Gzhel, a small town in the Moscow region, is the center of the famous art craft in Russia. The so-called Gzhel bush occupies a vast territory and includes 27 villages, the population of which has long been engaged in painting a variety of products from snow-white porcelain and faience. The history of the Gzhel fishery can be traced back to the 14th century, from the very time when a rich clay deposit was discovered near Moscow. The material was heterogeneous: in the upper layers there were layers of a simple red "shirevka", below were layers of pale yellow "furs", and in the very depths there was "soap" - the most delicate white clay, an excellent material for making high-quality porcelain and faience products.
For some time, dishes and other kitchen utensils were made from white clay. Then the tsarist Apothecary Decree appeared, prescribing the shipment of all extracted raw materials to Moscow for the needs of medicine and pharmaceuticals. The manufacture of kitchen utensils had to be postponed, but after a while additional deposits of white clay were discovered, and, thus, there was already enough material for pharmacies and pottery. During the abundance of raw materials, an artistic craft called Gzhel was born.
Gzhel painting, the patterns of which are distinguished by a special style, began to spread throughout Russia. At first, artists used multi-colored paints. Then the Gzhel painting, patterns, the theme of the drawing and the general style changed somewhat. The main color scheme is bright cobalt blue paint. Since then, Gzhel painting, whose patterning is admired by people all over the world, has become a classic combination of two colors - white and blue. Genuine products do not allow any other shades, only in some cases the artist can use gold paint for easy decoration.
The famous Gzhel painting (patterns, ornaments, floral themes and many other things that form the basis of a unique artistic style) developed in the 19th century. In the wealthy houses of Russia, it was considered good form to serve the dining table with dishes made of Gzhel porcelain. First of all, behind this was patriotism, pride in their country. In addition, blue and white plates and tureens were much cheaper than Meissen porcelain.
The images on the products were also exclusively on the Russian theme. Hunting with dogs, dancing at Maslenitsa, religious procession at Easter and many other events of a truly Russian character were depicted on tableware. Thus, the Gzhel painting, the patterns of which were close in spirit to the Russians, became more and more popular.
At the beginning of the 20th century, breeders of the Moscow region made attempts to put the production of white and blue products on stream, but this idea failed. The painting of dishes with Gzhel patterns must certainly be done by hand by experienced artists who are able to put their soul into their work. Mechanical drawing destroys the essence of art, the product becomes faceless.
Gzhel painting, patterns and ornaments, geometric figures or scenes from village life - all this is the result of the creativity of talented artists working at the enterprises of folk arts and crafts "Gzhel bush". The first sign of the artist's skill is the presence of halftones in the painting, when pale blue strokes alternate with bright and saturated ones.
Gzhel painting: patterns
A flower, its delicate petals, a stem of a plant, leaves on thin cuttings ... All this is a classic theme of Gzhel painting. Plants are depicted in a stylized form, but their characteristic features are visible, currant berries cannot be confused with viburnum, and gooseberries cannot be called rosehips, even though all plants, flowers and berries are of the same bright blue color.
A significant part of the products of the Gzhel folk crafts are dedicated to children. These are horses and elephants, donkeys and foals, painted trailers with a small train, cars and airplanes with Gzhel painting. Designs for children are as skillful as for adults, but the artist approaches the work with much more responsibility. After all, a child should not be disappointed in any way. Therefore, artists, starting to paint toys and other products for children, try to do the job as best they can.
In the production associations of Gzhel folk arts and crafts, there are sections for training those wishing to master the art of painting. Future artists take special courses in drawing and technologies for creating famous white and blue porcelain, mastering such a type of folk craft as Gzhel painting. Patterns for beginners are simplified, however, the learning process consists of several stages.
The first lessons include teaching drawing, or rather, drawing the contours of the future image. The strokes are applied with a medium-soft drawing pencil on a Whatman-type paper without pressure, so that you can erase unsuccessfully marked lines with an eraser.
After the outline drawing is ready, you can start coloring. It is better to make a test image with water-soluble paint - watercolor, acrylic or gouache. Any brush is suitable for this, but for a start, you can use the 2nd number. On a separate piece of paper, several strokes should be made in order to choose a blue color that matches the saturation. Then you need to try to draw a flower. If the image on paper is successful, then at the next stage you can start painting the ceramic product.
Variety of pattern
In the database of each Gzhel ceramics enterprise there are plot and thematic sketches, which are used, if necessary, by technologists. Various Gzhel painting, patterns, photographs, drawings, copies - everything goes into action when you need to launch the next series of products.
Authorship products are produced in separate batches, when the products are maintained from beginning to end in the status of exclusivity. Their form is unique, the painting is unique. Such gzhel is highly valued, experts are trying to purchase this particular product. Top-notch products differ from ordinary ones in the detailed elaboration of the pattern. The artist draws the smallest nuances, and as a result, a true masterpiece of the Gzhel folk craft is born.
Recently, a good tradition has appeared - in the Gzhel production, to open a store selling products of local craftsmen. Works of art have become more accessible, the choice has increased. Large enterprises in the Gzhel industry have set up the production of super services, similar to those supplied to the imperial court in the 19th century. Former generations remember tableware sets of 120 or more items. There were also smaller sets for 12 people out of 84 items. And very small, for two, called "Tete-a-tete". There was a service even for one person, a miniature one called "Egoist".
In those early days, a lot of Gzhel products went abroad. The Europeans took out the products of Russian craftsmen in wagons. This went on for quite a long time, until the Russian imperial treasury department became the main buyer of the factory products. A monopoly arose rather quickly, which subjugated the production of Gzhel, and since then all products have been shipped to the Treasury warehouse.
Currently, Gzhel is in demand more than ever. Factories and small workshops are fully operational. All residents of the so-called Gzhel bush are engaged in the production of snow-white painted ceramics.