Ceramics has accompanied man since the dawn of time. Handed down from generation to generation, this technique is being reborn today in the form of small workshops that are willing to share their experience. It is worth getting to know them better and meeting real masters – enthusiasts in action.
Decorative plates, unique cups or elegant platters – when using them every day, you do not always realize how much work has been done to make them. Meanwhile, the first stage of their production begins with finding and extracting the right clay. Before the dish reaches your table, many hours of work, precision and patience are needed.
Projectorium artistic ceramics studio is located at Górników 25 Street, in the historic water tower at the Jerzmanowski Palace in Prokocium. You can reach this green area in less than a quarter of an hour by tram from the centre of Kraków. Kamila Bilik-Majerczak, the founder of the studio, graduated in interior design from one of the universities in Kraków. Motivated by the will to develop creatively, her adventure with ceramics began with workshops. Today, she is happy to show guests around her studio – it is worth going there to listen to the history of your favourite product over a cup of coffee or tea. Projectorium’s assortment includes both single vessels and complete sets. Decorative bowls made of stoneware and glass are especially amazing. You can see how Projectorium plates are used in practice during a meal in Krakow’s restaurants: Biała Róża and Euskadi, the latter of which specializes in Basque cuisine.
Memory and tradition
The Pottery Ecomuseum in Regulice cultivates the memory of the disappearing traditions of pottery, which had been developing in these areas since the 16th century. During your visit to the museum, take a closer look at the tools used by the creators, such as a potter’s wheel, rib tools (metal plates) used to make decorations, or quern stone for grinding into glass. In addition to the permanent exhibition, the Ecomuseum also offers pottery and sculpture workshops. A visit to this area should be combined with a railway bike trip. The route, with the first station in Regulice, is six kilometres long. The attraction is very popular – make sure to book online before arriving at the place.
Joanna Mika-Żarów creates her wonderful works in Wadowice, at Batorego 6. The artist jokes that art flows in her blood: her father, Jerzy Mika, is a well-known potter from Wadowice, who took over the pottery workshop from his father-in-law, Jan Chmiel. The beginnings were not easy. In the past, maintaining the right temperature in a wood-fired clay kiln was a challenge. Controlling the fire required constant and careful presence in the workshop while the clay was being kilned. Today, when electric kilns with automatic temperature control are used, work is much faster and fewer products are damaged. Jerzy Mika obtains clay himself – he takes it straight from the ground and knows well where to find the best raw material. He makes the dishes on a potter’s wheel, and decorates the finished products with hand-coloured glaze or white clay.
he father and daughter’s ceraMikowa studio organizes individual workshops and sells unique products – ceramic filters for brewing coffee are a nice curiosity. You can also buy clay baking molds. Moreover, the upcoming autumn will be illuminated by ceramic lanterns and clay candlesticks. It is worth emphasizing that this family workshop was placed on the Małopolska Craft Trail, which presents contemporary folk artists.
It is not easy to find Dorota Kouba’s studio in Płaza – it is worth using the geographic coordinates provided at facebook.com/KoubaCeramics. There, you will also find the schedule and type of workshops – some of them take place in the so-called Czuła Stodoła, a unique, over 100-year-old building. The artist’s works – pots, bowls, plates and mugs – are as unique as the surroundings in which they are made. You can see the inspiration of nature in them – the ceramics are raw, with a rough texture, in earth, beige and grey tones. The creative process requires effort and time – it begins with kneading the clay and shaping it out on an electric potter’s wheel. Then, the time comes for decorating techniques such as processing and forming the annular base. The formed vessel must be dried – the clay is fired at a temperature of about 900 degrees Celsius. The first pottery kilning process is known as bisque. The next step is to glaze the vessel and kiln it again at a higher temperature, i.e. around 1000-1200 degrees Celsius.
Live and create close to nature
Jurek Szczepowski’s art studio is an extraordinary place. Situated in the former Lemko village of Czarne, in the Low Beskids, it attracts people who are eager to experience art and nature. Items are formed on a potter’s wheel and then fired in a wood-fired oven. Beginners can easily take part in the workshop. You can choose from a weekend, eight- and fourteen-day training. Worth trying is the classes on the raku technique originating from Japan, during which objects are burned in an open space. Jurek Szczepkowski emphasizes that Czarne is practically cut off from the rest of the world – there is no television or Internet at home, and it is difficult to get telephone reception. Such an escape from the everyday hustle and bustle of information fosters concentration, learning mindfulness and releases creative energy.