Tour the Belleek Pottery Factory, Beautiful Pottery Still Hand-Crafted in Ireland

Welcome to the 466th Tablescape Thursday!

While away in Ireland, I created a post sharing a few pics inside the Belleek Pottery Gift Shoppe located inside the Belleek Pottery Factory in County Fermanagh. If you missed that post, you’ll find it here: Shopping in Belleek Pottery.

 

Today, I thought we would go back inside to tour the “factory.” I put factory in quotes because it’s not very factory-like at all. Far from it! Unfortunately, I had trouble hearing much of the presentation and don’t have the greatest memory anyway, but hopefully the photos in this post will give you some idea how Belleek Pottery is made. I was shocked and delighted to discover in the year 2017, everything is still crafted carefully and painstakingly by hand.

This might be a good time to answer a question I’ve been asked quite a bit: if we toured the Waterford Factory on this trip. No, we did not visit the town of Waterford. Our guide told us that Waterford Crystal is no longer made in Waterford, instead, it’s all being made in Slovenia, except for a few specialty pieces like awards, etc…We did see a lot of Waterford Crystal available in the stores throughout Ireland, though.

Below our guide was explaining the process for making the mold for each piece.

 

Belleck Pottery is more than a factory. In fact, it doesn’t feel or look like any factory I’ve ever been in. It’s feels much more like an art studio or perhaps the art department in a large university.

 

 

All throughout the building you’ll find artists working meticulously and with great care on a beautiful Belleek Pottery piece.

 

It was wonderful getting a glimpse of each craftsman at work.

 

You can see the care and pride that goes into each piece of Belleek Pottery.

 

If a piece is found to have a flaw, it’s never made available for sale. Instead, it will be broken and recycled. So you’ll never find Belleek “seconds” available for purchase.

 

It was fascinating watching how the delicate Belleek baskets are made, each little basket strand being carefully laid into place.

 

In this photo, you can see the little individual strands of pottery (on the white board) that are used to make the bowls. Each one of those is placed by hand in a slanted position, overlapping/crisscrossing to create the finished bowl shown below. And oh, my gosh–the process for making each delicate flower…just amazing!

 

Here’s a few finished pieces waiting to be painted/fired and one piece already completed. Love the little floral and butterfly embellishments. No wonder Belleek Pottery is so well-loved!

 

Some finished pieces…

 

This Belleek artist was making flowers in various sizes. You can see some of the flowers on the lamp bases on the right.

 

This artist was hand-painting sweet shamrocks.

 

When the pieces are complete, they are placed on long racks and this large kiln slides on a track over the racks. You can just barely see the shelves/racks on the right in the photo. So instead of attempting to roll the racks into the kiln which could lead to breakage, the kiln slides over/atop the racks of pottery.

 

Here’s a lamp vase before painting/firing.

 

Here’s how it looked inside the gift shoppe where it was available for purchase.

 

A closer view…so lovely! All those little flowers and butterflies were hand-crafted and hand-painted!

 

A few more scenes from the gift shoppe…

 

 

Beautiful!

 

To see the three items I purchased during my visit, check out this previous post:  Shopping in Belleek Pottery. Everything is being shipped and should arrive in 5-7 weeks. I think I know where I’ll be the placing the castle lamp I purchased during this “Deluxe Castle Tour” to Ireland.

 

I’m hoping it will work on the desk here in the office, replacing the one I currently have in front of the windows or maybe the brass lamp near the wrapping paper organizer. If not there, perhaps I can find another location for it in this room. I’d really love to have it here in the office where I spend so much of my day.

Update: Just noticed this lamp is also available HERE and HERE.

 

The little green shamrock vines climbing up the castle should work well with the green floral pattern of the chair in my reading corner. Looking forward to sharing where that lamp ends up, once it arrives!

 

Looking forward to all the tables linked for this week’s Tablescape Thursday!

Pssst: I post almost daily to Instagram. Follow Between Naps on the Porch on Instagram here: Between Naps On The Porch.

Tablescape Thursday

If you are participating in Tablescape Thursday, please be sure to add your permalink below, and not your general blog address.To get your permalink, click on your post name, then copy and paste the address showing in the address bar, into the “url” box when you link up.

You’ll need to include a link in your post back to the party to link up and participate. That’s so visitors to your blog will be able to find the party and the other Tablescape Thursday participants. Requiring a link back also prevents businesses and scammers from linking up to sell their products. (Yup, that really happens, unfortunately.)

Please Note: After 1 week, party links are still available to view by clicking on the blue button below.




 Never miss a Between Naps on the Porch post! 

*Subscribe to have updates delivered to your Inbox. 



Comments

  1. Hi Susan! I’ve been following your amazing trip on IG! Glad you are enjoying Ireland!!! It’s looks so beautiful!

    • Thanks, Rebeca! I’m back home now but it was a wonderful trip. Ireland is a special place, for sure! Have a wonderful Thursday and an awesome weekend!

