Villa Bologna Pottery uses the technique of slip casting to make ceramics. The total process has many stages and takes several weeks to make each piece.

Making Slip

Every piece of Villa Bologna Pottery is handmade using the finest earthenware clay, which we import specially from in Stoke-on-Trent. Its superior quality means we have been using the same suppliers for decades. Once the clay arrives on Malta, we take the first step in our making process: preparing the clay for use. We do this by making slip, a liquid mixture of clay and water with the consistency of melted chocolate.


Once the slip is perfectly smooth, it’s ready to be poured into our hollow plaster moulds. Like the clay itself, our moulds are made by hand in Stoke in the traditional way, using plaster – a material designed to absorb the moisture from the slip. Made of at least two parts, they need holding together to stop the slip dribbling out; we’ve found that the inner tubes of bike wheels make the best bindings. As the plaster starts absorbing the liquid, the outside surfaces of the clay begin to dry. Gradually, the whole piece becomes strong enough and we can remove the mould, leaving the cast shape behind. This step can take from a few hours, for our smaller platters, to overnight, in the case of our large Pineapples. It’s at this point that our potters add any extras that might be needed, such as handles or decorative 3D details, like leaves.

Air Drying

The clay is still quite fragile at this stage and needs to dry further – for a few days at least, though some of the larger lamps can take weeks. We’re often at the mercy of the weather at this point – Malta’s hot summers are wonderful for drying, but the winters can be cold and humid, so everything takes that little bit longer. We’ve learned that you just can’t hurry these things.


The rough and uneven edges of the air-dried pieces are then trimmed and finished by hand, using a damp sponge and specialist tools. This process, known as fettling, ensures all our pieces are perfectly smooth before painting.


We’ve been using the same underglaze suppliers for decades too. The pigments come to us in powdered form, which we then mix with water and delicately apply to the surface of the pottery. It’s not unlike working with watercolours, as the paints can be layered and built up to create different effects. Sometimes, our painters will scratch the paint for extra texture, as in our Aldo Fish designs.

Bisque Firing

Before it can be glazed, the pottery has to go into the kiln for its first firing, known as the bisque or biscuit firing. We have two kilns at Villa Bologna Pottery, which we heat to 1,140° Celsius before loading their shelves with painted wares. We leave the pottery in there overnight before allowing it to cool properly, which can take another 12 hours.


After its first firing, the clay will have gone through major chemical and physical changes, but – crucially – it’s still porous, so it can absorb the glaze. As with the our paints, we mix powdered glazes with water to create the perfect consistency. We dip our painted pieces in a crystal-clear glaze, which makes their different hues gleam, while our solid-colour designs are hand-painted with three layers.

Glaze Firing

Once the excess glaze has been rubbed off, to avoid any inconsistencies of colour, the pottery goes back into the kiln – once again heated to 1,140° Celsius – for its second firing.

Final Selection

The pottery is almost ready. At this stage, the only thing left to do is to sand the bottom of each piece to make it velvet smooth. Each and every item is then individually checked, making sure that only the very best pieces make it to our shop and then into your hands.