Arts and Crafts in Slovakia – Tinkering

June 23, 2015

It was a perfect weather to do some sightseeing around Bratislava so I went to Devin castle to take some new photos. Devin is one of the most visited Slovakia castles. This beautiful ruin is located approximately 10 km away from Bratislava, on the confluence of the rivers Danube and Morava.

Wire – Art and Craft

Walking towards the castle entrance I met a very interesting gentleman. It was Mr Vlado who, together with his wife Erika, have a stand there and, right in front of you, make very interesting little pieces of wire art. I was very surprised to see that somebody in Slovakia still does this old art.

Tinkering is an old craft and started in Slovakia in the mid-15th century. Vlado told me how tinkers lived and worked in Slovakia. The reason for developing this craft was using pottery in old village households. Covering pottery with wire net gave it more protection and durability. Slovak tinkers did not have their workshops; they mainly wandered throughout Slovakia, but also across the world. They carried their work tools – wire, pieces of sheet, pincers, hammer, and some of their products in special wooden backpack-like cases. They came into towns offering their services or sat on the side of the road close to the town entrances, waiting for the people who wanted to have their pottery protected with the wire net or their old metal vessels mended. But they also produced decorative pieces of art. They were very skilled and on their way to work they got as far as to China.

Drotár Devin FUJI 012 Drotár Devin FUJI 002 Drotár Devin FUJI 009

One of the very interesting things which Vlado told me about tinkers was how they used to stick metal objects together. As there was no glue at the times, tinkers always had some reserve of grain in their bags, since they made glue of it. They masticated the grain and this matter, mixed with the saliva, was a glue ready to be used. The matter was then spread onto the two flat metal parts, which needed to be stuck together, and pressed. When the fixed pot was first put on the fire or into the oven, the matter between the metal parts melted down and was then let cool down. After the matter solidified it did not melt down again when the pot was used but worked as a perfect glue.

However, Vlado and Erika do not mend pots. They produce little and medium-size pieces of wire art. This work is very demanding; even a little piece takes a few hours to make, sometimes even half a day. That is because although special gloves are used during work, the wire sometimes injures the fingertips and then it needs a couple of days for the wound to heal.

If you want to visit Bratislava and see the work of a real tinker and hear some interesting stories about this old art and craft, come and visit Devin castle or choose one of our tours that include Devin castle. Vlado and Erika will be happy to tell you about tinkering in Slovakia and I will translate it all for you. Of course, if you like their works, all of their products are also for sale for reasonable prices.

Have a great day folks and don’t forget: Visit Bratislava – Visit Slovakia