The art of wickerwork in Poland

Wikliniarstwo w Polsce

The process of creating wickerwork has changed little from the times when people lived in pyramids; however, the production of wicker has been perfected and new technologies have been introduced, which allow for the creation of products of everyday use as well as those that serve as exhibitions in many galleries, since wicker is also presently used in the creation of works of art, modern monuments, and as elements of expositions. The best period for wickerwork in Poland was the 1920’s decade of the interwar period. This was a time when our country was a leader in the craft of wickerwork.

Presently, Nowy Tomyśl and Rudnik nad Sanem are among the leading centers of wickerwork. Nowy Tomyśl is characterized by boggy terrain in the Obra river-basin. Before it became a leading center of the wicker industry, it was overgrown with rich willow thickets, which in time came to be a wonderful supply of raw weaving material. The introduction in 1885 of the American variety also helped growth of Nowy Tomyśl’s wicker industry. The high quality of this new variety immediately took control of the market and forced all other varieties out. Rudnik was also covered in wild willow thickets. When the new American variety made its way there, that caused the owner count Ferdynand Hompesch to invest in basketry. Thus, in 1878 the first basketry school was founded in Rudnik. After WWII basketry expanded; it encompassed lands such as Giżycko, Brzeg nad Odrą, the area around Żywiec, Nowe nad Wisłą, Solec Kujawski oraz Biłgoraj along with many lesser regions. However, to this day the greatest basins remain the area around Rudnik and Nowy Tomyśl.

In time, basketry schools begun to spring up in Rudnik, Kwidzyn, and Skwierzyn among others, however only Kwidzyn’s technical school of basketry is the only one that remains to this day. Aside from this, elements of basketry are taught at the Folk University of Lesser Poland (Małopolski Uniwersytet Ludowy) in Wzdów and in the High School of the Arts in Kazimierz. When it comes to the illustrious representatives in the field, the works of people like Władysław Wołkowski, Professor Jędrzej Stępak, and Stanisław Dziubak are among the best.