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How I became a ceramic artist – Part 1

 It was a lovely day, that Saturday, 2 weeks ago. Together with my wife Kremena and my brother Cvetelin (odd name, huh?) we made the decision to make a trip to Stara Zagora, a city which is around 140km from our town and to visit a  temporary exhibit there called “Prehistoric Thrace 6th. - 3rd Millennium B.C.“
Sgraffito pottery shard, 4100 BC
Carved pottery shard, 4500 BC

3. Terracotta mold for making oil lamps 220-250 AD
4. Terracotta oil lamp, 220-250 AD

All 4 pictures from the collection of the Stara Zagora's History Museum

We had a really great time in the museum, I can tell you more about it someday, if you are interested, but the main reason why I mentioned this trip is that it reminded me of one of the main reasons that I became a ceramic bead artist - my deep passion for ancient and pre-historic art.
5. Sgraffito pottery shards, 1250-1300 AD, our backyard
Here is how my story began – from my early school years I loved to make small things from clay and plasticine; and later on wax, which was probably my absolute favorite.  In high school I was studying wood carving for 2 years, so I became pretty familiar with the basic carving techniques and tools. At the same time my fascination with history and especially, with archaeological artifacts was growing with each visit to an archaeological site or museum.
Another completely different interest of mine was chemistry.  Mostly because I was charmed by the magic of fire. The almost magical high temperature reactions between the metals and non-metal elements still fascinate me.  My last 2 years in high school were dominated by hesitation about what I wanted to do, what kind of career I should start working on?  I suppose this sounds pretty familiar for most of you :-)
 In 1989,  after I finished high school, I finally made a decision and started studying education at the Veliko Tarnovo University, bearing in mind that there was a sub department “Fine and Applied Arts”.  At the same time, I started my own research and experiments in the area of reproduction of archaeological artifacts from different epochs, using different materials and techniques.
6. My set of “Stone age style” bone tools
7. Making an exact copy of a “pintadera"
8. Firing the pintaderas
9. Ready fired pintadera and a plasticine imprint of it

Can you guess what I found waiting for me on the crossroad between the art history and chemistry during this researches? Yes, you are right – the ceramic art was waiting for me there, with all the unlimited shaping and decorating techniques, with all the different clays and unlimited palette of colors, with the excitment of opening each kiln firing, and the promises for even greater miracles in the next one.After I finished with my MA in Pedagogic, Fine and Applied Arts in 1994 I started work as a teacher in the primary school. Teaching had its great moments, and it had its bad ones, but it was far from satisfying for me. My desire for independence was also inspired by the traditions in my family, especially the ones that come from my mother's side. From what I saw in the family tree they were craftsmen for centuries – black smiths, carpenters, wood carvers, silversmiths. My Grandfather was a very skilled blacksmith and carpenter. So maybe my passion for creating a life based on things you make with your own hands came from there. I quit my job as teacher in the year 2000, and up to now I'm full time self-employed artist. It looks like my ceramic "passion" was very "infectious" - my wife Kremena got the "clay bug" from me soon after we married, she started making pots and other objects in 1997 - 1998, and in the year 2001 she ended her teaching career too.  That was the official beginning of "Golem Design Studio.

I hope this post was not too long or boring, in the next posts I'll concentrate on some specific details of our work which will probably be more interesting. Questions and suggestions will be highly appreciated.

Have a wonderful week!
Golem Design Studio

1 - Carved pottery shard, 4500 BC, Stara Zagora History Museum
2 - Sgraffito pottery shard, 4100 BC, Stara Zagora History Museum
3 - Terracotta mold for making terracotta oil lamps, 220-250 AD, Stara Zagora History Museum
4 - Terracotta oil lamps, 220-250 AD, Stara Zagora History Museum
5 -  Sgraffito pottery shards, 1250-1300 AD, our backyard
6 - My set of “Stone age style” bone tools, they was made specially for the "Pintaderas restoration" project.
7 - Me, making an exact copy of a “pintadera”, a clay stamp from the late neolithic period, 8000-7000 BC
8 - Firing the pintaderas – open fire in a small pit, our backyard
9 - Ready fired pintadera and a plasticine imprint of it


  1. Wonderful and fulfilling story. You have so much to give, I'll read all your posts with lots of joy.

  2. Fascinating reading Vlad. I love learning about how an artist gets started and their inspiration. Welcome to the BOC Bloggers Writers Team. I know we are going to enjoy each and every post you write.

  3. What a great story! I love reading how artists got started. Love your work!

  4. Happy to hear your story Vlad. Looking forward to more about you and your wonderful little works of art!
    And how fun to hear you and Kremena are a team in work as well. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Great article! I am right there with you in loving the pre-historic pieces, you are talking my visual language!


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