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Russian Tradition of Pottery Craft, Part 2
May 25, 2015 15:37

Old Russian earthenware was not particularly beautiful but was very convenient and cheap. Potters made simple subjects required in country life: pots, vessels for milk and sour cream, large pots for pitch, bowls, flat dishes, plates, measuring pots, and washstands. Local red clay served as the main material for their manufacture.

In regards to peculiar ways of processing the outer surface there were four different types of pottery: black, boiled, glazed and coated.

Lacquered ware was in the greatest demand among the population. The effect of lacquered surface was reached by two methods, namely glazing and coating.

For getting coated ware of various colors the master used metal powders and sawdust: lead and copper scale for red color, lead on a white clay surface for white color, and copper scale for green. These powders were filled on the clay surface, which was dried up and coated with tar prior to baking.


For attaining the glazed shiny effect of earthenware the potters used strong salt solution before baking. Coating was attained by putting hot baked ware into fermented mix of rye flour and chalk or beer yeast. The baked flour created beautiful designs of free flows, spots, bubbles, and above all it made the ceramic vessels stronger.

At last, potters could attain black smoked surface by baking earthenware in smoking flame.

The manufacturing technique of potter's ware had several stages. Initially clay was carefully selected and prepared. Clay was cleaned of impurities, moistened with water and kneaded with feet and hands in a trough. Afterwards it was shaped and decorated on a potter's wheel, and then dried and baked right in the Russian stove in one’s house or in a special horn outdoors. All sorts of ornamentation increased the cost of products for sale.

Unfortunately, the Russian craft of pottery was nearly lost in oblivion. Life changes and disappearance of the centuries-old way of traditional country life in the early 20th century became the reason for that.

In the 1930s artels of potters were founded in some regions of Russia, but they could not change the situation to the betters and the trade kept on dying away.

Fortunately, the 1990s saw a new interest in the ancient trade of pottery and its revival in Russia.





Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Folk Arts Arts and Crafts Pottery   

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