The role of ceramic in the Kannenbäckerland cannot be denied. As soon as you leave the highway you see at the roundabout huge jars, vases and pots made out of ceramic. And there are also a lot of every day ceramic objects. House numbers, sign posts, flower pots, sculptures and figures. We have even seen ceramic post boxes.
Today there are not as many potterers – or ‚Euler‘ how they are called here – as fifty years ago. But there is still a noticeable amount of them. Up to 60 kilns existed in Höhr-Grenzhausen alone they say. Today there are few and smaller ones. And they are not fired with wood and coal briquets but with gas or electricity. Some old kilns can be seen at different places in the village. It is quite impressive when you can walk into a kiln and event can stand upright in it.
Okay. Today not as many ceramic is burned here, but there are far more different styles and techniques used. The traditional original still exists though.
Did you know that the stoneware apple-cider jug used in Hesse came from the Kannenbäckerland? Or that many steins used at the ‚Wiesn‘ and Oktoberfests and brewhouses are still produced here?
Totally traditionally made with salt glaze and elaborately hand created. Spun, formed, painted. Each piece will be touched many many times and processed. From different persons. And afterwards it will be burned.
Some pieces are burned twice. It is burnt once and then decorated. Or it is only burnt one time at all. But not like bread or a pizza. The stove will be filled. It is like playing tetris. The pieces are put so that as much as possible fits into the kiln. In former times the pieces have been much bigger. But they have been put as close as possible like today.
For seperating them there are spacers and boards, quarry sand and burning cylinders. Those have holes so that the salty fumes can get everywhere. Each time after a burning the result is a little bit different and a surprise.
That is so nice about handicraft. Nothing is perfect. It is man made and not done by robots. So no piece is identical with another one. It will last longer though. A stone ware flower pot can stay outside even in winter times. A vessel can stand acids. And it can be treated rough. Even if knocked against something it won’t directly spring into pieces.
Besides the traditional forms and decors there are modern varieties. And artistic works. Some spin and some form. There are every day items like plates and cups and there are figures and sculptures. Much is possible with the material clay.
How much is possible you can see when visiting one of the numerous exhibitions, industrial sellings or artist’s workshops. Many workshops are open and you can watch the artists while working. Others have huge exhibition halls but work privately in their workshops.
In any case it is a fascinating material, which will hopefully remain for a very long time.