Written by Tereza Golcakova
Learn more about Tupesy Ceramics
Tupesy ceramics are a traditional folk ceramics crafted in the Tupesy village, which is situated in the east of the Czech Republic, in the Moravian region. The Tupesy ceramics is made manually on a pottery wheel and then decorated with designs typical for Moravia. The pottery is decorated on an unfired layer of glaze with five basic colors: red, yellow, blue, green and brown. The traditional Tupesy Ceramics are decorated with brushes with the motif of a red rose, which is inspired by the Haban Pottery.
The origins of pottery in Tupesy
The oldest archaeological findings of pottery in Tupesy date back to the 10th century. At those times in Tupesy there was made mostly so-called black pottery that was unglazed. The biggest fame of the Tupesy Ceramics came with the arrival of incomparably younger colorful ceramics called majolica (pottery covered with glaze and decorated), which was brought there by Jaroslav Urednicek at the beginning of the 20th century.
Jaroslav Urednicek and his ceramics
Even though Jaroslav Urednicek came from a family of potters, he studied engineering. After finishing his studies he was changing jobs very often, until 1909 when he purchased a brickyard in Tupesy and settled there. At first, he was making bricks, but soon he became interested in ceramics making. In 1914 in Hodonin he did a pottery course, which was focused on basics of jug making. This course was intended to help renew the traditional craft of majolica ceramics making in Moravian Slovakia (Slovacko). Jaroslav Urednicek was mostly interested in Haban Ceramics designs. This type of ceramics came to Moravia and West Slovakia from Germany and Italy thanks to the Anabaptist who were creating it there in the years 1534-1685. He refined their designs, added red color to them and added a motif of red rose, which is now so typical for Tupesy Ceramics.
After finishing the course Jaroslav Urednicek established his first workplace, which he named The First Moravian-Slovakian Ceramics of Jaroslav Urednicek. At first, he was not very lucky, since he was not very fond of working with the pottery wheel and his works tended to fall apart. He also was not very successful with glaze making, which turned pale every time he fired it. It did not take a long time, and he mastered the techniques. He was then able to mix himself not only the glaze but also the colors. He engaged most of his 22 children in the family business. The boys made the basic pottery, which then had to dry for four up to seven days. After drying, the pottery had to be fired in a kiln at approximately the temperature of 1652-1742°F. After two days the kiln was opened and what followed was painting by the girls. They covered the pottery in glaze and then painted it with colors. Firstly with yellow, then with blue and then it was contoured with black color. The red color remained encountered. Last to be applied was green, transparent color. Applied colors were gray until the pottery was fired again. During this firing colors merged with the glaze and became bright. The clay they used for the pottery was from a location near Tupesy, which they owned. The approximate consumption of clay per year was 50 kg. The colors they used they bought from Germany because the local colors were not good quality as the ones from Germany.
Eventually a small workplace turned into a big successful workshop and their ceramics were sold almost worldwide. They had orders coming from Germany, Japan, Sweden, America, England, France and even India. In 1925 Tupesy Ceramics was given a diploma at the Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which took place in Paris. The successful growth of Jan Urednicek’s workshop was interrupted by the economic crisis. The production had to be lowered, because there were almost no sales and there was not enough work for all the employees. His sons Oldrich and Svatopluk traveled through Bohemia, Moravia and even Slovakia with their pottery wheel to show their crafting art. In 1935 things took a turn for the better and the turnover was rising. Son of Jaroslav Urednicek, Oldrich, took advantage of this favorable situation and founded his own ceramics business in Tupesy. Although it did not take long and there were not enough orders for both of the businesses. In 1947, they agreed to merge their businesses into one.
Tupesy Ceramics today
Today, the tradition of Tupesy Ceramics still continues, thanks to a few family businesses that continue in the tradition of their ancestors. There is also a Tupesy museum, which is situated directly in the Tupesy village and where you can learn everything about the history and tradition of this ceramics.