Like all of art, the history of pottery has broad and deep roots. It is possible to study pottery and ceramics a lifetime and never get to the end of its rich history that parallels human development. So it is that this discussion merely scratches the surface by examining a very attractive style of dishware that is referred to simply as “Polish pottery”.
While traveling through Ohio last week, I stopped by Zanesville Pottery, a large retail outlet located along Interstate 70 and paralleling the historic National Road (US Route 40). Zanesville Pottery is a great source for pottery because you can see the inventory first hand. Kim and Carolyn Castor own and manage the business that has been in operation for over 45 years. There are multiple stories from a visit here, and this one focuses on the Polish pottery.
The specific name is Bunzlauer style and dates to the 12th century. If you investigate the history of the town, Bunzlau, you will discover pottery development that is many centuries older than this style. It is known for its natural clay deposits and as a source for glazes. Featured in the slideshow are the more ornate patterns associated with this style.
The common element between Zanesville Ohio and Bunzlau is that both have a history of pottery. Yet because there are so few local pottery manufacturers remaining in Ohio, the business has established sources from around the world such as Poland.
Notice the the peacock's eye motif. Some historians link this with art potter, Friedrich Festersen (1880–1915).
“Although Festersen was a casualty of the First World War, his art pottery survived until 1922 under the leadership of his widow Sonja.”
There is a litany of pottery artists who produced work associated with this style.
“So popular did the new Bunzlauer style become that several of the firms, using the technical advice offered by the Bunzlau Keramische Fachschule, transformed their pot shops into large-scale, slip-casting ceramic factories. Leading the way in this manufacturing conversion was the pottery company of Julius Paul & Sohn which was founded in 1893 and continued in operation until 1945. This company was rivaled in quality and innovative design by the firms of Hugo Reinhold, and Edwin Werner. While most of the potteries in Bunzlau and in the surrounding communities continued to utilize the forms by now traditional to Bunzlauer ware, these three "high style" firms experimented with Jugendstil aesthetics and such decorative additions as gold gilding.
All of these commercializing developments encouraged a flourishing export trade which brought shipments of Bunzluer pottery not only to all parts of Europe but into the United States as well, where it competed with similar but recognizably distinct wares produced in neighboring Saxony and Lusatia by such potters as Paul Schreier of Bischofswerda. In the United States, Bunzlauer ware was often marketed under the labels of "Blue Mountain Pottery" or "Erphila," the acronym of the Philadelphia retailer Eberling & Reuss.’
‘During the 1920s, the Bunzlauer potters also began to borrow design elements from the postwar Art Deco style. In Art Deco, the naturalistic curves of Jugendstil gave way to geometric patterns and the streamlined aerodynamics appropriate to the machine age and the concept of mass production. The Art Deco style, as it developed in Germany, was significantly influenced by Cubism and its offshoot Suprematism. The Suprematist style of pure, geometric abstraction had developed in Russia and was introduced into the famous Bauhaus Design School in Dessau in the 1920s. It was probably from the Bauhaus that this modernist aesthetic was transmitted initially to the Ceramic Technical Training in Bunzlau and then into the design repertoire of those decorating Bunzlauer pottery in the years between the two world wars. The geometric patterns of these new designs were well suited to application utilizing the newly invented airbrush canister and stencil patterns. The Bunzlauer potteries, however, continued to use the ever popular peacock's eye motif on their spongeware production; they simply added new design lines offering an alternative to a new generation of buyer.”
The defeat of Germany in World War II and the annexation of Silesia by Poland, with the subsequent expulsion of the German population, threatened to end the Bunzlauer ceramic tradition, but it managed to survive in the shops established by displaced potters in the ceramic centers of West Germany, where Bunzlauer style pottery continued to be produced, long celebrated for their native earthenwares or salt-glazed and cobalt-decorated stonewares. Gerhard Seiler from Naumburg am Queis relocated to Leutershausen in Bavaria. Paul Vogt, also from Naumburg settled in Pang near Rosenheim. Max and Wilhelm Werner from Tillendorf initially moved to Höhr-Grenzhausen in the Westerwald range before setting up a shop in nearby Hilgert in 1960. Höhr-Grenzhausen also attracted Georg and Steffi Peltner as well as the firm of Alois Boehm. Georg Greulich opened his pottery in Fredelsloh. The Buchwald brothers relocated to Bayreuth, while Hans Wesenberg founded a studio in Ludwigsburg. Several of these master potters from the Bunzlau district took on fellow Silesian apprentices who went on to open shops of their own in western Germany. Thus, hundreds of miles to the west of Silesia, the Bunzlauer tradition remained alive and well.”
Don't forget, if you want some locally fired pottery with Polish roots, Elizabeth Greene is a great source from Lee Arts Center.
Zanesville Pottery Inc
7395 East Pike
Zanesville, Ohio 43701