  2. I’m guessing that the fact it doesn’t resemble a factory contributes to the custom look and feel of each piece. The workers are true artisans rather than people just stuck on a factory assembly line. Gotta love that!!! I didn’t know Waterford Crystal is no longer made in Waterford. I learn something new all the time. Hope your purchases arrive soon…the waiting is just torture!!!

    • Yes, they really are! Apparently, it’s just special custom pieces that are made there now, per our guide. I guess that’s why it’s not on their tour.
      We did go to another crystal factory though and watched an artisan create a piece. It was amazing to watch! We learned that the colored glass pieces are very, very difficult. It’s hard for them to see through the glass to make the cuts really precise…it’s hard on the eyes. So each artisans only makes like 6 pieces a year…something like that. Intense process!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your trip! I’ve always longed to go to Ireland. Ancestry DNA shows 42% Irish and Scottish. I have a few pieces of Belleek. It is so beautiful. I really enjoyed the tour.

  4. What an interesting tour. Everything looks so clean and well organized. Their work is outstanding.
    I love the lamp you purchased. It will look so pretty on the white chest by your chair.

    • Thanks, Anne! I may place it on my desk since I like the lamp I have on that chest, but it could end up there. I just really want to use it somewhere in my office. Actually, not that I think about it, I should probably replace the other lamp in my office, the brass candlestick one. There isn’t any brass in the office…it’s all silver/chrome…so maybe it will go there. Can’t wait until it arrive and I can share how it looks in this room with you! Have an awesome week! The rain has stopped here and the sun is shining…gonna be a gorgeous weekend!

  5. Very interesting post, Susan! What a beautiful workplace! I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this previously but when QVC has their St. Patrick’s Day programming in March, they always offer Belleek pieces. It’s always very tempting to buy them as you can certainly see the excellent quality of each piece. Usually one of the factory representatives appears with the piece being sold and gives great insight in to how the pieces are created. In fact, QVC currently has in inventory a beautiful holly berry basket similar to the ones you show in your post. Now I’m really tempted! It’s a beautiful basket!

    • Really! Didn’t know that! I have to say, once you see how much work goes into each piece and how it’s hand-made, you better understand why it’s more expensive. I’m going to have to break down and order some salad plates one day. 🙂

  6. Margo Kuhn says:

    I have a few pieces of Belleek. I have 8 salad plates, and a cake plate. They are so beautiful and delicate. Since I do a St. Patrick’s Day dinner every year, they work beautifully. Love them.

  7. So much fun to travel “along” with you throughout Ireland! This stop was particularly interesting to me because of the treasured Belleek pieces I have (shamrock candlesticks and salt/pepper shakers) that are put out every St. Patrick’s Day. Hopefully future generations will continue to appreciate this level of craftsmanship. Thank you so much for sharing – can’t wait to see even more of the places you visited!

  8. Jane Franks says:

    That was so fascinating, Susan! I knew about the shamrock pieces, but did not realize they made so many other things. I just LOVE the matching cup/saucer/plate bone china in so many colors with floral designs! Also, by the way, you have a fabulous office!! Wow!! Such a great set up ! I have a similar office suite but the corner piece fits in the corner in such a way that the two “L”s come together at right angles (if that makes sense!), and if I had a piece with the flat front parallel to the corner, it would give me so much more work space, and I love having the computer in the corner, too. I currently have my computer on the left “L” which works okay, but takes up work space room. Hmm! I’ll have to research this!! A great idea!! Jane xo

    • I didn’t know they made the other designs either. I think they call the original shamrock designed pieces, the Classic line. It’s kinda of different having it in a corner, but I really do like it, too. Thanks, Jane!

  9. Wouldn’t it be fun to work in a place like this! You have the best adventures and it’s so nice of you to share them with us!

  10. Hi Susan, thaks for the tour, reminds me of the pottery workshops in Deruta Italy.

    It’s true that the high volume Waterford pieces (glasses, most vases, most bowls etc)are not made in Waterford anymore. However all high end House of Waterford and custom pieces are made in the waterford “factory” which is really an artisan workshop with minimal machinery involved. I bought two House of Waterford gorgeous pieces from the show room. The factory show room took down the SKU numbers of the pieces I wanted then the factory made them for me and shipped them about a month later.

    Belleek china is gorgeous, I should have bought some when I had a chance last fall. I ended up blowing my money on two House of Waterford pieces and a fabulous Irish white damask tablecloth and napkins.

    Thanks for a other great Tablescape Thursday, you take such beautiful photos. XO

    • Yup, our guide told us about that. We did visit another crystal factory and saw how it’s made by hand…truly amazing! Takes sooo many years before the artisans are proficient to make the really expensive pieces…a lot of training!

