Polish Stoneware Designs | Patterns | Classifications


Welcome to Polish Pottery and Polish Stoneware Artisans, techniques, and how to classify each design series

by Twila Abrams - Pottery Avenue


Skilled artisans have migrated to the tranquil village of Boleslawiec for centuries.  Located on a major European trade route, the village was a favored trading and resting place for travelers.  The influence of those exchanges are still seen today not only in museums but also in the culture of Boleslawiec and the rich traditions of the Pottery community.


  Boleslawiec Poland   


   Polish Pottery Designs & Classifications

There are two styles of design application and four skill level classifications. The original design known as the Peacock's Eye, or Eye of the Peacock, is produced in deep cobalt tones on a white background with bold primary colors like green, brown, or red for detailing.  The Eye of the Peacock design is timeless and still popular after 300 years in circulation and is painted in the century old technique called "hand stamped".  This is the first design application method and begining artisans focus on mastering these classic patterns befor progressing to the next level.  This group of patterns is reffered to as "Classic" "Higher Standard" or "A" patterns and are painted by begining skill level artisans of "Boleslawiec".

 

The next design level is refered to as "Subtle" or "DU" patterns which take a modern twist on the folk art look.  The variety of colors and stamps indicate the skill level of the artisan is an "Aprentice" working with a "Master" to hone in on skills and technique before advancing to the UNIKAT level.  Designs are applied with the century old technique "hand stamp" as with the classic designs.  

 

UNIKAT designs are painted by Master Artisans of Zaklady Ceramics Boleslawiec with stamps and brushes.  Breaking from the traditional hand stamp technique, these artisans employ the use of brushes to add depth and a "real life" impression of the inspiration and allows the expansion of design and character which transcends tradition in a way that gives respect and homage to the original developers.  Each pattern in the UNIKAT series is only painted by Master Artisans and lovingly signed on the bottom and branded UNIKAT with a rubber stamp.

 

The final series of patterns is called EX UNIKAT and are painted by the most elite Artisans.  These patterns are highly decorated with extra detail and predominantly painted with brushes.  The Master Artisan used the creamy white pottery as a tapestry to portray their inner artist world transcending the spoken word and communicating through the hand, eye and heart. More skill equals more compensation thus the EX edition is geared to the collector and the focus is placed more on the art component than the function of the dish.  These patterns inspire and enrich your life to touch you in a way only fine art can.

 

Although the designs vary from the CLASSIC to EX UNIKAT, the color pallet remains the same thus allowing collectors of Polish Stoneware to display their own personal style by mixing and matching patterns for an eclectic style that evolves with them over a life time. As with all handmade and hand-painted items no two pieces are identical. Variations in color, pattern and shape make each piece an individual work of art embodying a more soulful dish and thoughtful gift.

 

We hope that each collector old and new alike continues to enjoy the collections brought to you by Pottery Avenue by Pangaea Trade, Inc.  It has been our endeavor for the last 11 years to bring to you only the finish Polish Stoneware in varieties and meaningful patterns and utilitarian shapes.  It is our pleasure to be a part of keeping this folk art alive and the tradition of this village expanding.  Bringing to you, with each piece, joy, beauty and the fascination of the meaning of functioning art!

(I added: Trade, Inc on the second line and am not sure if you want it there or not. I also took out a comma farther down in the paragraph.)

  • Classic patterns will be marked with a stamp that states “hand made in Poland” encircled by an oval line and the code of arms of the village.
  • Traditional patterns are a little more colorful and more technically difficult.  These patterns have the same stamp as the classic patterns described above.
  • Modern patterns, also referred to as DU, will show a castle stamp with the words “hand made in Poland” and the artist will have initialed the piece.
  • Unikat patterns, also referred to as ART or signature series are designs created and painted by master artists. These artists have met specialized criteria after years of service and now have the title of “Master”. The master artist signs his or her name on the bottom of the piece as well as a serial number that describes the shape and the pattern.
  • The blue sticker indicates that it is a first (top quality), as well as lists its UPC code, shape and pattern numbers.
  • The small, white sticker indicates that it was factory inspected.  

 

Why do some pieces end up in discount stores?

Some factories export directly to a big box discount store.  Z.C. Boleslawiec does supply some items they consider throw away pieces. It is evident in the painted quality and shows a  lack of definition from a beginner’s hand.

 

  • Clay is extracted from a natural resource in Poland.  This clay was a manifestation of unique geological events millions of years ago.  The clay is unique and the foundation for the durability factor.
  • Some shapes are hand thrown; all other pieces are cast from gypsum molds.
  • Once removed from the mold the vessels are put through a bisque fire.
  • Once the low firing is complete, designs are stamped with hand carved natural sea sponges.  Some patterns are complemented with various size paint brushes
  • Stamps and glaze colors are mixed and created on site. Lead and Cadmium free paints and glazes are used
  • After stamping the design, pieces are dipped into a patented formalizable glaze that make each piece none porous and even more durable.  It is equivalent to liquid glass giving a timely shine to the pottery.
  • Pieces are high-fired at over 2000º F locking the unappalled durability.
  • Finished articles are inspected for quality control.  The criteria for quality control is set by the factory and a published document.  The criteria allows for minor anomalies that accompany hand made products to pass for first quality.
  • First quality articles are then made ready for Pottery Avenue and all items not passing inspection remain in the factory outlet stores in Poland or sold to other importers.

he artists of the Signature Line or Unikat, are the most highly accomplished and earn the privilege of creating their own work from start to finish. Their pieces are hand-signed and designated as "Unikat," which simply means "unique." Because of the time and artistic talent required for these pieces, they are rare and command higher prices. Although the designs vary from the traditional to Unikat, the basic colors remain the same. This allows collectors of the stoneware to display their own personal style by mixing and matching patterns for an eclectic look.