Monday, December 30, 2013

Polish Pottery trip

I really really REALLY wanted to get to Poland while we are stationed here, and it was looking like it wasn't going to happen.  It's a good 9 or 10 hour drive, and what I mainly wanted to do was go pottery shopping. I've heard of groups of friends filling up a car with people and doing a 3 day weekend trip, splitting the cost of gas and hotel- but it just didn't work out for me to do that.  So- I signed up for a USO bus tour.  We rode overnight Friday night, arrived early Saturday- shopped all day Saturday, then spent the night at the Blue Beetroot hotel.  Did a castle and a little more shopping on Sunday, and were home Monday morning around 2am.  Although it was hard to get good quality sleep on the bus, since I'm used to traveling with children, I had no problem!  No one to feed, no emergency bathroom trips, no one begging for snacks, or toys, etc.  I did a little reading, and made some new friends- it was great!

I first found out about Polish pottery from the folks at The Extra Ingredient, in Greensboro.  Since my family is Polish, I was already drawn to it- but I also love the mixtures of patterns and colors.  None of what I already have matches, so finding more would be easy.  I also studied the stamps on the back of the pottery to figure out which factory it came from, so I could be sure to get similar sized plates, etc.  Lastly, I took pictures of everything I had on my phone, and brought them with me to reference.

They announced we were getting close to the town of Boleslawiec right as the sun was coming up.

This was our bus- every person got 2 seats, and there were a few open rows.

This is the first place we went- called Andy's.  They are in the process of building a larger showroom and factory, and today only had one room open for shopping.  And it was really small!

We packed a whole bus full of people into a small room!  It was overwhelming- and hard to know what was a good deal.  I saw a few patterns that I liked, but mainly tried to take note of the prices.  After all, I knew we were headed to another 8 (or more!) stores after this one! 

Boleslawiec is known for its pottery, because of the clay soil that is in this region.  It is so pure and strong once it is baked into pottery.  Here is another little shop that was down the street- take note of the interesting power pole.  It was made out of cinder block material.

Each store offers things a little differently.  You have to carefully check the pieces for their Quality number- which is on a stamp or sticker.  The best, and most expensive are qualities 1, which are essentially perfect in shape and painting.  Quality 2 is close to perfect, but normally has one tiny flaw in the painting- you can still cook in it and use it- and many of the flaws are impossible to find..  Anything 3 or lower you wouldn't want to cook in, because it has some sort of structural or shape flaw, and could crack.  But if it's a decorative piece, it may not matter to you.  I stuck with all 1 and 2s, because a lot of what I was getting was a gift, and I would hate for someone's gift to crack when they use it!

When we left the store to head to the glass factory, we passed this cemetery.  It was really beautifully landscaped, and every grave was raised up and decorated.  It looks so different than an American cemetery, that I just had to take a picture.

This is the sign for Borowski, glass blowing factory.  They ship their creations all over the world.

We got a tour, and could see the workers.  They move so fast! 

It was amazing to me that there were so many people working so close together, and so quickly.  I wonder if anyone gets burned by accident?

Here is their showroom.  The smaller pieces were around $100, and the larger ones close to $1000!

These huge lamps are over $1000!  And gorgeous!

At least we got to the factory I was waiting for- Ceramika Artystyczna.  Most of the pottery I have comes from this factory, because that is where The Extra Ingredient gets theirs from.  It's really high quality, so one of the more expensive factories- but I could immediately see the difference.

Their shop is one big long room, and the pottery was stacked from floor to ceiling.  It was so hard to walk around, and in order to shop you had to pick up pottery and move it.  My arms were tired after 30 minutes of shopping!  But- I got plates and bowls of the same size and shape that we already had, in some new patterns.  I'm so happy!

This factory made a pattern specifically to be presented to Pope John Paul II.

No comments: