Even if your interest in china is somewhat limited and you don’t know the difference between a terrine and a tureen, you will enjoy the Cerâmica Vieira museum/factory/shop, a place where time has stopped and ceramics are made like in the old days. “They are all made by hand, and for this reason they are more rustic, with a few imperfections. This is what makes them special,” Teresa Vieira, the business’s fifth-generation owner and manager, tells us.
The story started in 1892 when Bernadino da Silva, a manufacturer from Gaia, landed on the island to open a glassware factory, using a mixture of clays from the neighbouring island of Santa Maria and from the continent. It is this clay that is still used to make and mould today’s ceramics. “We now have capacity to make 150 candle holders or 200 mugs a day,” says one of the employees working in the “Sala da Olaria” (pottery room), one of the many parts of Cerâmica Vieira where it is possible to observe the manufacturing process. Lagoa china, as it is also known, stands out for its blue-on-white patterns. The colour, a pink tint that only turns blue after going into the oven, is a combination of pigments made on site. How? “It’s a secret,” warns Teresa Vieira. By the way, a terrine and a tureen are the same thing.