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No.102 Nestled in the Hills of Crete, an Artisan’s Studio

In Crete, lying on a beach is most likely the reason you first thought of visiting this island in the deep south of Greece. Many of us from northern climes get a hankering to feel the sun on our skin during long winters, or in spring when impatience for the coming warmth becomes unbearable. Our purpose is singular; shed our clothes, find a spot on a sandy beach and While away a few days reading those books we have not been able to find time for.

The problem arises once we have checked into our hotel, hurriedly changed into our swimsuits, grabbed a towel, sunscreen, and book, searched out a quiet spot on the beach and settled in for a few hours, that the contrast between our manic northern lifestyle and this sublime relaxation provokes a disturbing sense of anxiety. “What am I going to do for the next few days? Surely not lay about on this beach the whole time!”

For many southern holiday spots, the range of non-beach related activities are few and far between. Luckily in Crete, this is not the case. Uniquely among the Greek Isles, Crete is large enough to encompass a range of climates from sandy beach to the high rocky mountain top. In between lie all manner of activities from hiking to agro-tourism to the exploration of historical ruins to arts and crafts activities.

On our trip to Crete, staying near the city of Chania at Ammos Hotel, we found ourselves ready for a beach break and asked our knowledgeable host, Owner, Nikos Tsepetis what he could suggest in the way of local activities. Without hesitation, Nikos got on the phone and booked us a studio visit with Manousos Chalkiadakis a ceramic artist and painter.

Manousos was born in Chania, Crete in 1948, he studied Economics at the Aristotelean University of Thessaloniki and worked as an accountant in Athens for many years. Yearning to pursue his artistic talents he decided to get a fresh start and moved back home to Chania in 1978. He has worked as an artist ever since, creating paintings, sculptures, pottery, and ceramic art.

His home and studio are in the small village of Paidochori in Chania, situated at the foot of the “Lefka Ori” (White Mountains). In these lovely surroundings, Manousos restored an 18th-century Venetian house to its old glory and shares his talents with interested visitors offering a glimpse into the Cretan lifestyle, hidden from view for most tourists. Here you can visit and watch Manousos transform clay into beautiful vases, dishes, and objects.

Manousos uses two techniques: Objects are fired for the first time without glaze at 1000 degrees Celcius and for the second time at 1200 degrees, after having been enameled. The second technique, by using oxides of different metals (iron, cobalt, copper), he is able to create the distinct range of colors that characterize his work.

The small studio was built in keeping with the traditional style of the main house and is the perfect setting for his unique ceramic works. Over the last few years, it has also become a learning workshop for people interested in the ceramic arts and offers you the opportunity to explore your own artistic talent while on holiday.

What you can expect: The village of Paidochori lies between the cities of Chania and Rethymnon and is approximately 30 minutes from each city. Arrive at 10:00 for coffee and breakfast, learn about the history of ceramic art, and get a demonstration of how Manousous works with clay. It’s lovely to take a break under his amazing old grapevine covered pergola and while sampling some of the local delicacies before getting back to work.

Your ceramic masterpiece will need a few days to dry and then be fired so you should arrange this activity early on in your visit. You can collect your piece of art, or you can have it delivered to you. What better souvenir to bring home, the one you created yourself!

Details

To inquire about availability, pricing and to make a reservation, contact Manousos Chalkiadakis
 Ceramics/Seminars at; 
tel: +30 28250 71181 or +30 6945 935225,
 email: info@greekceramics.gr or 
website: www.greekceramics.gr. Manousos gives private lessons throughout the year to individualls or small groups to help you master the ceramic arts.


Photography and story by Daniela Stallinger

Planning a trip to Crete? Here is the current weather and what to expect for the next few days.

63°
clear sky
72% humidity
wind: 8m/s S
H 68 • L 61
70°
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74°
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70°
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70°
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71°
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