Spend time with Fabian Pesci and the world will seem topsy-turvy. A lanai is a potter’s den. A home garage is a studio. A bathmat is a source for art design. And a wedding dress—that’s a lovely garment on the verge of being partially enmeshed in clay weeks before it’s ever worn.
By day, Pesci is a home organizer who puts objects in logical places. Evenings and weekends, the fast-talking, joyous entrepreneur is an artist who topples the expected order of things. He makes ceramic cooking and serving dishes in his northern Orlando home using a nearly comical collection of items designed for other purposes.
You’ll see Pesci’s goods under the banner FABU Pottery at the Winter Garden and Lake Eola farmers’ markets and at local art festivals. You’ll spot them in area eateries, such as Swine & Sons, which uses several custom pieces to display baked goods. And you’ll see the colorful dishware frequently in home kitchens.
Often those platters, plates and casserole pans are personalized. “Let me cook with my wedding dress,” his customers will say. That’s because Pesci will take the dress, press the lace design into clay, and then etch the wedding date in before glazing and baking the cookware. (He easily cleans off the clay residue before returning the garment.) Many customers ask him to use family-heirloom doilies the same way.
Pesci moved to Orlando from Argentina in 1998 and developed his home-organizing enterprise. Over time, the enthusiastic 43-year-old took pottery classes, including one where he learned to use doilies to imprint designs into clay. Soon the passionate potter was making so many pieces that the owner of the hobby shop where he baked his items urged him to buy his own kiln.
And that doily idea spawned other ideas. Today, Pesci’s home studio drawers are filled with dozens of doilies (700 at last count), bathmats, welcome mats (“I have 40!”), stencils, holiday decorations and even rubber gadgets designed for a bakery’s cake sugar molds. Big Lots, Michael’s, antiques stores and Home Depot are to Pesci what Marché International de Rungis is to chefs.
Despite the creativity, his process is straightforward. In his garage studio, Pesci rolls clay flat using a special machine. Then he rolls it again, this time imprinting the design of his choice. He often uses a different pattern, such as flowers, for the underside. He then shapes the clay and bakes it for 12 hours at 1,900°F in one of the kilns on his lanai. He glazes it with a special four-powder, lead-free recipe he learned from fellow potters, then bakes it for another 12 hours at 2,255°F. This process makes the items oven-, microwave- and dishwasher-friendly. Pesci cools the creations on professional bakery racks.
His wares come in a variety of colors, from a rich blue to an earthy brown and a cheerful pink. He’ll make custom shapes, such as a pig-shaped platter now used daily at Swine & Sons.
“This never gets boring,” says Pesci, visibly gleeful while giving a tour of his working space and latest inventory. “I’m so excited. I can’t tell you how happy I am. I have a blast.”