Tag Archives: Polish stoneware

Hisotry of Boleslawiec Polish Pottery

The History of Boleslawiec Polish Pottery and Stoneware

Courtesy of http://www.artisanimports.com

Courtesy of http://www.artisanimports.com

If you have ever wondered about how the famed town of Boleslawiec began producing the exquisite Polish Pottery of today, you need to start several thousand ago. The remarkable pottery created by artisans in Boleslawiec has roots dating back to at least 6,000 B.C. The story of Boleslawiec Polish Pottery is both an interesting and triumphant one.  The potters of this town and region have had to overcome immense setbacks, but they have always prevailed and exist as one of the most famous producers of pottery in the world.


Stroke-Ornamented Ware Culture 

History of Boleslawiec Polish Pottery

Stroke Ornamented Ware Culture


 Archaeologists have found evidence of earlier cultures settled in this area, cultures such as the Linear Band Ware Culture, but we will begin with the Stoke-Ornamented Ware Culture, (also called Stichbandkeramik in German, or STK for short). Pottery found from this culture dates back over 7,000 years. Though they were spread throughout Germany, Poland, Austria, and the Czech Republic, STK culture was centered within the Silesia Region in Poland (just like Boleslawiec!). STK earned its name from the German archaeologists studying their pottery. These vessels were generally pear shaped with a large band around the top of the vessel. The name derives from the strokes used to decorate the pots.  The strokes were used to form a pattern of contiguous A’s around the vessel. Evidence also shows that the pottery from this region was more advanced than nearby cultures of the time. Additionally, the surfaces of these vessels were shiny, indicating that they may have been using some type of glaze on these pots when they were fired.

The structure found at Gosek.

The structure found at Gosek.

A really interesting side note about the STK culture is that there was a structure found at Gosek (located south of Berlin) that could be described as a wooden version of Stonehenge. It was likely used to observe the course of the sun in order to calculate a lunar calendar. Evidence of fire, human and animal remains as well as a decapitated skeleton can be found at this structure suggesting sacrifices (both human and animal) may have taken place here!


Corded Ware Culture

The Hisotry of Boleslawiec Polish Pottery

Corded Ware Culture

Following the STK culture was the Corded Ware Culture living from around 3200 BC to around 1800 BC and spanning across parts of Germany and all of what is present-day Poland. The pottery produced by this culture was tan or brown and decorated with bands of dots around the surface. The vessels were either beaker-shaped or large round pots called Amphoras.



The Pomerelian Face Urn Culture

History of Polish Pottery

Pomerelian Face Urn Culture

 Around 500 BC, during the Iron Age, came the Pomerelian Face Urn Culture.  Their pottery featured male faces around the neck of the vessel and a bulbous base representing the human torso. These burial urns had hat-lids decorated with solar motifs. In many cases, small bronze earrings were placed on the pottery. Each urn had separate facial characteristics and there was often a hunting scene or even a chariot race painted on each vessel.

The Middle Ages

Following the dark ages, pottery from the early middle ages has been found in Boleslawiec dating from around 600 AD when the town was called Boleslawice. Boleslawiec itself was established in 1202, it was then a German town named Bunslau (this is why the pottery is sometimes referred to as Bunslau pottery). Boleslawiec is still known today for its excellent naturally found stoneware. The people of the middle ages were privy to this and historical records from 1380 speak of a Potter from Boleslawiec. Unfortunately, in 1492 the town was nearly decimated by the Hussite Wars. Thankfully, the town was rebuilt and the first pottery Guild was formed in 1511. Pottery dating from this era contains the signatures of the master craftsmen who created them. This may be viewed as a precursor to Unikat pieces.


Pottery for Royalty

Boleslawiec was one again nearly destroyed, this time by the Thirty Year War lasting from 1618 to 1648.   The town went from 600 residents to 80. Once again, Boleslawiec was rebuilt by its potters and began making pottery for royalty around 1650, this reputation for excellent pottery spread throughout Europe in the 1700s.