  11. I love your choice of souvenirs. I love your office and you inspired me to buy a bucket list map. I did have it framed. My bucket list map looks just like yours. I have a question. I have been to Canada and have you been to Canada? Would you clean the whole country off or just a province at a time? I have also rearranged my dishes. It has been a very busy summer.
    Joyously,
    Betty

    • Betty, I struggled when I first bought my map and was scratching off the U.S. I finally decided to do the whole country. It was impossible to find individual states, especially out in the middle of the country. Then I realized, when I visited Kenya, I scratched off that whole country.
      Plus, I would have to live to be 5,000 years old in order to travel to every single city/province/town etc… in every country in the world. If I just make it to a country one time, that’s good enough for me for the bucket list map.
      So, short answer is, I’m scraping off the whole country if I visit there…it’s just too hard to try to find individual cities/provinces, etc… since the map doesn’t differentiate to that level of detail.
      So if I ever visit Canada, I’m scraping the whole country off, just like I did for the U.S. They do make U.S. maps for people who want to keep up with which state they have visited. It shows each state clearly outlined so you can find the state and uncover it on the map. I wouldn’t mind getting one of those, too. They may make Canada maps, too…not sure.

  12. So amazing how they make those open-weave baskets. Knowing how it’s done makes them even more beautiful.

  13. We toured the Belleek factory also. That was a highlight of my trip. It was amazing to see the pride and love that went into each piece. I’m definitely armchair traveling right now. On the day of the eclipse I tripped and fell, breaking my wrist and the top of my tibia! The president of the hospital saw me on a guerney in the ER and had my nurse take me outside to see the eclipse. I had surgery that night to put a plate in my wrist and have to be nonweight bearing for at least 8 weeks for my leg to heal. But it could always be worse…praying for Houston.

    • Dear Roxanne, having recently fallen I can sympathize with you, however, my fall was nothing compared to yours. Prayers that you will have a quick recovery. Vikki in VA

    • Oh my goodness, Roxanne! That’s definitely one day you will never forget for many reasons. How sweet of the doctor to do that. After all that, I’m glad you got to see it! Please take care of yourself! Allow yourself plenty of time to heal. I’m the worse patient in the world, so it would be so hard for me to be patient, but it’s worth it to heal properly.

  14. Becky O'Brien says:

    Susan, we visited the Waterford “Store”, the only place in Waterford that was referenced one could see while in the town. You didn’t miss much, it was like a huge gift shop with crystal, while beautiful and expensive, I had hoped we’d get to see artisans at work. They told us the “process” had moved out of Ireland. Sad.

    • Becky, when did you go to the Waterford Factory? We went in September 2016 and we had a wonderful of the behind-the-scenes workshop tour–from the hand-blowing of the glass to the hand cutting and polishing of the pieces. It was one of the most interesting tours I’ve ever taken.

    • That is sad…thanks for letting me know about your experience when you visited, Becky.

  15. What a great experience to have visited Belleek. This helps people understand why hand-crafted items are priced as they are – they are worth the artisan’s labor. I think your lamp will be great in your office.

  16. Wow!! This is some process- it is so interesting to see how these beautiful pieces come to be. Your lamp will be a wonderful reminder of your great trip!

  17. Charlotte says:

    You are right the Belleek “Factory” looks like an Artists studio. It looks very bright and so clean. I love the basket weave pattern on the pottery. I think I need to get me a piece! I can’t wait to see more about your trip.

  18. What a wonderful factory; it brought me so many memories of my husband’s pottery factory, where I worked for twenty years until he sold it… designing the china wear.
    This is a beautiful place, like a neat studio and it is such a famous mark for dishes and other elements. Love it.
    Thank you for hosting and for sharing.
    Have a terrific trip, don’t need to say so, I guess.
    Fabby

  19. What a wonderful non-factoryesque place! I would say the rooms are filled with talented artisans who demand nothing but perfection. I so love that lamp and that china is gorgeous!! What an experience Susan. I am sure you cannot wait for your pretties to arrive!

  20. Cyndi Raines says:

    Such beautiful work and to be so talented to be the one doing it, wow. The lamp will look perfect on your desk and what a delight it will be to gaze at it and remember all the memories of Ireland.

  21. I would have needed a shipping container. I admire your restraint!

    I could not have left the floral china, in all colorways, and the floral lamp, as well as all the shamrock beauties you got.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, what a feast for the eyes!

  22. I’ve been hoping and waiting on the edge of my seat for these pics! My parents visited Ireland many years ago, and 2 of my boys went a few years ago and NONE of them went to the Belleek Pottery! Say what?!?! lol When you said you were going to Ireland and going to visit Belleek, I knew you would not disappoint with your photos! I really hope to visit one day! Thanks for sharing – I’ve enjoyed so much about your whole trip!

    • Thanks so much, Donna! I’m so glad you enjoyed this tour. It really was inspiring to see how Belleek Pottery is made, hope they never change! I hope you have the opportunity to visit one day, too. You will love it!
      Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment!

*