Pottery

One of the most ancient crafts practised in Sifnos from the early Cycladic period all the way to the present day is pottery making.

The development of pottery Sifnos is mainly due to the abundance of refractory clay (a product of the breaking down of schist rock), mixed with the availability of rainwater, suitable fuel, and a mild climate, as well as to the exceptional dexterity and skills of the Sifnian potters in the art of processing the clay, which has been passed from generation to generation through the centuries. Thus over time the adjective ‘Sifnian’ came to mean a person practicing the profession of a ‘tsikalas’ (a Sifnian word for potter), ‘aggeioplastis’ (pot-maker or potter), or ‘kanatas’ (pitcher or jug maker).

The location of the workshops, with the other necessary facilities (kilns and so forth) and the storage areas, is linked to general historical circumstances. When piracy plagued the Cycladic islands, the potteries were located inland and production was sufficient to meet local needs. Later, when the dangers disappeared, especially after the establishment of the free Greek State, potters brought their workshops to the coastal areas, where there were more suitable conditions for the practicalities of their profession and also better opportunities to develop export trade beyond the island. Because the distances from the inland village settlements were great, the potters remained all week at work and returned to their homes on Saturday afternoons. They would leave for work again on Monday mornings.

During the peak of the pottery industry, there was a division of labour in the workshops; the production process involved a ‘kladas’ (who gathered wood for the kiln), a ‘homatas’ (who collected the clay), a ‘moularas’ (who transported the clay by mule to the workshop), a ‘kopanistis’ (who prepared the clay for throwing), the master potter and his assistant (the ‘basperetis’).

Some of the Sifnian potters moved away to nearby or more distant islands, as evidenced by the place names that have been carried to many of the Cycladic islands, bearing witness to the settlement of the Sifnian potters. They also developed their activities in various areas of Attica on the mainland, in particular Maroussi, Halandri, and Agia Paraskevi, and some also migrated abroad.

Today the pottery workshops of the island make household items for cooking or storage. Characteristic are the ‘mastelo’ (a large baking dish for preparing the traditional meat dish of the same name in wood-burning ovens) the tsikali, jugs, the brazier, the KOUROUPOU the jar, Armeos and most characteristic of all the ‘flaros’ (clay chimney). Alongside the traditional items Sifnian potters also produce decorative objects, and are always experimenting with new forms and new colours.

There are 19 pottery workshops on the island.

Name Location Telephone
Yiannis Apostolidis Kamares (Kamaron Street) 22840 33721
Antonios & Yiannis Atsonios in Vathi, at Tsopou 22840 71119
Giorgos Atsonios at Diavroucha, on the road to Herronisos 6972 073594
Vasilis I. Depastas on the road to Herronisos 22840 33418
Kostas Depastas Herronisos 22840 33121
Giorgos Exylzes Kamares 22840 33044
Antonis K. Kalogirou at Artemonas, in Agia Anna 22840 33090
Antonis Z. Kalogirou Kamares 22840 31651
Katerina Kalogirou Kamares 22840 31683
Yiannis & Nikos Lembesis at Artemonas, in Agia Anna 22840 32010
Alexandros Lemonis Platy Gialos 22840 71362
Frantzeskos Lemonis Platy Gialos 22840 71203
Kostas Mamidas on the road to Platy Gialos 22840 33738
Flora Markou at Vathi 22840 71116
Yiannis Narlis Kato Petali 22840 33909
Yiannis Podatos Kamares 22840 32349
Nikos Raviolos at Artemonas, in Agia Anna 22840 33755
Lambros & Antonis Skandalis at Petsi, on the road to Herronisos 6974 420413
Aggeliki Jouli Tzanni Katavati 22840 32267