History of Boleslawiec Ceramics
Ceramics has been a part of Bolesławiec and the entire region’s history for centuries.
Archaeological digs have shown pottery and ceramics from the early Middle Ages, and trading patterns strongly indicate their presence at such an early time. The first mention of a potter from Boleslawiec was recorded in the late 14th century.
The Town Hall of Bolesławiec after the drawning of F.B. Werner from 1745
At the beginning of 17th century Potters from the Bolesławiec area united into guilds. The first pottery from the region were wheel made pitchers and jug type vessels with characteristic brown glaze. Many of them were marked with a date and individual’s initials. The first decorative motives were introduces in the middle of 18th century in the form of floral motives, usually white sticks, flowers or leaves.
Pitchers with lids and Adam and Eve figures detail - the second half of 18th century
Throughout the late 18th and early 19th century, other decorative motives included heraldic signs and nature themes like florals and birds as well as the Boleslawiec emblems or the potter’s emblem of Adam and Eve. The most common shapes produced at that time were pitchers, mugs, and tankards.
Potters in a Boleslawiec workshop, late 19th century
In 1897, the Vocational School of Pottery was established and stimulated further development of the trade. The school was staffed with the most outstanding teachers, artists and designers. They developed not only successive generations of ceramists but also worked out new technologies of making ceramics in moulds by using stoneware clay.
At that time, locally sourced white clay was introduced to the pottery production. This type of clay allowed the dishes to be cast rather than thrown on the wheel. Furthermore, the use of a new type of lead-free glaze enabled a new decorative method with the use of stamps. This improvement allowed for new motifs and designs to be introduced to the process. Thanks to these innovations the local stoneware trade made a tremendous technological leap. During that time, the craftsmen propagated new shapes and patterns, like the repeating circles, flowers, dots, and clovers, which are still recognizable designs today.
White Clay pitchers decorated by stamps, turn of 20th century
At the beginning of 20th century, thanks to the school and technological development of pottery trade several pottery manufactories were funded, such as Reinhold & Co., Julius Paul & Sohn or Werner & Co, and their products became famous and valued not only in Europe but also on other continents.
Ceramics market in Boleslawiec early 20th century
After, the Second World War Zaklady Ceramiczne ‘Boleslawiec’ and several other local manufactures rebuilt the industry and continue the great tradition of Boleslawiec stoneware.
Sources: Zaklady Ceramiczne ‘Boleslawiec’, Museum of Ceramics in Boleslawiec, Wikipedia, Original Bunzlau - Sammlermagazin