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Getting Fired Up in Gzhel

Visiting it, seeing the artisans at work and buying their wares is easily done in a day trip from the capital.


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Matvei Kuznetsov, the "Father of Russian Porcelain," founded a small business in in Novokharitonovo. Eventually the workshop developed into a monster that monopolized the industry: The age of mechanization obliterated smaller Gzhel artisans, and the folk tradition was all but lost, to be resurrected only after World War II by two artist enthusiasts.

Russian ceramics gzhel

The potters and artists who carry on the reborn tradition of Gzhel are now part of "Obyedineniye Gzhel," a group of workshops housed in a large building just off the main road. The salon is on the first floor of the factory, offering anything from tiny saucers and giant wall clocks to icons and menorahs -- and even such oddities as a bust of General Georgy Zhukov.

Catalogs list more special items, such as tiles for fireplaces and Chekhov character collectibles. Prices are much lower than in Moscow, starting from as little as 20 rubles, and there is no risk of ending up with a fake. However, when Russia was able to produce its own porcelain, it undercut the high cost of imports from China or Western European producers.

Blue and White pottery : porcelain

By the ss most of Russian porcelain was produced in Gzhel. Gzhel ware became increasingly popular not only in Russia, but also abroad. By the middle of the 19th century Gzhel became the principal pottery supplier to the whole country. However, the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Great Patriotic War caused Gzhel production to waver due to lack of demand and materials. It was also during this time that Ghzel production as a whole was facing a crisis, as there was an on-off gap on production for over three decades.

As a result of the crisis in , the Gzhel Association was established with six Gzhel manufacturing factories located in several villages as associates. However, this crisis brought about a new-age Renaissance for Ghzel production as a whole. This renewed interest prompted young artists to explore new design methods.

Studying the art of Gzhel pottery, Vologda embroidery and Palekh painting - Russia Beyond

The painting became richer, more complex, and more contemporary artistically. Whilst this new generation of artists explored new themes and artistic styles, they also strove to maintain traditional styles that made Gzhel the great folk art it is known for.


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It is this confluence of the old and the new that has corroborated to make a very unique artistic style that has never been seen before. Now, Blue and White pottery is once again being produced in both the world-famous blue on white cobalt design and the colorful Maiolica earthenware.

Gzhel pottery is seen in hundreds of varieties: Now, the Gzhel styles can be seen permeating into the fashion industry, the interior design, and there even exists Gzhelka, new highly artistic Russian vodka. According to the technique, objects are made of clay, fired in a kiln, adorned with cobalt paint and then covered with glaze. The Gzhel State Art and Industry Institute not far from the village of Gzhel offers academic programs on creating crockery sets and other decorative objects.

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Blue and White porcelain - pottery

The program at the Folk Arts and Crafts Faculty lasts four years and includes the basics of painting, modeling and decorating artistic ceramics and pottery, as well as other disciplines. Foreigners wishing to enroll must be proficient in the Russian language. Gzhel is a district of 27 villages famous for the extraction of various types of clay. At the beginning of the 19th century the locals began producing coarse earthenware.

Then the peasant Kulikovy brothers developed a white faience and in the first porcelain factory was established, which launched the production of Gzhel. By the s almost half of Russia's earthenware and porcelain enterprises were concentrated in the district.

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This website uses cookies. Click here to find out more. Studying the art of Gzhel pottery, Vologda embroidery and Palekh painting Lifestyle. Russia is home to a number of well-known traditional folk crafts, many of which are centuries old and cannot be found elsewhere. But how do people learn how to produce these handicrafts, and where can foreigners sign up?

Palekh varnished miniature painting Foreigners can learn the methods of painting miniatures by doing an internship at the M.

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