Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Albanian Pottery

Throwing the clay
Just north of the city of Lezhe, is the small village of Krajen.  If you didn't know it existed you would easily miss it entirely.  With a bit of luck, a few inquiries to the locals, and a couple of right turns followed by a left at the herd of goats, we found the village and its real gem, Krajen Pottery.

Painting the design
This small pottery factory was founded in 1994 by Italian priests who took advantage of the skills they had learned in their home country and the abundance of local clay found in their new home to established a pottery workshop.  Today a handful of artists work at the site throwing clay to form an array of beautiful pottery pieces.  The artists make it look so easy.  Under the skilled hands of one artist we witnessed a wad of clay emerge as a vase within minutes.

Pottery drying in the sun
The clay pieces are not kiln fired; rather they air dry in the hot Albanian sun until they are hard.  Next one of three women hand paints the colorful, yet traditional designs onto the pieces transforming them into true pieces of art.  Painting is followed by a glazing that preserves the color and ensures that the end products are food-safe.
Pottery on display
The day we visited their showroom was well stocked with a variety of pitchers, bowls, and plates.  Being a fan of anything olive related, I fell in love with an olive bowl; an item so uniquely Mediterranean that I couldn't resist purchasing one.

An olive bowl
There were several other pieces I coveted but I kept myself in check and only bought a few other small items that will make perfect gifts.

After finding out that they will do custom orders, my mind started racing with all of the possibilities. Custom ordered plates perhaps?  Glenn and I had been talking about how we need to replace our every day dishes which after years of use and moves are looking less than presentable. Perhaps a set of plates that we can have personalized is just the thing.  The problem with customizing is making up our minds about the design and color.  Sometimes having too many options is worse than having none!

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