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Štefan Zelko's Pottery

15. 8. 2014


Kľúčové slová


Jar making

Geografická oblast



The clay is dug in Puconci. It is then stored at Štefan Zelko’s home in a so-called zemeljak. The needed amount of clay is ground several times in a compressing machine. Then it needs to be pressed and kneaded manually in order to squeeze all the air out of the material.

At least, half of the production time is spent by preparing the clay. However, the quality of the finished product crucially depends on the preparation of the clay itself. Modelling the lump of clay on a potter's wheel follows. The amount of clay laid on the wheel depends upon the size of the end product. Felting is used while modelling the inside of the pottery, whereas an ultrapas is used for the outside to make the finished product smooth. When the desired shape is achieved (pisker (for water, wine), dugi lonec or pisker (for milk), tèpsija, sklejca, pütra, bidrača, krpnjača, motivnica, okrogla modla, láboška, solenka etc.), it is coated in clay paint and decorated (zigzag, undulating lines, serrated lines). The pottery is first dried in a plain air. After 3-4 hours of drying frills such as handles and thumb crosspieces for wine jugs are added to the pottery. Then Štefan Zelko finishes the piece by adding a signature fingerprint on the lower end of each handle. The pottery is then arranged into a potter's furnace for the first or biskvit firing. The following day it is taken out of the furnace and wiped. The next step of the process is glazing. One can either glaze the inside or the outside with a ladle or by dipping specific parts into the glazing. The glazing can also be traditionally decorative: sprinkled onto the pottery with a brush or by hand. Afterwards, the pottery is placed into the furnace again. With evenly spread oak logs in the inside of the furnace, the pottery is warmed up lightly and then fired with pine and spruce logs. After one to two days, it is taken out again.

Locality Prekmurje plain, Goričko, Lemerje
North-eastern part of Slovenia
Time All year round
History (cyclicality) Approximately since 1980
Organizer Štefan Zelko
Realisation team Štefan Zelko, and also his wife and children support him.
Target group Students at workshops, tourists, exhibitions in museums, galleries, fairs.
Traditional culture elements The process of making pottery is manual. The kiln is self-made (also a black kiln), pottery is formed and decorated in a folk manner.
Ethnographic criterion Pottery is a part of regional identity, although it is dying out because of its economic uselessness in an era of cheap plastic and hi-tech nano-materials.
Environmental criterion Pottery was always a well spread folk craft in Prekmurje, because of its geographical circumstances, namely a presence of clay in tertiary hills. Nowadays, pottery is dying out.
Cultural-historical criterion Štefan Zelko belongs to the tradition of well known Zelko's potters from Pečarovci. Village Pečarovci is a traditional pottery village. Pottery has been practiced for the last 130 years.
Aesthetic criterion Traditional folk forms of pottery and ornaments are primary and organic.
Ethical criterion An absence of outer motive (like tourist trade). An economic purpose is substituted by playing.
Psychological criterion Traditional pottery in this region of Slovenia (Goričko) is dying out nowadays. Štefan Zelko feels an emotional obligation to his family to perserve an old tradition.

Photos by © Siniša Borovičanin


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