Vasylkiv Majolica is a classic of Ukrainian pottery and ceramics.
Although the name “Vasylkiv majolica” and the factory that produced it appeared relatively recently, in 1928, the technique used by artists is actually ancient. The best examples belong to the times of Kyivan Rus’, from the 10th and 11th centuries. This is really an authentic Ukrainian technique of hand painting on clay, which developed and became widespread throughout Ukraine. There are similar elements in neighboring countries, but they never became a separate art form.
This technique is called flyandrivka. What is it? It is a technique where the artist paints a piece of raw clay that has not yet been fired, not with paints, but with liquid clays (engobes), either of natural colors or slightly tinted with natural pigments. Despite the apparent simplicity, this technique requires masterly skill. The piece is rotated on a potter’s wheel. The artist must choose the perfect moment, when the clay dries out enough that it can be written on, but is not completely dry. Engobes must be selected and prepared in advance; there can be no sketches or outlines on the ceramic with this technique, the drawing is only in the artist’s imagination. The item must be painted very quickly, since both the engobes and the base dry swiftly. There is no room for errors. It is most difficult to paint plates: the final design resembles waves, the sun, or other patterns which cannot be reproduced a second time. The painted vessel is placed in a kiln, and after firing, dull colors acquire a bright, saturated hue. Choosing dishes made in the Vasylkiv majolica technique, for a souvenir, you can be sure that you are holding in your hands a unique piece of art.
This article was published in the book Interesting Ukraine.
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© Sky Horse Publishing House (Kyiv) / Nahs Haus, 2019
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