Hand-painted treasures abound in Bolesławiec

Hand-painted treasures abound in Bolesławiec

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

Gravy boats, butter dishes, bowls, vases and more in creative, colorful patterns await your discovery at the multitude of Polish pottery shops in Bolesławiec. This small Polish town, located just past Dresden over the border, is home to over 20 pottery manufacturers who share their beautifully handmade items with customers who flock to their doorsteps. The pottery, a symbol of Poland, is perfect for gifts, displaying as a work of art or using as your everyday dishware. Pick a date and get ready to shop until you drop!

Pottery

The pristine pottery, lovingly decorated in gorgeous hues from all colors of the rainbow, isn’t easy to make. In fact, the process is pretty labor intensive. The products have to be hand molded from local clay and then fired in a kiln. It is then cleaned, hand-painted and decorated by a talented artist. The piece is finally glazed and fired in a kiln, which takes several hours. The final products are made to withstand the oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher. Each piece of pottery comes with a quality rating (Gat), varying from one to five. One is the highest quality and means the piece has no imperfections. Two means the piece may have a slight imperfection in the painting, but is still safe for the oven, etc. Three is an indication that there is a crack in the glaze. Four is a chip in the pottery itself. Five means the piece, while potentially still quite beautiful, should be used strictly as decorative.

Though there’s an abundance of stores to choose from, a good place to start is Andy. It’s a bit out of the way from the other stores, so it’s a good place to start before you head to a more central location. Get ready to do some digging, as this location groups its items by style (cups together, plates together, etc.) and not by pattern. You don’t have to work particularly hard to find what you are looking for, though you oftentimes will have to move an entire stack of plates to get to the pattern for which you are searching. There is a large parking lot here and plenty of items for you to ponder over while deciding which pattern is right for you.

Next, head to Ceramika Artystyczna, where you’ll find even more intriguing patterns. This store was home to my favorite pattern that featured polka dots, flowers, a prince and a princess.  Did I need a teapot with a fairytale theme on it? No. Did I need the matching cup and saucer? Also, no; however, it all found its way into my car, along with a few other items to be used for gifts. This store had an interesting configuration, as the front seemed to be organized by pattern, while the back grouped items by style. Think towering stacks of bowls, plates, mugs, and vases perched on top of a shelf just out of reach. There’s plenty of room for parking here. After you are done, walk across the street to a small strip mall that has several more stores and some great discounts, including Vena Ceramika Sklep Firmowy Manufaktura, Tyrcz Ceramika, WR Ceramika and Kalich Ceramics Outlet Store.

Finally, hit up Henry’s. Even though I bought the least here, it was by far my favorite. There was a bargain tent set up outside and the inside was arranged by pattern. No more digging through plates to find the one with a red flower and blue butterfly! Depending on what you are shopping for, this could be a blessing or a nightmare. Once again, plenty of parking and a strip mall with more outlet stores just around the corner.

 

 

Food

Picking out the perfect pattern and sorting through thousands of items is tiring, so be sure to refuel at Opałkowa Chata. This adorable, log cabin-style restaurant is cozy and inviting. It serves fresh food made from local and natural products. For a taste of several regional foods, try the platter, which comes with pork chops, three types of pierogis, two cabbage rolls, potato pancakes and hunter’s stew. Bonus: This food is so affordable that our bill came out to $35 (131.22 PLN) for three people, including drinks.

Lodging

One day in Bolesławiec just isn’t enough, especially if you drove hours to get there or are shopping for multiple days. A great little overnight location is The Blue Beetroot, an 18th century renovated barn filled with chunky wooden beams, vaulted ceilings and handmade furniture. Thank goodness it also has Wi-Fi and running water nowadays! The cozy rooms here are great for groups of friends that want to pamper themselves.

In-room massages, manicures and pedicures are offered here for nothing short of a steal. Manicures are 19 euros and pedicures are 26 euros, while an hour full-body massage with aromatic oils is just 35 euros! Pro-tip: Order your food to be delivered to your room for when your massage ends so that you can lay around in your robe, enjoy a drink and have dinner. Room rates range from 47 euros per night for a single room to 186 euros per night for a large studio that sleeps six people.

Currency

The only time my group of shoppers had to use cash was when we paid the massage therapist at the hotel, and we were able to use euros. Otherwise, swipe that card like you are spending monopoly money! One Polish złoty is currently $0.27.

Now that you’ve got a good idea of what to look for while you are in Poland, gather a group of friends and hit the road! Just make sure you have plenty of room in the car for several boxes of pottery, plus all of your passengers. I highly recommend taking an SUV with an empty trunk, and leaving the kids and spouses behind for their own weekend of bonding time! Bonus points to anyone who can pronounce the name of the town by the time you leave Poland.

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