A few months ago, I published a post about some exciting new Italian ceramics by the mysterious ‘Flower Painter’ that I had found. You can read the post by clicking here. As they sadly didn’t reveal the identity of the designer or factory, but just tantalised with more clues, I set the challenge of finding out more. A number of you very kindly got back to me with different names found on similar ceramics in your collections. These included ‘Milvia’ and ‘Simo’, the latter found by George from Virginia, USA on a vase. I’m usually very suspicious about names signed in the image on Italian ceramics, mainly as they were usually simply put there to add value, making the vase look ‘artist-signed’. The most notable examples of this were made in San Marino. Although I can’t find anything more out about Simo (yet?), Milvia ‘has legs’. A little light research shows that the name also appears on a range of tea towels produced in 1973 for a homewares company …

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It’s pretty typical for really rather good things to appear and come in just after I’ve printed a book on them. And, typically, those pieces answer a question that I hadn’t been able to solve before printing the book. In this instance it concerned Alla Moda, my new book on Italian mid-century pottery. My keen-eyed friend Kevin Graham, of Fat Lava and Pottery & Glass Forum fame, spotted this vase on etsy and told me about it. I’ve very rarely spent £29 faster! The American seller knew that it was by Fratelli Fanciullacci from the label on the base, which has a prominent ‘FF’ logo. As readers of Alla Moda will know, the company is really rather important, and the yellow painted marks are usually another indicator of a Fanciullacci piece. But what interested me was the rest of the label, as it helps to answer what the numbers painted on the base may mean. ‘Art.’ must be article, so the shape of the …

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Those of you who have bought Alla Moda, my new book on mid-century Italian ceramics, will have seen a double page spread of quirky ceramics by an as yet unknown company and designer who ‘signs’ each piece with a stylised four petalled flower. I’ve pretty much fallen in love with them! At the Midcentury Fair last weekend, Haji & White were on the stand next to me. One of their favourite areas is the 1958 Brussels Exposition, or World’s Fair, which was an important showcase of postwar design and industry. Amidst the brochures, models of the Atomium, and posters, I was delighted to spot three ceramics by The Flower Painter, a large wall charger, a small square dish, and a ‘one-person’ tiny ashtray. Each shows the famously friendly hostesses that helped visitors to the park and pavilions. A price for the three pieces was worked out, and I added them to my collection. Although they still don’t reveal the identity of the maker or designer, I have learnt a number of new …

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It’s out and it’s on! Last Saturday I joined Graham Cooley at the King’s Lynn Arts Centre in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, to launch Alla Moda, the exhibition behind my latest book. With over 750 ceramics on display, Graham’s private collection is almost certainly the largest private collection of Italian ceramics in Europe, if not the world. The main room houses a truly stunning display of ceramics by major makers, and is dominated by a central grouping of hexagonal pedestals displaying Bitossi ceramics from the 1950s-80s. Even if you think you know Bitossi, you’re sure to find many surprises here. We know this as a number of dedicated Bitossi collectors kindly joined us for the launch, and all went home with dozens of ‘new’ ranges to look out for and add to their collections. Fans of Bitossi designer Aldo Londi’s famous ‘Rimini Blu’ range will be delighted by the 100+ pieces on display, which include his hotly sought-after stylised animals, and some very rare forms and glazes. Just because it’s Bitossi and blue, it doesn’t mean it’s …

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My new book on mid-century modern Italian ceramics, Alla Moda, has just arrived, and the exhibition is about to be launched. Sitting last night looking through the book made me remember the long journey I’ve made putting it together. I also thought about all the elements that went into making it, here are some statistics:

3,064 – kilometres (1,904 miles) travelled by plane on a return journey from London Gatwick to Pisa with British Airways 1,689 – kilometres (1,050 miles) travelled by car around the UK on photoshoots 988 – kilometres (614 miles) travelled through Italy in a speedy Fiat hire car 749 – metres above sea level – highest altitude reached while researching (Monte Titano) 478 – high resolution digital photographs shot by (mainly) a professional photographer 54 – centimetres (21.75in) of shelf space taken up by new books added to my library 16 – museums and archives visited 11 – nights in Italian hotels 9 – Italian cities, towns, or villages visited 5 – days of a professional editor’s time 4 – days of a professional …

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