The third interview in the series Ceramics and people is dedicated to Cèlia Pi, Anna's grandmother. We wanted to know her opinion about the ceramic pieces she has at home, as she has had them for a long time and they have been accumulating stories. We also wanted to know what she uses them for, and to focus on one of the main objectives of the pieces made of clay: to be practical for everyday use.
We accompany the questions of the pieces that Cèlia talks about in order to illustrate her answers and her memories.
What value do the ceramic objects you have at home have for you?
There are pieces that have value because they are antique, and there are others that have sentimental value. I cherish them all, they have been in the house for many years. I have a piece of earthenware that we bought with my grandfather in pieces. My daughter Maite asked me for it a few days ago to prepare a meal she was particularly looking forward to.
We also bought the coffee set, and I've had it for a long time. I also have plates that were given to me by a man who was very big, he had taken them to America and came back here with them.
Have any pieces broken?
Yes, my daughter gave me back a broken dessert plate from the earthenware. I was upset, but it's just a matter of buying another one.
Do you consider the pieces of this tableware to be of high quality?
No, it's just a normal, ordinary, earthenware. I don't think everyone has one. If you put it on the table with a chequered tablecloth, it creates a more familiar atmosphere. The tableware from when I got married, 65 years ago, is quality, it's porcelain. I use it to set the Christmas table.
So, depending on the piece you use at the table, do you think it creates one atmosphere or another?
Yes, it does. It depends on the day and the party, I choose one set of pieces or another. For example, in the past, if friends were coming over, I would use the earthenware and prepare bread with tomato, some beans with black pudding, etc. And I would also put a tablecloth to match. I see porcelain pieces as more for an important party.
Let's continue talking about tableware sets, is there one that you particularly like?
No, each one has its own sentimental meaning.
Have you ever given a piece as a gift?
My son Joan has a kitchen set to cook meat. There are the plates, the saucepan, the sauceboats, etc. I also gave him some boxwood forks that his grandfather had made.
You have often told me that you like food cooked in earthenware pots. Why is that?
Because the food comes out very good. When I used to go to my uncles' house who were farmers, we used to slaughter the pig and put everything in big earthen pots. We also put peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables. We cooked it and kept it in the same pots. The slaughter was in January or February, and we ate it in September, on the day of Saint Michael, which was the main feast day of the village where my uncles and aunts lived. It was delicious. The pot was used for cooking and preserving food. It was like a preserve.
Do you think there is an important difference between a piece made in a factory and a handmade piece?
There is a lot of difference. The factory piece will always come out the same, and the handmade one won't. It's very difficult to make two identical pieces. It is very difficult to make two identical pieces. In the factory, I don't know how they must do it, *certainly in a serialized way, and the handmade piece has to be made one by one: plate by plate, cup by cup... As far as I'm concerned, the handpiece is more valuable.
Why do you have a set of miniature cups? They are very small pieces, you can't use them to drink coffee.
They were already there when I moved to the house I had in Torreblanca (where I lived for a few years). I don't know what they are for. Maybe to make a pretty environment. There's a coffee pot, a teapot, a sugar bowl, the milk jug, the glasses...
Tell me about the pitchers that decorate the dining room.
There is one by Verdú, which your parents gave me. There's another one I bought in Argentona, at a jug fair.
*Verdu and Argentona are two Catalan towns with a long pottery tradition.
What other pieces do you have?
On the balcony, there's a huge pot where you've planted geranium. I also have a clay figure that my sister gave me. I tell her the woman with the pots. The spice racks hanging above the door were given to me by a man from an antique shop.
Can you tell me an anecdote related to the pieces you have?
Yes, I have one related to the large plates I mentioned at the beginning. They were given to me by an old man who had an orchard with a peach tree. He and his wife were very grateful to me, so they gave me one of the plates full of peaches. I told him that the dish was very nice. And he replied that if I liked it, he would take me another one. And he explained to me that the plates had been in America and had returned because that man went to live there for a few years. The dishes must be more than 120 years old, and they are from here.
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