Borodino, Bessarabia Pottery (earthenware
In Borodino, ceramic potters were called Haefner (from Hafen=Topf),
who produced various ceramic domestic untensils/containers as earthenware
[versus wooden domestic utensils/containers as “treenware”].
In our era (1810-1940) in Borodino, any intellectual inquiry of
historic pottery, as whether band or coil ceramics of a prehistoric
era was an unknown curiosity. These were important utilitarian vessels
for daily domestic use. In Borodino, earthenware potters produced
functional utensils necessary for their ethnic German household,
(usually using faster-skilled “wheel-thrown” cylinder
technique, much preferred over coil-built technique.
The early arrival and particular origins of ceramic pottery production
in Borodino village is vague. A resident potter family trekking
from Poland had settled originally in Kloestitz, before re-establishing
in Borodino. Members of the Frey family (Wilhelm, Gottlieb (son),
Adolf (grandson), Eduard (grandson), Reinhold Reinhardt (brother-in-law
of Gottlieb) and Johannes Reinhardt (Reinhold’s brother) practiced
ceramic pottery vocations in Borodino, according to Hugo Haefner.
Haefner also names Philipp Stauber and his son Martin as potters.
These men must have apprenticed and journey-mastered these skills,
before emigrating to Borodino from Germany, although no oral or
written documentation is available. This information fragment from
Haefner still stands verified as correct, since a Stauber was residing
in Borodino. Christian Hoeger was a potter only a brief time.
Raw material for pottery production is clay with special variations.
In Borodino, clay was called “Letten”. Kaolinite, the
basic substance of clay, is also the important component of “Kaoline”,
also a necessity for fine porcelains. The distinction between “letten”
and kaoline is the purity difference in kaolinite. Letten is premeated
with impurities of ferric oxides, quartz, feldspar, and coarse rock.
After “bisque-firing”/intense baking, the porous earthenware
shows their common rusty-pink color from ferric oxides. However,
many impurities are mechanically removed from “sledge”
sediment. Producing earthenware’s desirable “clay body”
is achieved in the following phases: 1) repetitive kneading of letten
material with water in a pliable stiff dough; 2) frequent kneading
for removing coarse impurities; 3) forming “centrifugal-thrown”
cylinders/bowls/crocks/jars on the potter’s wheel; 4) air-drying
completed forming of clay items; 5) a “bisque-fire”
baking in a wood-fueled kiln/oven; 6) after cooling, apply a wood-ash
slurry glaze by dipping or brushing; and 7) after drying, a second
intense baking in the kiln, called the final glaze-fire. The work
skills of a potter can only be briefly sketched. For further information,
read the documentary report of Hugo Haefner in the Heimatkalender
During my school-days youth, I was allowed by the Frey family to
watch at their workshop the various processes to produce this earthenware:
bowls, plates, cups, wine jugs (for drink in the barley and wheat
fields), flowerpots, milk pots, cream pots, and canning-preserve
jars. Other potters are presumed to have a similar selection. The
women filled their purchasing needs for earthenware directly with
the producer potter. The surplus inventory was displayed at the
trade market by the potter himself to sell merchandise there.
According to material and technique, pottery is related to the
manufacture of baked clay bricks or cinder blocks, called “bricks”
in Borodino. Thin contoured glazed ceramic bricks became inter-locking
“roof tiles”, which often replaced thatched roofs on
the village’s farmhouses. Bricks (mauerziegel) were not produced
as building material in Borodino, despite a large common need. Foundations
were laid of roughly hewn sand stone, before erecting rammed-clay
walls or “batzen” blocks/clumps of sun-dried clumps
of clay and straw. “Batsen” is a distinctive adobe block
manufactured by ethnic German settlers.