Last week we shared how our Stone Creek Trading crocks are made (see our blog post here if you missed it) and promised to give you more detail about the painting process this week. Our Polish Decorated crocks (made by both Boleslawiec and Stone Creek Trading), are all hand painted using traditional Polish techniques.
When we visited the ceramics studio that makes our Stone Creek Trading Crocks, we met the two artisans that hand paint all of their products. In order to show us the methods they use, they taught our daughters how to make their own ceramic designs!
At the time we visited our daughters were 6 and 11 years old. Despite a language difference (the artisans only spoke Polish, and while our daughters understand some Polish, they primarily speak English), the artisans were able to teach the girls the traditional methods. Of course, Kryz also helped with translating as he is fluent in both Polish and English!
This is one of the artisan's workstations, where our younger daughter worked on her items. You can see the plate she is stamping, a container filled with sponge stamps on the left, various paint brushes, some items waiting to be painted on the shelf, and various glaze colors in plastic containers on the right. Each of the girls made one plate and one mug while we toured the facility!
The first step is to choose a stamp. These are each cut out of sponge by the artisan to make various shapes. This artisan's box contained around 30 different shapes that she had created. They can combine the different shapes to create unique patterns on the ceramics.
Each stamp is dipped into one color of glaze, then tapped on the lid of the container to ensure the correct amount of glaze is on the stamp. When wet, the glaze colors appear to be pastel. However, once the ceramics are fired they transform to the traditional colors we recognize!
When the ceramics are being painted, they have not yet been fired. The clay has been dried for several days making it hold the shape, but it still could be deformed if they are handled while painting.
In order to be able to move the ceramics around to paint all the sides, the artisans use a rotating pedestal. You keep one hand on the bottom to rotate your piece as you paint!
To create the intricate designs everyone recognizes are Polish pottery, you start with a simple repeating design. Here our older daughter started by stamping a ring of red flower shapes around the outside of her plate.
She added blue circles to the middle of the initial red flowers using a different stamp. She continued to add more flowers and shapes in different colors around the plate until it was full! While blue is the most recognized color of Polish pottery, reds, yellows and greens are often used as highlights!
And here are the finished pieces! The ceramics studio fired their plates and mugs after we left and included them in our next order. You can see how the colors darken when fired versus when they were first painted!
These are of course the girls favorite plates and mugs and they use them regularly now. This was such a special experience for all of us and something will will remember forever!