The Beginning of the Modern Boleslawiec Tradition

Hisotry of Boleslawiec Polish Pottery

6′ tall pot created by Johann Gottlieb Joppe. A replica still sits in the town square today. Photo may found at http://www.ceramicboleslawiec.com.pl/

 In 1753, potters of the area built a 6 foot tall clay pot which became the symbol for Boleslawiec, a replica of this pot still rests in the town square today. At this time, the pottery produced in Boleslawiec was made of a brown clay body called earthenware and covered with brown glaze. Additionally, all of the pottery was created on the potter’s wheel. This is much different than the pottery produced today. The pottery made in modern Boleslawiec is in large part a result of the efforts of Johann Gottlieb Altman. He introduced reusable molds to the region and began using a different clay body, known as stoneware. Stoneware is white like porcelain and far more durable than earthenware.  Also, he porbably saved lives by introducing glazes made with the element Feldspar rather than continuing to use glazes made with lead.

The Famous Peacock Pattern

Peacock Pattern Polish Pottery

Peacock pattern in Royal Blue


Potters wanted to attract the favour of royalty and nobility to ensure they would have continued income, this lead to the famous peacock pattern as well as the royal blue color that Polish Pottery is most widely known for. Male peacocks have historically been a symbol of wealth and royalty in Europe, because of this, ceramic artists began basing their design motifs on the patterning of the male peacock, specifically their beautiful tails. The swirling designs found in this pattern are a direct correlation to the peacock’s tail.


The Great War


Boleslawiec Polish Pottery

Bunzlauer Braunzeug Pottery

Boleslawiec artists formed the Professional School of Ceramics in 1897. The area was so famous for its pottery that Dr. Wilhelm Pukall left his position as technical director for the Royal Manufacture of Porcelain in Berlin to become the school’s first headmaster. Unfortunately, war once again tore through Boleslawiec during WWI. After the war ended in 1936, a cooperative consisting of six guilds was formed. This, however, was a step farther away from the pottery produced in Boleslawiec today. Bunzlauer Braunzeug, as the cooperative was called, was named for the town of Boleslawiec (the German town of Bunzlauer, the alternative name for Boleslawiec) and the color brown. The pottery emerging at this time was typical of the pottery created before Johann Gottlieb Altman came along and revolutionized the pottery of this region. It was brown with white decorations. This continued until WWII.


World War II to Present

 Boleslawiec is only 50 miles from Germany and 80% of the manufacturers were destroyed during WWII. In 1950, however, the State Committee of Economic Planning commissioned the Centre of the Folk and Artistic Industry to rebuild the ceramics industry of Boleslawiec. There was a closed plant that was still standing after the war, called Julius Paul and Son. This is where Ceramika Artystyczna (Artistic Ceramics) started the first post-war factory making Boleslawiec Polish Pottery. At first they only made vases, but by the next year they were stamping and hand-painting dinnerware, and by 1954 they were a full cooperative with 45 employees. In 2000, Ceramika Artystyczna had over 230 employees and offered hundreds of patterns. This paved the way for the numerous other family businesses and cooperatives that exist in Boleslaweic today.

Boleslaweic Pottery

Ceramika Artystyczna’s artists in 2000.

The history of Boleslawiec is truly incredible.  To know what it took for the artists of Boleslawiec to exist today is fascinating. The ceramic artists of this region have proven to be strong-willed, resilient, and guided by what seems to be a desire and a calling to create beauty. Owning a piece of Polish Pottery is like owning a piece of history and perseverance; a piece of triumph over devastation, and of course, a piece of exquisite beauty.

Boleslawiec Pottery & Dinnerware

    The beauty of modern day Boleslawiec Pottery



You can find Boleslawiec Stoneware & Dinnerware at Polmedia Polish Pottery.

COLLECTOR’S CORNER: Insider Tips for Collectors of Polish Pottery


Dorothy Rosa (Durkee) -– Blog Contribution –  June 2013

As much as we’d all love to have vast and varied collections of Polish Pottery, there are practical limits to our collecting –- limits of space to display or store our treasures, of funds with which to purchase them, and of time to manage it all.  So the questions naturally arise, What to buy? When to buy? And where to buy?

