines can be bought. But there is also kitchen ware offered. Some interesting things like a special plate for fresh cheese.

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And the best part is: Entrance is free!