In the 18th century, at the height of the industry, there were more than 40 pottery workshops and more than 200 potters making between 50,000 and 80,000 vases per year.
The insides of the vases were painted with brushes made of hair from a woman or a child attached to a reed, or so it’s said.
Once sculpted and painted, they were then fired on terra cotta mounts, with the tallest on the bottom and the smallest on the top. The kiln was then tightly sealed. The firing lasted three days, and the temperature could reach 800 and even 880 degrees Celsius. These mass-produced vases were exported from Antibes, Marseille and Genoa all throughout the Mediterranean, to the Americas and even reached the coasts of India
A UNIVERSAL VASE
The vase was used as a recipient for oil, grains, figs or water, and was an integral part of everyday life. During long journeys at sea, they held drinking water and food for the travellers. Every house had a vase for human fertilizer to use for farming. Finally, damaged vases were used as drainage to stabilise the stone walls that held up the terraced landscapes. They were also used like reused stones as construction materials.
THE DECORATIVE VASE
Starting in the 19th century, silos, barrels and tanks caused the decline of vases. They then became decorative elements. In the early 20th century and up to the 1980s, numerous vases decorated our streets and squares and adorned our landscapes. But three decades later, only a few remain.
THE WELCOME JAR
The last pottery workshop in Biot, Poterie Provençale - now closed, made around twenty vases for the town of Biot that are scattered throughout the streets of the town. The vases remain dear to our hearts: born from the work of many generations of potters, they bear witness to their efforts to add a bit of art to their functional creations.