This month, we’ll offer some suggestions about What to buy; next month, When to buy; and in July, Where to buy. After that, we’ll cover a variety of topics of interest to Polish Pottery collectors, including Creative Tablescaping, Mixing and Matching Patterns, All You Need to Know about Shopping for Polish Pottery – in Boleslawiec and Beyond, and How I Found The Courage to Take My Polish Pottery out of the Cabinet and Actually USE It.

What To Buy?

Experienced collectors know what they like. Some collect just one pattern, others a primary pattern with accent pieces in another (or two, or ten). There are those who collect by color (blue and white, for example) or theme (butterflies, birds, flashy florals). Still others choose to “mix and match,” meticulously blending diverse colors and themes in elegant tablescapes. I favor an eclectic mix, offering up to my guests combinations of patterns more or less willy-nilly, something the forgiving nature of Polish Pottery designs readily permits.

Cherished for its artistry, utility, and durability, Polish Pottery from Boleslawiec is also valued for its ability to “play well with others.” Shown here: three different patterns from two manufacturers playing very nicely indeed (top to bottom: WR #AW1, Polmedia P1847A ;WR #EZ3, Polmedia #P3936A; and the hard-to-find “Klara” pattern from Vena.All three are Traditional patterns.)


Faced with choosing from nearly 5000 patterns, new collectors can simplify the selection process by trying out different patterns and “looks” by buying a small piece -– a luncheon plate, for example — in each of the patterns they like. When beginning collectors ask, I suggest, “Buy the one that moves you, but be open to change.” Properly nourished, our vision expands.

The question of whether to buy “Unikat” (unique, hand-signed and hand-decorated, with brushes and sponges, always by a highly accomplished, individual artist) pieces or non-Unikat (hand-decorated, but by various artists, and unsigned) pieces may be answered by your budget or personal preference. Unikat pieces will always cost more than non-Unikat pieces, so it’s up to you to decide whether you want: one exceptional piece, for example, or two or three (or more) lovely but less exceptional pieces. I have both: Unikat for display and for very special occasions, non-Unikat for everyday use. I do keep a 12-ounce bubble mug in a favorite (and admittedly pricey) high-end Unikat pattern (U1123 Ceramika Artystyczna, Polmedia P1990A) for my morning coffee.

Polish Pottery was made to be used. And that means – for the brave ones among us — Unikat on the deck for morning coffee.

What to buy or not buy is obviously a matter of personal preference. Choices abound, especially when it comes to novelty or special-interest patterns.

There are cat patterns…

Ceramika Artystyczna  1771X, Polmedia P6131A


Ceramika Artystyczna 1771 , Polmedia  P6226A


…camel patterns…

Zaklady 842AK, Polmedia P5055A


…horse patterns…

Ceramika Artystyczna 1143X, Polmedia P3994A


…and, of course a long, long list of animal and character figurines.


As time passes we’ll cover these topics in greater detail. But for now, I’ll offer three suggestions for building a successful collection:


1. Learn all you can. As always, an informed consumer is a happy one. Browse the internet thoroughly, bookmarking sites to which you’ll want to return when you’re ready to buy. Keep notes. I maintain two separate digital files, one for tracking details of purchases (with copies to our insurance company) and the other for recording what I want to remember about artists, factories, vendors, and the business/hobby in general.)


2. If you love it, buy it. Don’t worry about whether or not a piece will “match” the rest of your collection. Chances are it will: Polish Pottery was made for “mix and match.” It plays well with others. If a piece doesn’t seem to fit, no matter: Display it solo or tuck it away to enjoy some rainy afternoon when it’s just you and your odd little item and a warm pot of tea.


3. Find a friend (or friends) to share the fun. On line or off, everything’s better with friends.


Next month: When To Buy

Dorothy Rosa Durkee is an independent writer, retired magazine editor, and former military wife with a passion for collecting Polish Pottery. When not dusting or rearranging her collection, she spends her time volunteering in local schools and working in animal rescue.

