The Lost Amphora by Riccardo Masini

Riccardo Masini was born in Rome on December 4, 1984. After a journey in classical studies, he discovers his new passion for wood. Between 2015 and 2016, learned advanced turning and sculpting techniques from Maestros Maestro Claude Arragon and Giacomo Malaspina. After winning the “best rookie prize” at “Concorso Internazionale D’Arte I Dauni II ed”, in 2018 Riccardo Masini meets Marco Bellini and studies burning techniques on wood. In 2020, he joins the Wood Symphony Gallery in Los Angeles, one of the most important galleries for woodturners.

The Lost Amphora

An important part of my work is the Coral Collection. It started after my tour of Africa. It is a collection of dreams and memories. This type of work requires a deep connection with the wood. I just go about looking for the right piece of wood which best fits the image in my mind and then follow the wood grain and colors like a map. Harmony and the study of the curves in space are the basis of this work. The goal of the “Lost Amphora” project was to imagine an old commercial vessel losing its contents in the ocean. The corals would gradually colonize the amphora. Another intent was to join strength and fragility in the same artifact.

‘The piece is extremely rich in details most of them done with very little dentist tool (0.8mm) and it’s completely carved, even the internal part; I wanted to take the observer on a very deep trip. It required several months to complete with two years of sketch and research. The project started in the first part of 2018 and was completed in the first part of 2020. I didn’t use any pigments to alter the color of the wood. Finishing comes from old methods, most of them of the Cremona school of lutherie (‘700).’

The Beginning
Riccardo Masini: This project began in 2018 with many sketches. The idea behind the project was to bring the coral collection to upgrade not just to look like a coral item but to tell a story. The initial question was “what would happen if a merchant ship lost its contents in the ocean?” From this question, I started with many sketches of an old amphora. The idea was to create a part of an amphora with 70, 80% of corals onto it. In the first sketches, I had to underline the importance of the shape. The amphora should be perfectly recognizable. I decided to work on half of an Amphora, something lost and broken. For technical reasons, this was a good choice because it allowed me to remove the wood from the central part more easily. I wanted total colonization on the outside, where the light from the ocean is strongest, and a little colonization on the inside, where the light is less strong.

Main Techniques and Processes
Riccardo Masini: This piece is very rich in terms of techniques – to prepare the amphora I used the chainsaw to cut the right piece of wood and then gave it the shape on the lathe, using techniques of woodturning. I drilled at the end, removing wood from the inside, leaving the form with a great thickness. I have a lot of experience with the first three pieces of the collection and this great thickness allowed me to use a chisel for more pronounced volumes. Once I gave the right volumes with the chisel, I proceed with the dentist’s tool. It helped me a lot what Camille Pisarro told Cezanne:
“works altogether, the sky, the ocean, the houses… as fast that you can. Make your first impression on the canvas very quick and then complete slowly until it works… and dares, even at the cost of making mistakes”. That’s the way I can do a good job with the Amphora. The dentist tool part is the longest because to have so many different effects and decorations I used more than 30 tools with different shapes.

Main Challenges
Riccardo Masini: The first big challenge in this kind of work is to maintain concentration for many months of work, even if these months have been diluted in two years. After some months, I had to relax and move to other projects to recover from the fatigue. You workdays and days many hours but the work proceed for 1%, 2%. It’s very frustrating after months and you need to stop and recover.
Another very big issue is that not everything is clear from the beginning. Everything needs to be in harmony at the end but during the process, many things don’t collaborate and you have to make sketches to elaborate solutions. Every line should have a sense in the overview. You have to understand what really corals would do on an Amphora. Which one would colonize fast and where and then as Frank Lloyd Wright said “you need to have space because space is the art breath”. Full and empty have to be fully balanced. I wanted in some way something very fragile, with many empty spaces but at the same time something very strong.

Available Work:
Title: The Lost Amphora
Materials: Mixed technique on a Carob tree (Ceratonia silique)
Dimensions: 39(h) x 21(d) cm | Price: 7500€

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