House of Crafts - Crafts Workshops
Pottery Studio
Pottery trade was a part of Russian folk life. Every household used earthenware. Each region had its pottery masters and its clays. There were so many different types of kitchenware! Pots for porridge, for milking, for buckwheat, for liquids or pots with high necks, toys, pennywhistles etc. Most of them are lost and the old masters are gone, but they left their handiwork.
My Russian heart aches when I see cheap coffee (restaurants) shops in Pseudo-Russian style decorated with old pottery. They could be the last works of the old masters. Zapovednik managed to gather an excellent collection of ethnographic ceramics. Probably this collection gave the start for this pottery studio. I cannot recollect how the idea to study pottery making was born, but I went to the master from Jaroslavl Alexej Zolotov, a descender from a pottery makers' family.  After that I founded the pottery studio in Zapovednik. Now it is working we have a kiln, a wheel, clay and all the necessary equipment. I can proudly tell that a part of the collection's ceramics stays in the studio. Skomoroch gave us some of the ancient pots, to serve as models and deliver basic ideas that will be the foundation of our studies.
 
The humbleness of the folk pottery is deceptive. There are hundreds of years of Russian masters' work behind it. There is a lot to study there. We begin to teach from the basics in the studio — how to prepare the clay, hands' positions and the firing process. It is for those who would like to learn the craft of pottery as well as for those who saw the work with the potter's wheel and would like to try it. Many people come just to watch wheel-throwing.
We have also clay for sculpturing. Zapovednik's children come to make frogs, castles and even land tanks.  You can also learn burnishing. It is one of the most ancient methods of treating the article before firing. A not yet quite dry article is polished with a stone or a spoon. After firing such items shine and do not leak.
Such are the properties of this material Earthenware has short life.  
Here is a riddle about a pot:
           I was dug out, I was trampled,
I was on the wheel, I was in the fire.
I fed hundred heads:
I became old, I got some swaddling cloths,
Then they threw me out of the window, even the dogs don't need me.
/Vologod Region/
 
It is natural. The pot is broken and was thrown away.
 
The craft is still preserved, though it has a tendency towards art and design.
 
A part of our cultural heritage is fused in the pottery trade. In olden days it was simply necessary to make kitchenware for the family; toys and pennywhistles for the children and to make them directly out of what the Earth gave us. Something true, really genuine seems to emerge from this craft.
 
Zapovednik's Potter Alexander Dmitrenko
 
© Zapovednik of folk life (Russia)