Kashubians learn for years how to become a master in their profession, and then they pass their knowledge on to the youngsters – in this way, from generation to generation, the pottery tradition has survived in Kashubia. In Chmielno, in the Necel family company, we can find out for ourselves what the process of producing clay vessels looks like, and it is not as easy as it seems.
After a manually-formed vessel dries, it should be coated with slip, i.e. effecting a change in the natural colour of clay. At the next stage, the vessel should be fired in a kiln at a temperature of 800 – 850°C. When the item reaches the proper hardness, women proceed to the manual decoration of vessels by glazing them so that it becomes glossy, after which the vessels are fired once again, this time in a temperature of over 900°C. Only vessels processed in such a way are ready for use.
Few companies dealing with manual ceramics production have survived to the present day. One of them is the Necel family company in Chmielno. Now it is the already the ninth generation cultivating many years of family traditions. For years, the Necel family has developed a style distinctive among other ceramics producers. They most frequently produce vessels in white, yellow, green, brown and deep blue, decorated with unique ornamentation. Among the many shapes decorating the vessels are lilac twigs, small tulips, large tulips, the Kashubian star, fish scales, Kashubian garlands, and lilies. The ornaments decorate not only vessels but also beautiful stove tiles, produced only by Leon Lecel.
Another well-known pottery centre is Kartuzy, where the Meissner family produced vessels are characterised by white slip and cobalt decorations. Only later did the Meissners begin to use deep blue, yellow and brown. They most frequently used the motif of a tulip and oxeye daisies to decorate their products. Meissner was also known for producing stove tiles, modelled on Gdańsk stoves, which he decorated with Kashubian embroidery motifs from Wdzydze.
The oldest pottery centre in Kashubia is Kościerzyna, in hich in 1961 there were as many as 18 potters, some of which from the Necel family.
The exquisitely-beautiful Kashubian porcelain has decorated the tables in many real Kashubian homes until the present day. To find out how colourful and decorative it can be, and how many shapes the masters of ceramics are able to achieve, one should visit the Necel Kashubian Ceramics Museum in Chmielno. In this special museum, everyone can see how the process of creating vessels from clay, and also try their skills in forming pots on the potter’s wheel and look inside a huge kiln in which vessels are fired. And all these attractions can be found in the very heart of Kashubia …