All of our ceramics are made in our factory in Palermo using craftsmanlike methods in every phase of the processing cycle.
The term ceramic comes from ancient Greek κέραμος, kéramos, which means “clay”, “potter’s earth”.
The clay is modelled with a potter’s wheel or by using hand held molds or presses.
Modelling with the Potter’s Wheel
The potter puts the clay into the centre of the turntable and keeps wetting it as it turns. Then, by using his fingers, he molds the walls of the object from the bottom upwards into the desired form. Utensils help give the finishing touches to the shape, and finally the object is lifted away from the wheel with a steel cable. After a brief drying out period, the clay reaches the required hard leather consistency, which allows it to be finished off and possibly engraved. Now, the handles and other parts can be attached because the clay is hard enough, although it still retains a certain level of plasticity.
Modelling with Molds
This method requires a mold that replicates the object that is to be reproduced. The clay is pressed manually into the shape and after a period of time it is lifted away from the mold and is finished by hand.
The pressing technique
This method requires a hydraulic clay or rotary press, in which printing matrixes are placed, one male and one female, which when joined together press the clay between them and create the typical De Simone shapes. After the modelling process with the wheel, the mold or the press, the object is exposed to the air so that it can dry out naturally and become accustomed to the humidity level, which also helps it to reach the required level of plasticity. The terracotta becomes a reddish colour due to the presence of iron oxide and salt, which occurs when the clay is baked in huge ovens at around 960°C. The object is immersed in a glaze that covers it with a white layer, which serves as a base for the decoration. The decorating phase is the moment when a blanket of colours explode and bring to life an inexhaustible variety of scenes. This unfolds a multicoloured parade of mermaids and paladins, farmers and sailors carrying out traditional activities, musical bands and town festivals, all rigorously produced by hand using unleaded colours. After the glazing and decorating, the objects are baked in the oven for a second time at about 900°C, which permanently fixes the glaze and gives the ceramic its typical resistance and shine.
The handmade articles in white clay are the best in our collection, characterized by the lightness and fineness of the mixture, which can be compared to porcelain. The white paste is a well-known mix of clay and water, which is used in its liquid state and poured into a plaster mold. The plaster absorbs the water and draws in the clay, which solidifies onto the inside walls of the mold forming a thickness that gradually increases. When the thickness has reached its full capacity and the excess liquid is tipped out of the mold, the desired piece is ready. The next stage is identical to the red clay process: finishing, baking, glazing, decorating and final baking.
Franco was Giovanni De Simone’s pupil at the “Liceo Artistico” in Palermo, where he stayed until 1977, when he was invited to embark upon his artistic career at the ceramics school. He is now considered the most experienced artist in the team. His current colleagues say that he is a charismatic figure and he is in charge of the decorating department.
In 1980, at the age of 22, Epifanio was personally selected by Master Giovanni De Simone to learn about style and proportion. Fano is now a humorous designer and has gained more than 30 years of experience working as an artistic designer at Ceramiche De Simone enriching the traditional decorations with new features.
In 1972, at just seventeen years old, Ignazio began to demonstrate a special manual ability and skill in the use of machinery. Since 1990 he has been working with white clay and has reached high levels of refinement and precision. “I will never forget how Master De Simone would smile at me; it was a trusting smile”.
Maurizio La Placa
Maurizio has known Master Giovanni De Simone since 1988, when he was just 21. Making use of his organisational talent, he soon began managing the company’s logistical side, from sales to the packaging of goods. Today he is in charge of the whole warehouse, where he can put his historic memory of the varied Ceramiche De Simone production to good use.
Santo joined Master De Simone’s Scuola Artistica in 1974, when he was 17 years old. At first he was involved with “little molds”, and became so fascinated by working with red clay using a potter’s wheel that the Master put him to the test and soon discovered that the youngster had an exceptional talent. Today Santo is one of the most sought after potters and clay modelling experts that work with a potter’s wheel, as if it were an extension of his body. He is also the head of the factory.
Serafino was only 14 when he came across the Giovanni De Simone artistic school. He began working with hydraulic and mechanical presses, and eventually gained more experience by preparing clay, obtained through a combination of various minerals. Today, he is able to understand straightaway whether or not the clay is of a high quality.
Salvatore was only 16 when he got his first glimpse into the world of ceramics, decorating half inch thick tile molds/masks. Over the years, his manual dexterity has given him success and he has mastered every phase of the production cycle, from glazing and managing the ovens to surface painting and spinning.
Pietro Greco Ina
In July 1981, Pietro designed his very own personalised collection for Master De Simone, who wanted him to undergo one of his famous psycho-analysis tests. He initially began working with “little molds” for decorating and then he dedicated himself to glazing and baking, until he finally became involved in the real decorating process. Today, he is in charge of Ceramiche De Simone’s artistic kilns, due to his versatile nature and a good thirty years of experience.
Anna Maria Tarantino
“You have to play with the colours” – It was because of this statement that Master De Simone introduced Anna to the world of ceramic decorating. That was in 1982. Nowadays, Anna, who is as valuable as a diamond in the decorating department, paints the surfaces of some of the more complex works and, due to a wealth of experience, she is able to continue producing the original chrome colours that indentify the De Simone brand name.
In 1984, Antonia met Giovanni De Simone and was fascinated by his artistic work at the ceramics school. She is a very fast and skilful decorator, who is above all dedicated to painting surfaces for the “Mangiallegro” and “Folk” collections. With her Palermitan warmth, Antonella strengthens the spirit of the group and brings to life the young and playful spirit of Ceramiche De Simone.
Giuseppina met Master De Simone in 1980. “When I first joined the school I wasn’t sure whether I had any artistic talent, as I had never even drawn properly before”. Due to the Master’s extraordinary intuition, Giusi continues to work in production, where she designs all of the products for every collection, with complete mastery and instinctive expertise. She also deals with the complex alchemy of colours and their compositional aspects.
Caterina Lo Gelfo
When Caterina met Master De Simone in 1974 she discovered two great loves at the “school”: art and her husband, who was also a pupil and a member of staff. You feel a real sense of “family” when listening to the stories of sons of sons who have worked for De Simone over the years. These days, Catherine, who is a passionate decorator, dedicates her time to painting the surfaces of designer pieces and also specialises in technical decoration and little masks.
Anna graduated from the Istituto d’Arte in Palermo and since 1986 has worked at the De Simone artistic school in the art and technical field. Thanks to a wealth of experience she manages to make the colours on the vases, plates and other items made from clay, shine like magic.
“Errors are fine, they are just signs of your personality” With these words full of enthusiasm and positivity Master De Simone reassured the young Erminia when she showed a desire to pursue a career within his school. Now, Ermenia is a decorator and a colour experimenter who dedicates her time to surface painting.
Alice is an artist from Catania, who graduated from the “Conservazione dei Beni Culturali”. She did an apprenticeship at a workshop that makes Sicilian carts, run by Master Domenico di Mauro. She is passionate about popular traditions, and edits the “Sicilian Myths and Legends” section in the magazine Aliante. In 2011 she joined the De Simone “family” as a decorator, and was also given the role of managing external relations for the Ceramiche De Simone brand.
Elisabetta graduated from the Istituto d’Arte in Bagheria in 2003, with her final dissertation on pictorial decoration. Since joining De Simone in 2011, she has become one of the newest members in the decorating department. She paints the surfaces of the ceramics with a painstaking precision and enormous energy.