Gzhel Blue fairytale of Russia. About thirty villages located southeast of Moscow produce pottery known as Gzhel. The earliest mention of Gzhel was found in the will of Ivan Kalita of 1328. Gzhel was later mentioned in the testaments of the other princes, and in the will of Ivan the Terrible of 1572-1578 period. Gzhel has always been famous for its clay. Wide production of different varieties of Gzhel pottery began from mid XVII century. The great Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov, appreciated Gzhel clay: “There is hardly a ground in the world so clean and free of mixes, that chemists call virginity, it is clays for porcelain used in Gzhel, which I have seen nowhere”.
By 1812 there were 25 plants producing Gzhel dishes. Among them were the most popular plants of Yermil Ivanov and Laptev. Well known masters of Gzhel were S. Gusyatnikov, Ivan Nikiforovich, Ivan Kokun. Besides dishes, Gzhel masters made toys in the shape of birds and animals and decorative figurines on the theme of Russian life. Brilliant white horses, riders, birds, dolls, miniature dishes painted in purple, yellow, blue and brown colors in Gzhel style. The paint is applied with a brush. The motives of this painting is decorative flowers, leaves and grass.
After 1802, when light gray clay was found near the village of Minin. Since the second half of the 20-ies of the XIX century, many painted products were only blue.
Around 1800, in the village Volodino, brothers Kulikov found white porcelain mass, the first Porcelain Factory was based. Pavel Kulikov, its founder, learned technique of making porcelain, working at a factory in the village of Perovo. Wanting to keep the secret of porcelain making, Kulikov did everything himself, with only one worker. According to the legend, G.N. Khrapunov and E.G. Gusyatnikov secretly entered the Kulikov studio, sketched furnace and seized samples of clay, then opened their own factories.
The second quarter of the XIX century – the period of highest artistic achievements in Gzhelian ceramic art in all its branches. In an effort to obtain a thin earthenware and porcelain, the owners of production constantly improved the composition of white mass.
From mid XIX century, many Gzhel plants were in decline, and the ceramics industry was concentrated in the hands of Kuznetsov. After the revolution the Kuznetsov factories were nationalized. Only since the mid XX century Gzhel begins rebuilding crafts, noting its recent 650th anniversary.
Igor Belkovsky, a member of Painters Creative Union of Russia and International Painters Confederation, born in 1962 in Chelyabinsk.