The white gold of the Westerwald …


Although you are probably more familiar with it in blue-grey! We are talking about clay. The soil of the Westerwald boasts the largest and best quality clay reserves in Europe. So it is hardly surprising that there is a tradition of pottery here. Business was booming until the middle of the 20th century. Although, or maybe because, the heyday of the ceramics industry is now long gone, the Kannenbäckerland region still provides plenty of opportunities to discover just how the clay is turned into a range of ceramic products. 

Traditional stoneware is formed on the potter's wheel at the Girmscheid pottery, Westerwald

Traditional stoneware made of clay is shaped on the potter's wheel, Westerwald

Employee of the pottery Girmscheid examines the traditional salt-glazed stoneware, Westerwald

Production of traditional salt-glazed stoneware in the Girmscheid pottery, Westerwald

 

But let’s start at the beginning. Westerwald clay is still very desirable, especially in fine ceramic products. It has a uniquely fine and elastic composition, making it perfect for artists, potters and the ceramics industry. There are still eight clay pits extracting the material in the Westerwald today. There are also opportunities to get a close-up look at an open-cast mine, where you can admire the massive craters and different layers of soil on the edge of the pit.Or have a look at the great drone footage here.

Ceramic artist Susanne Boerner moulding a clay figure in her workshop, Westerwald

Artist Susanne Boerner moulding a ceramic figure, Westerwald

 

In Kannenbäckerland, there are lots of ways to find out how the soft natural material is transformed into crockery, works of art, jewellery and decorations. The Girmscheid pottery in Höhr-Grenzhausen, for example, is one of the few still producing the traditional blue-grey salt-glazed stoneware. A guided tour of the works allows you to observe the potters at work. The whole range is available to admire or purchase in the factory shop. When the market for the traditional stoneware dwindled, many manufacturers looked for other niches. From everyday designer ceramics including wonderfully delicate, modern-looking crockery, bowls, vases, plates, etc. to ceramic jewellery and all sorts of artistic creations ranging from the avant-garde to the naive. There are numerous workshops where you can watch the artists at work and find out just how interesting and varied ceramics can be.

You can also get an excellent overview at the Keramikmuseum Westerwald. It is one of the largest ceramics museums in Europe and showcases the fascinating connections between art, traditional crafts and regional history. You can see examples of nearly everything made from clay in the past and the present . The Keramikmuseum is also completely accessible to disabled people and wheelchair users.

The European Ceramics Market in Höhr-Grenzhausen is also a highlight. Around 150 exhibitors from all over Europe showcase everything modern ceramics has to offer in a market area extending some 500 metres. As well as everyday pottery and decorative ceramics, you will find salt-glazed stoneware, ceramic jewellery and much, much more, all related to the white gold of the Westerwald. How about a visit and a souvenir to take home with you?

Colourful vases are exhibited in the ceramics museum in Höhr-Grenzhausen, Westerwald

The ceramics museum presents a variety of exhibits, Westerwald

Ceramic objects are handmade and artistically refined by potter Susanne Boerner, Westerwald

Ceramic objects are handmade and artistically refined, Westerwald

Pottery in the Westerwald


At the end of his eventful trip through Rhineland‑Palatinate, Martin Seidler arrives at the raw beauty of the Kannenbäckerland in the lovely Westerwald. Clay has been shaping the life and works of the specialist potters and creative craftsmen here for more than 7,000 years. It is an ancient art that is still mostly hand-crafted to this day. Machines do not help much with delicate work. The video shows you how the typical blue colour of the Westerwald ceramics is made.

More cultural travel highlights and activities in the Westerwald


Westerwälder Kannenbäckerstraße - Auf der Spur des "weißen Goldes"

easy

72,3 km

1:05 h
The circular route "Westerwälder Kannenbäckerstrasse" is 66 kilometres long and takes me once right…

Wäller Tour Brexbachschluchtweg (round tour - premium hiking trail)

hard

16,4 km

5:00 h
The certified premium hiking trail Brexbachschluchtweg leads 16.4 km from Grenzau through the wild…

Burg Grenzau

Höhr-Grenzhausen On a rocky ridge above the Brexbach valley, Burg Grenzau rises into the Westerwald sky. The castle ruin is the only castle in Germany to have a…

Europ. Keramikmarkt Höhr-Grenzhausen

12.06.2022

Höhr-Grenzhausen Around 150 carefully selected ceramists from all over Europe, who produce…