Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Polish Pottery Trip

 As I mentioned when I stopped in Dresden, CLO had planned a Polish pottery trip to Bolesławiec, Poland. 

Bolesławiec is in south western Poland and is called the "Miasto Ceramiki (Town of Ceramics). If you own any Polish pottery, it likely came from here. The traffic circles in town have oversized pottery decorating them! It is a little over 6 hours to drive from Frankfurt to Bolesławiec (and to help orient you if continued east another 5 hours you would be in Warsaw). Once we crossed the Germany/Poland border we were nearly there!

Lots of artistic uses of pottery around town! Upon arrival, we drove through town and stayed nearby in Łaziska at the Blue Beetroot Hotel

The hotel is an old renovated barn with nice, cozy rooms and a restaurant downstairs. It was very convenient to eat breakfast and dinner there each day.

The hotel also provides guests with a map/guide to all the pottery shops in town (here's the'll have to stay with them to get the names to all the stores that match the They also provided us with %off coupons to a couple of the shops!!

As you can see, we had a lot of shopping to do. The first morning, we had a tour booked at Manufaktura (#13 on the map). We toured the factory to see the pottery making process, painted our own pottery, and then shopped!

Our first stop was watching the clay be worked and placed in the molds and set aside to dry. The guide requested we not take any photos of employees. We then walked past racks and racks of dried pottery.

The pottery is surprisingly fragile at this point in the process. They had a bin of 'oops' and we were allowed to break them further. Luckily, they will grind the pieces down and reconstitute them into clay and reuse. After the pottery dries, it will be fired. Then it has to cool completely before going on to be painted.

The painting portion was so mesmerizing! The artists train for like 6-9 months solid and learn an insane number of patterns (like 800).

The artists at this shop worked on a commission basis. Each pattern had a rate and each piece had a rate. They have a minimum they have to produce each week.

I can only imagine how they learn to keep their hands steady to to keep the lines so straight and evenly spaced!

Most of the patterns have stamps, so then it is matter of mastering the correct amount of paint and the correct pressure (that's where I messed up on the piece I did!). Pottery is graded from Q1 (perfect pattern and perfect quality (no cracks - so oven and dishwasher safe)) to Q5 (stray brush stroke/imperfect pattern and/or a crack or bubble in the glaze - so decoration only).

Are you wondering why none of the pieces they were painting that day had the iconic cobalt blue color? All the paint colors we used, stayed that basic color once fired....EXCEPT the purple, which turns to the cobalt blue color when fired!

OMG - this fish was so cute, but I didn't find any finished ones. :(

Once painted, the pieces are dipped in the glaze (so the mugs you see are painted and glazed) before being placed in the oven to be fired the second time.

Racks of cooling pottery! During the final firing, it takes 8 hours for it to cool down enough for the racks to be even moved to finish cooling.

Seasonal pottery ready for the shop.

After our tour, it was our turn to try out the stamping/painting of our own pieces. Before/After. Definately not perfect.....maybe Q7??

Basket of stamps to choose from. So many options! Small bowls of paint.

A few weeks later this is what I got (my really bad stamps are on the backside)!

After all that hard work painting and shopping, it was time for lunch!! We headed to this cute little restaurant called Opałkowa Chata. I mean check out the giant sugar bowl in front!

And I got a plate of pierogi z owocami (filled with fruit)!! My ancestors would be proud.

After lunch, we were within walking distance of the traffic circle that is surrounded by pottery shops. So we had several hours to shop and check out all those shops. I got several treasures along the way. Pro Tip - Bring a shopping bag! Most shops wrap things up in paper and then hand it to you. I didn't bring my purse that normally has my shopping bags tucked in a pocket. Luckily, I had brought a decent sized tote bag with my camera and water. So I carried the camera and used that bag. 

After our allotted time in that area, we met back at the bus and headed to Andy's (#1 on the map). This place was huge and had nearly overwhelming variety.....

Each one of those stacks of plates....each plate is a different pattern!! So much variety, so you would have to dig through them to find "the one". I got a nice platter here and while I was going through the stack someone else stood nearby and after I passed one up, she said let me see that one.

Even got ideas for the forever home (pottery sink bowl, not 4 sinks in my The next morning, we headed to a tiny mom and pop shop called Millena (#4 on the map). The artists painting station was in the middle of the shop and they fired it to the side. They had some of the most unique items and patterns I saw (I got my vase there). We did one last stop at Manufacture to get some last items, grabbed some lunch, and then headed back to Frankfurt. Here is all the treasures I picked up. I ended up with a box and large bag, so not too over the top. The blades on top of the helicopter actually spin! That was a gift for my helicopter and plane flying brother (and nephew).

The holiday items looked great when lit up with colored LED candles!

It was a great trip and after getting back home and doing some thinking, I have discovered that my everyday dishware needs to be Polish pottery. Richard and the kids have no complaints. So another trip is in the works. We've decided we will get several patterns. That way the kids can take some as they empty the nest and we will have some replacements for when something inevitably breaks.

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