Handmade from Poland: The Technique Behind Beautiful Polish Stoneware

The process of creating one piece of Polish pottery involves several artisans and many hours of skilled work.  In fact, the manufacture of this stoneware is held in such high regard, there is a school in Boleslawiec, Poland dedicated to passing on the tradition and unique quality of this trade through apprenticeships and training.  Purveyors of high quality Polish pottery appreciate the effort, skill, and creativity put to use in every piece.


Polish pottery begins with a master form-maker designing a shape (platter, mug, for example) out of wax, then filling a box around it with a hardening compound.  After several hours, when the compound has set, the form-maker will be able to cut the form case into two pieces, drilling a hole so that he may fill it with liquid clay in the future.  The wax form is removed and any deformities in the form are smoothed and corrected.  The form-maker may take several turns at this, as samples are made from the form and the shape is perfected.


Next, a clay-worker fills the form with liquid clay, waits several hours for it to set, carefully removes the form, and skillfully cuts away any excess clay from the formed piece.  This artisan is trained to also smooth the surface with a damp sponge so that no imperfections or bumps exist and the piece sits correctly or is flush with a table top or wall, for instance.  The clay is then left to dry to room temperature before firing.  After the piece is baked once at a constant 850 degrees in a firing kiln, it hardens to stone and previously dull clay brightens to a white “bisque.”

Plain white bisque is then filled with color by classically trained artists who, with extreme precision and flair, transfer their original designs to this medium.  Each piece sits upon a turntable in front of the artist, while the artist stamps or paints a design in repeating fashion, slowly spinning the piece in a circular motion.  This method helps the artist maintain uniformity from one piece to the next, but the artist’s own hand is ultimately responsible for the beauty of each piece as he or she follows and replicates an original pattern.  This process can take several hours, depending on the size of the piece.  Whether hand-stamping or painting, the painter uses unbelievable skill in keeping the design clean — using multiple colors, sponges, and brushes — and avoiding smudges and pattern imperfections.


Next, painted pieces of Polish pottery are hand-dipped in a clear glaze and placed on a rack for firing a second time in higher temperature of 1250 degrees.  After the piece is fired, the paint colors become vibrant and the design is more prominent.  When the pieces have cooled after some time, they are quality checked to single out those pieces with glaze irregularities or that need to be corrected and sent back through the last two steps.

Quality checking, the final step, is actually something that the artisans do throughout the entire process as they’re working, and again a couple times at the end.  Because each piece is handmade, small variations will occur making each piece unique; however, every step of the process is geared toward creating a quality, standardized product and replicating the same beautiful nature of each piece is the artisans highest priority.  Each final product is given a specific quality label, and most retail stores will only sell Quality 1, the highest quality.  Quality 2 and below stoneware can be found in several manufacturer’s retail outlets.

Did you have any idea so many hands were involved in making your one piece of Polish pottery?  Have you ever compared Quality 1 to Quality 2 Polish stoneware, and could you tell the difference?

What is Unikat Polish Pottery?

In Polish, the word for unique is Unikat

Polish Pottery Stoneware PLATE

Often, our customers will navigate through the website and then find a piece that is marked as Unikat, which is located on the bottom of the Polish pottery piece. This is where the manufacturer will normally stamp their logo. The manufacturer logo stamp will indicate that the pottery piece is hand made in Poland. The Unikat pattern may or may not have the artist signature on the bottom, but a Unikat piece will always be stamped with “UNIKAT” on the Polish pottery.

Polish Pottery Stoneware PIE DISH FLUTED

Distinctively designed, Unikat pottery has sophisticated details that define the pattern’s own uniqueness. This distinguishes each Polish pottery piece as an individual to its counterparts. No piece of Polish pottery will ever be exactly the same.

Polish Pottery Stoneware BUBBLE MUG

Our Polish pottery is hand-made and hand-painted. Therefore, all pieces are personalized by an artist and are all very special and unique in their own pattern design. However, a Unikat piece is hand-made and hand-painted by an exceptionally skilled artist.
Unikat artists immerse themselves in intense training and have spent years practicing their own techniques to individualize the definitive Unikat patterns.

