Rescuing an MCM Italian Pottery Bowl

I was wandering around my neighborhood thrift store the other morning after my post office run and not feeling too hopeful. The few things I was mildly interested in were too pricey for me to resell. Sometimes it’s like that. I walked down the ceramics aisle for the third time, shaking my head a bit as I went but still looking. I grimaced a bit at this plastic flower nonsense on the top shelf, but, hold the phone…what’s that underneath that mess? Looked mid-century modern Italian to me!

I didn’t get a photo in the store, but here it is on my mantel.

I flipped it over and peeled back the decaying felt bottom (not original to the piece) and by golly it was! This was a piece worth rescuing!

But the flowers and leaves were firmly stuck in the cement-like florist foam. Would I be able to dissolve this stuff? Hmmmm.

Back at home I soaked the whole thing in a bucket of warm water for 10 minutes and was able to pull out the flowers, but even after poking it with a knife for awhile there was still a thick layer of hard foam and underneath that clay. Ick.

What a mess! All this to hold some plastic flowers and leaves in place.

After an hour or so of soaking, scraping and rinsing I finally I got smart and googled how to remove the remaining florist’s foam that was stuck to the sides. Turns out nail polish remover does the trick! A few soaked cotton balls later and the foam was sliding off.

Eureka!! It’s free. (Little happy dance ensues.)

Was it worth all the effort? Absolutely. Now this little Italian abstract, lava glaze bowl can be the center of attention. While I can’t positively attribute it to Bitossi, Fratelli, Netter or any of the other fabulous Italian pottery designers of that era, it is certainly a piece from that time. Likely late 1950s/early 1960s.

In general I try not to buy things that will be “projects” and require a lot of elbow grease, but I’m glad I did this one. It’s charming and cool at the same time!

Would love to hear about your projects–the things you’ve bought that need a bit of TLC before you can sell them.

From smoky California, wishing you happy hunting,



  1. Great Job in cleaning that bowl !! It’s a beautiful piece. Sometimes the beauty is found at the end of the rainbow, you found it!! :))

    Liked by 2 people

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