Pottery is a craft that creates and shapes ceramics. It is one of the main crafts practiced by the Slavs and is considered one of the most ancient crafts. In the past pottery has been treated as a secret never to abandon the family boundaries and to be handed down from generation to generation, from father to son. The people practicing this craft are called potters.
Potters master diverse techniques in their creations of various ceramic products, the most important of which are their own hands and the lathe. Over the years a lot of additional instruments have become useful in the refinement of wares such as paddles, forming tools and others. The lathe is operated by feet or hand and twists, which contributes to the shaping of the final product’s symmetric forms. Nowadays it is powered electrically.
Pottery served mainly for the creation of utensils, most commonly used in the homes of the Bulgarian people in accordance with their customs and traditions, such as pots, plates, cups, hotchpotches, bowls a.o. Due to the low prices of the production materials utensils became ubiquitous and useful, meeting the needs of the people. Typical of this craft is also the implementation of ornaments and decorations.
The unique adoration of the ceramic utensils is characteristic of its purpose. There are several techniques of coloring – painting, hand engraving and the application of patterns.
The painting technique implements a static technology. Using various colors and patterns the master potters draw with their brush on the clay, a process peculiar to every region in Bulgaria. The motifs are geometric shapes, plants and animals. Static technology provides plenty of freedom with the size of the motifs and is considered very difficult demanding a lot of skills from the creftsmen.
Engraving or variegation implements a dynamic technology. It uses the swirling movement of the lathe, which allows a string following of the line of the product, consistent with its shape. This type of decoration is applied with an awl or a comb while the lathe is spinning. The outcome of the process is the creation of distinctive shapes – spirals, rainbows, waves and stripes.
Application implies that clay is added to the final product. This added element is often painted in a dry, static state.
The key sites of master pottery are Etara, Troyan, Zlatograd a.o.