Polish Pottery Stoneware PLATE

A Unikat Polish pottery piece is remarkably breathtaking, considering the time and effort that an artist takes to make the piece. Using a variety of six to eight paint colors and including fine details, each one is unique.
Popular with collectors of Polish pottery, Unikat pieces are normally purchased as display items. However, as the popularity of these unique designs is slowly expanding, more than just collectors are now purchasing the pieces.


Gołąbki – Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


1 whole big head cabbage, approximately 4-pound

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves minced garlic

1 pound ground beef chuck

1 pound lean ground pork

3 cups cooked rice

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3-4 cups beef stock

6 oz can tomato paste


1. Remove core from the cabbage.

2. Place cabbage  in a deep pot and pour boiling water to cover the whole cabbage, cover with lid and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and let it stand for a few minutes until the leaves are soft enough to pull off individual leaves.


3. Separate leaves carefully.



4. Trim the thick center stem at bottom of each leaf   

without cutting all the way through and set them aside.

5. In a large bowl mix well all ingredients for the stuffing — pork, beef, cooked rice, egg, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. 



6. Line bottom of a 4-5 quarts pot with any torn cabbage, trimmings or leaves that are too small too use for stuffing.

7. Place 2 spoonfuls of meat stuffing on each cabbage leaf. 



8. Roll it up.



9. Then tuck the ends in.  



10. Place the cabbage rolls and arrange rolls in layers on top of the torn cabbage and trimmings that you prepared in a 4-5 quart pot. 


11. Pour beef stock onto the rolls and add the tomato paste.

12. Add salt and pepper to taste.

13. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours.

Garnish with parsley.

Serve hot with potatoes.

Smacznego 🙂


Polish Style Fried Chicken


12-14 de-skinned (optional) chicken legs, cooked

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

Salt, pepper to taste

1 cup vegetable oil

For broth:

2 quarts water

4 large pealed carrots

1/2 onion

bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste


Put de-skinned (optional) chicken legs in a large pot cover it with, about 2 quarts of water.

Add bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste. Add 4 large pealed carrots and 1/2 onion.

Cook it for 1 hour over medium heat.

Take out chicken legs from the broth and cool them down.

In a medium bowl whip eggs with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.

Pour 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs in a separate bowl.

Heat approximately 1 cup of vegetale oil on a nonstick pan. After about 2 min lower the heat to medium.

One by one dip chicken legs into the eggs mixture then roll in bread crumbs.

Place one drumstick at a time in hot oil (fits about 7 drumsticks).

Fry chicken on one side for 4 minutes or until crust is golden then turn each chicken leg over and fry on the other side for about 3 minutes or until golden.


The following dish can be found at www.artisanimports.com

Polish Pottery Stoneware fork                    Polish Pottery Stoneware platter

Blueberry Cake – 4th of July


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

cooking spray

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups icing sugar


1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup strawberries cut in stripes

Preparation – Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine flour, baking powder in a medium bowl.

3. Place sugar and margarine or butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Add vanilla,

5. Add eggs, one by one. Beat well.

 6. Add flour mixture.

7. Spoon the batter into a 9×7-inch baking pan (or slightly bigger) coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with 1 1/2 cup blueberries.

8. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

9. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

10. For the frosting, mix the butter and cream cheese until creamy smooth.

11. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

12. Add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.

13. Spread on cooled cake.

14. Decorate with blueberries and strawberries.


The following dishes can be found at www.artisanimports.com

Polish Pottery Stoneware rectangular baker  Polish Pottery Stoneware bowl  Polish Pottery Stoneware rectangular baker

Potato Salad With Dill Pickles


2 lbs. potatoes (5 – 6 medium), cut into 3/4-inch chunks

1/2 medium onion, chopped

8 hard-cooked eggs, chopped 

5 dill pickles, diced (I use Claussen pickles because they are always crunchy and garlicky)

1 1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper


1. Put washed potatoes with the skin in 4-quart pot; cover them with water (about 2 quarts) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel the skin off and dice.

2. In a large bowl combine mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Add potatoes, onion, pickles, and eggs and mix well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.




The following dish can be found at www.artisanimports.com

Polish Pottery Stoneware scalloped bowl