Polish pottery – beyond Bolesławiec

Polish pottery

Polish pottery is known all over the world. In a lot of households in Europe or the USA you will find ceramic from Bolesławiec. Beyond the famous Bolesławiec, the pottery regions of Medynia Głogowska, and Chałupki are known pottery centres.

Polish pottery tradition

Rich deposits of clay and the lack of favourable conditions for agriculture made a lot of people in Poland look for a living outside agriculture. Some of the historic potteries survived and some new arised. All over Poland, where clay is available, you will find smaller potteries, just look for the sign „garncarnstwo”.

Pottery Centre in Medynia Głogowska

Once the largest Polish pottery centre was located in south-eastern Poland in the municipality of Czarna, in the district of Łańcut. In the second half of the 19th century about 120 potter’s workshops were active here. Since the 60s of the 20th century, Medynia Głogowska has been a folk crafts centre known all over the world. These tradition is still alive today. You can see and buy ceramics the Pottery Centre (Zagroda Garncarska)  located  in a beautiful 19th-century wooden building in Medynia Głogowska. You can visit an exposition of pottery and clay sculptures from the early 20th century and In the small shop you can buy souvenirs and crafts.

Figures made by local artists

In this tiny village lives the famous ceramic artist Władysława Prucnal whose work can be found in ethnographic museums in Poland and in galleries around the world, among others in Australia, Japan, and the USA. In the artist’s gallery you can see a rich collection of Władysława Prucnal’s work. These are figures, bas-reliefs and mosaics depicting the life of the inhabitants of the ancient village of Medynia Głogłowska. A significant part of the work of the artist is also dedicated to religion. In the Church of the Visitation of the Holy Virgin Mary in Medynia Głogowska you can admire its beautiful ceramic mosaics made by local potters like Władysława Prucnal.

Władysława Prucnal’s work

Visit the Pottery Fair

At the Pottery Fair in Medynia Głogowska – held every year at the beginning of July – you can learn about ceramics and crafts from all over the region. You can watch demonstrations how to throw a clay pot on a potter’s wheel and how to bake vessels in a kiln. You can also take part in workshops, enjoy folk concerts, or sample regional cuisine. The competition “Our Culinary Heritage” is held during the Pottery Fair.

Try taste regional dishes made and served in traditional clay pots in the Potter’s Inn (Karczma u Garncarzy) in the Pottery Centre in Medynia Głogowska.

Borsch – Polish red beet soup (barszcz) in a clay pot.

Pottery bike trail

Explore the area around Medynia by bike, following the 30 km long pottery trail. Bikes for rent are next to the Pottery centre in the bicycle rental “Siwak”.

A fine collection of clay vases

On the route you have the opportunity to explore traditional art studios, where you can meet the potters at work: pending the wheel, drying or heating pots in kilns. You can also see different types of firing “bisque” (red ceramics) or “gray” (grey or black). You can buy pottery “fresh from the kiln”. It is also possible to make an appointment with a potter for a guided tour in the pottery (phone: +48 17 226 2323, or e-mail: biuro@gok-czarna.pl).

Free-standing big kilns, that you will meet on the bike trail, will impress you. You can visit a historic cemetery with characteristic tombstones and you will encounter many roadside shrines. Take a break in the Park of Our Lady Jagodna in Medynia Łańcucka near the pond with beautiful lilies and drink water from the nearby spring. In the chapel you will find a ceramic statue of Our Lady Jagodna, the patron of Medynia, made by the local artist Władysława Prucnal.

Pottery and ceramics from Bolesławiec

In Lower Silesia is the largest existing manufacturing centre of hand-crafted and hand-decorated tableware pottery – Bolesławiec (German: Bunzlau). Before 1945 the city belonged to Germany. In the charming fortified town of Boleslawiec there are over twenty ceramic manufacturing plants – from small family companies to big factories, such as the “Boleslawiec” Pottery Plant, one of the biggest manufacturers of hand-made pottery. Pots are made from local clay that fires white. Ceramics are decorated by hand, using the unique stamping technique. The main colour is the typical “Bolesławiec blue”. Bolesławiec ceramic is the most famous Polish pottery. In many German films you will notice ceramic from Bolesławiec.

Perhaps Europe’s biggest pottery and ceramics street fair, takes place every august in Bolesławiec. You will meet people and artists from the whole world. Enjoy five days of music, dance, folklore and ceramic artist’s shows. Here you can also taste regional food or try your hand on the potter’s wheel and decorate your own ceramic. A tour to the famous ceramic factory and the gallery of ceramic sculptures is free during the fair.

Visit the local ceramics museum.

Kashubia: hills, lakes and pottery

In the lovely Kashubian land (northern Poland) you can spot many family potteries. One of them is the pottery of the Necel family in the village of Chmielno. They produce vessels and stove tiles in white, yellow, green, brown and deep blue colours, all decorated with unique ornamentation: lilac twigs, tulips, the Kashubian star, fish scales, Kashubian garlands, and lilies.

If you visit Necel Kashubian Ceramics Museum in Chmielno you can see beautiful Kashubian ceramics. The process of creating vessels from clay is also shown in this special museum. There is a huge kiln in which vessels are fired. If you want you can also try your own skills in forming pots on the potter’s wheel.

Chalupki – century-old pottery tradition

Chałupki is a small village located just 18 km south of Kielce, south-central Poland. This tiny village is famous not only in Poland but also across Europe for it’s century-old tradition of pottery. Chalupki is one of the most interesting pottery centers in Poland. First potteries have been founded in the 16th century, but not as earlier as in the 19th century it started blooming. In the year 1935 there were as many as 69 potter’s workshops. Pottery skills were handed down from generation to generation. Usually whole families were engaged in this extremely rare craft.

Many clay vessels and figures have been collected in musea. Not only in Poland (Museum of Ethnography in Kraków, Toruń, Warsaw, the National Museum in Kielce and Kielce Village Museum) but also in  musea in other countries.

The exhibition in the Center of Pottery Tradition in Chałupki shows the history of folk pottery in Chałupki. You can see pottery ware, but also artistic ceramics. Jozef Gluszek a member of a local pottery family shows in this living museum how ceramics are produced.

Pottery in traditional Polish cottages

Clay pots in a traditional Polish cottage kitchen

Workshops on Polish pottery

In most pottery centres  you can learn to work with a potter’s wheel and to make clay sculptures. In workshops you can learn about local traditions as well as the manufacturing of musical instruments or ceramic jewelry. And above all: working with and throwing clay at the potter’s wheel let you forget everyday life. Insiders claim that pasting pots has beneficial therapeutic properties: it calms, regenerates the psyche and reduces stress.

Potter at work in Medynia Głogowska

Potter at work in Medynia Głogowska

Dishes from the clay pot – worth trying

In earthen ware, you can bake meat, fish, vegetables, casseroles, cakes, tarts, bread, or rolls. Dishes prepared in clay pots retain the right moisture and there is no need to use a large amount of fat. Light digestibility and a lower calorific value of food has a direct impact on the quality of our well-being. Natural fat from the meat or vegetable juice, are guarantor for better taste and nutritional value. This dish keeps warm for many hours. You can try for exemple traditional dishes from the Łańcut region in south-eastern Poland in the Potter’s Inn  in Medynia Głogowska.

A dish prepared a Medynia clay pot

A dish prepared a Medynia clay pot

So, when you go to Poland why not take a hand made original souvenir from a pottery centre, either from a factory shop or, more idyllic, fresh from the kiln.


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