She almost makes it look easy.
In a video posted to Facebook last year, a woman paints a dish on her pottery wheel, creating hypnotic patterns as it spins. Without hesitation, she dabs on new colors and shapes, sometimes while the wheel is still whirling. It’s wonderfully satisfying to watch — no wonder it’s been viewed more than 1 million times.
The unnamed artist is practicing a centuries-old style of Bulgarian ceramic decorating called Troyan pottery. Shot by Washington-based ceramicist Sean Forest Roberts on a visit to Bulgaria, the video shows the skill required to produce a classic Troyan pattern.
The Troyan decorative style makes use of a rainbow of colors to create lushly patterned plates, bowls and other vessels. Instead of depicting objects like plants or animals, Troyan artists prefer repeating geometric shapes and lines in their work.
Here’s that video!
Tucked into a corner of Eastern Europe, bordering Greece and Turkey, Bulgaria’s culture is a bit of a melting pot (pardon the pun). Influences from its neighboring states, plus the former Soviet Union, mix with Bulgaria’s own ancient traditions.
You can sometimes see the influence of these different cultures in Troyan pottery designs — parallel lines and patterns similar to Grecian design, cooking pots shaped like little Eastern Orthodox onion domes. The ceramics are popular with tourists looking for a long-lasting memento of their adventure.
This Instagram traveler must have made quite a haul after visiting a shop in the town of Troyan:
Fortunately, you don’t have to fly to Bulgaria to score some of their lovely pottery. Handmade Troyan-style ceramics are available for purchase online — no passport required. eBay and Etsy have a good selection at different price points; a few other retailers pop up, too, like Bulgarian Ceramics, Ltd., and Bulgar USA.
Now we just need to find some Bulgarian recipes to cook in our Bulgarian pots! Kapama, anyone?