A Visit to Cesare’s Copper Art Studio
We visited Bottega del Rame, the laboratory (studio) of third generation copper artisan Cesare today in the town of Montepulchiano, Tuscany, Italy. Cesare is a true character, he loves the ladies. He speaks not a word of English, but he makes you feel welcome nonetheless. Again, our fearless leader and tour coordinator Pamela Haack did all the heavy translating, it’s not even a challenge for her to keep up with the information and the humor!
We learned about hand hammering copper and the importance of accuracy. Cesare explains to us that if he is more than 30 hammer hits off, the copper will not vibrate properly, and not only will it not “ring” when he hits it with the hammer, but it will not conduct heat to his standards either.
All of Cesare’s copper pots and pans are pure copper lined with tin on the inside, and they are heavy! My new pan weighs almost 5 lbs, but it’s going to be well worth the trip home, I’ll have it for a lifetime.
We learned that the tools Cesare works with, have been handed down to him from his father and his grandfather, some tools date from 1854. He showed us a couple of his favorite tools for indenting design work into the surface of the copper, and how they were a little worse for wear. The furnace in his studio is a working original piece of equipment from 1850!
After the demonstration of his craft in his laboratory (studio) Cesare took us next door to show us his copper museum. His museum is a room that holds the treasures of his family’s work, and his own personal collection of copper art.
There are 17th Century Tuscan pieces in the copper museum collection, you can see them in the above photo, the darker colored water vessels with the elaborate stamped patterning on the surface. Cesare was very proud to show us each and every item in the museum collection. He even has the very first pan with a lid that he made at age 14 (below) and the first embossing piece he created at age 12.
Spending the morning with Cesare was a real treat. His sense of humor, his story telling, his talent, and his amazing laboratory were captivating to each and every one of us, as artists AND tourists. Thank you Cesare!
Lunch and Shopping
After our presentation, we headed down to visit Cesare’s “Minister of Finance” (his wife) who runs his copper shop. We all marveled over his work with a new appreciation for the, time, effort, and generations of talent that goes into it. What a wonderful experience!
For lunch, we sat outside café style and watched people walking up and down the main street of Montepulchiano. I finally had pizza in Italy, and boy was it good! Cheese, mushrooms, ham, and olives on a wonderful thin and crispy crust.
Not only does this town offer wonderful hand made copper, but it also has amazing leather works. It’s hard not to stop in every store front on your way through. Such artistry and craftsmanship, what a lovely way to spend the morning.
Another Great View!
Just before we met the busses, we got a great view of the town from slightly below. My student Elizabeth (from Florida!) said she would love to paint the view. I told her that all the straight lines gave me anxiety!
Truly though, what a beautiful Tuscan town to spend the morning in. And the weather held out, the forecast was rain but we had too many smiling faces for rain on our parade. The clouds rolled around and looked ominous, and it even rained back at the villa, but we were high and dry in Montepulchiano.
Afternoon in the Studio
Upon returning to the villa we had about a half an hour break and then we hit the studio again. The students worked diligently on their sunflowers util the dinner bell rang. Another dinner where we sat down at 8:00pm and didn’t get up until 10:30. There’s no rush when eating in Italy!
Sign up Early for Next Year!
Pamela and I are crafting the itinerary for next year’s Paper Paintings Italy Retreat, and we have some new and improved things in store! Stay tuned to our last two days and how things unfold. Soon you will eve be able to save your spot by registering on line and if you so choose, a payment plan is available!