Boleslawiec (German Bunzlau before the war) is a picturesque Polish town situated on the Beaver River. It has been known for several centuries as an important center for the production of pottery. It became so thanks to the deposits of unique clay, from which heat-resistant and impermeable vessels are made. There are also clays that are used for glazing, especially for shiny brown glazes.
The oldest mention of the potter from Boleslawiec is found in the books of the town of Svídnice from 1380. The oldest preserved vessel is a bottle from 1640. In the second half of the 17th century, a new "chubby" type of bottles and jugs decorated with ribbing and covered with natural enamel made of local clay. In the second half of the 18th century, jugs with brown glaze began to be decorated with motifs made of white unglazed clay. These jugs have a tin lid and are often provided with dates or initials. In addition to wine and beer jugs, tea or coffee pots, mugs, cups, jars and inkwells are increasingly appearing.
Jan Gotlieb Altmann introduced major changes in production at the beginning of the 19th century. It was mainly the use of non-hazardous glazes (based on feldspar) to cover the interiors of dishes instead of the lead ones used so far. He was also the first to use white clay for making vessels, which until then had only been used to decorate brown glazes. He created a lot of classic forms, he started decorating with gold and cobalt. His work was awarded a gold medal at the London World's Fair in 1844.
In the second half of the 19th century, white clay was commonly used to make vessels. In order to better compete with porcelain, which was becoming increasingly popular in Europe, Boleslavie pottery is beginning to be decorated with colored stamps, most often in the form of circles, dots, peacocks and clover leaves. Colors such as cobalt blue, green, brown and ocher dominate. This method of decorating persists until the II. World War.
In 1897, a pottery vocational school was established in Boleslawiec, which later proved to be a major contribution to the development of the industry in the area. Dr. Wilhelm Pukall from Berlin was appointed director. In addition to educational activities, the school supported the introduction of new production methods. These changes affected the entire production process. The composition and processing of the input raw material has changed. The shapes began to be cast into plaster molds, thus achieving identical dimensions of individual pieces with a more perfect and smooth surface. Thanks to the new furnace designs, the firing process has also improved, and new ways of decorating and glazing have emerged. Among those who were most actively involved in the cooperation with the school were the Reinhold and Paul und Sohn plants, on the basis of which the current companies were established after the war. The result of these changes was products of significantly higher quality, competitiveness and artistic level.
Until 1939, there were around twenty ceramic workshops in Boleslawiec, which, in addition to tableware, also produced earthenware pipes, containers for the chemical industry and architectural elements. Further development was interrupted by II. World War , during which the city was partially destroyed and pottery workshops were devastated.
After the war, Tadeusz Szafran, a professor at the Cracow Art School, was called in to revive the pottery industry in the area. As early as 1946, the first vessel was burned in the reopened Reinhold plant. In 1949, production was resumed at the former "Paul und Sohn" plant, which produced artistic ceramics before the war.
A year later, the "Ceramika Artystyczna" cooperative was formed on its basis. From the very beginning, the artistic patronage of it was taken over by important artists working at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław. The graduates of this school then became important artistic and leading workers in the "Ceramice Artystyczne" in later years.