Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to paint a single piece?
There is no one answer to this question. Each design is different. But elaborate, layered designs, such as Assisi, take as many as four hours per plate for the painting alone. Wall hangings, large vases and platters can take much longer. Painters sit in straight-back chairs, using a broomstick to rest their hands. All painting is done freehand and some of the brushes have only three or four bristles. It is an art in steadiness and patience, and one in which families have great pride. You'll notice that each Dolce piece is signed and dated by the artist on the bottom.

Is the clay white?
No. Dolce ceramics are made of red clay pulled from Italian soil. Pottery is fired then dipped in a tin oxide glaze that, when fired, turns bone white. Prior to the glaze firing, the pattern is stenciled then painted onto the tin oxide. The final firing unites the glazes and sets the colors. From the time a piece is begun it takes approximately six weeks to finish.

How are plates made?
Many of the pieces, such as mugs, bowls, pitchers, candlesticks and vases, are thrown on a pottery wheel. But others, including plates, are pressed by hand onto forms. It is a painstaking art to ensure an even distribution of the clay.

How do artists learn their craft?
The potters and painters of Deruta are often born into their art. Hence, they learn it from their parents and grandparents. Deruta is also home to a ceramics university, which teaches all things pottery. Dolce contracts with specific families and pays them professional wages in accordance with their masterful skill. The primary cost in our pottery is man-hours, because everything is done by hand.

Where do the patterns and designs come from?
Dolce tends toward the traditional. The style of our pottery and several patterns (such as Rooster Red) have been cherished by Italian families for three centuries. That said, many of our patterns are originals and only available from Dolce. Our originals are based on our travels through Italy. We pluck design themes from frames, frescoes and architecture and apply them to tableware. In the hands of our master artisans, the results are both fresh and classic, new and traditional.

How can you determine the quality of pottery?
There is a lot of Italian pottery, and all of it is not of equal quality. Our potters and painters have been hand picked for their skill at certain designs and styles. Their pottery is of an even thickness and appropriate weight. Each piece is symmetrical and well balanced. Our painters line work is graceful and consistent. And their colors are bold and vivid. If you hold a $40 mug and a $10 mug side by side, the difference is readily apparent - one is art, the other is not.

Can I use my tableware every day?
Use it as often as you like. Our ceramics, glassware and flatware are made to be used. We recommend hand washing or using a light cycle on your dishwasher. And, because there is tin in the glaze, our pieces are not safe for microwave use.