Around 1800, the Russian artisan brothers Kulikov, from the region of Gzhel, near Moscow in Russia, perfected a secret porcelain technique that was only previously used in China. It must have been difficult to keep that secret as it wasn’t too long before others from the area also began producing porcelain, and by 1917, one factory in Gzhel, produced 2/3 of all the porcelain in Russia and was the largest porcelain factory in Europe.
In Russia, the tradition of Gzhel porcelain continues today with a strikingly beautiful and traditional form of tableware and decorative porcelain, that is appreciated throughout the world.
Russian handicrafts: Gzhel porcelain factory near Moscow – In Russian!
The Gzhel Paint Technique
“Painting is made by special cobalt paints which is put on the raw un-glazed porcelain pieces. Then the painted products are burnt in the high-temperature ovens. As a result of burning the cobalt painting, almost black before burning, becomes bright and vivid blue. Then the products are coated with glaze and are burnt at second time. This technique allows to protect painting very well.”
The depth and variety in colour value in Gzhel painting is achieved only with the brush technique and the pressure of the bristles on the surface.
Tours of the Gzhel factory can be arranged for visitors. Paint your own masterpiece of Gzheli. As I won’t be in Moscow anytime soon, I decided to try out a little Gzhel on simple white cardstock. These motifs are quite easy to achieve for the beginner painter or folk artist. Pinterest has loads of inspirational photos.
If you’re able to master some basic folk art techniques, you might design a small sample of Gzhel art to enjoy for yourself.
What do you think? Is this traditional art form really something to ponder about?