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  • Writer's pictureKOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH

"Porcelain found me" • Petr Stehlík

Petr Stehlík is a talented artist who dedicated his life to porcelain. Under the Stehlík Design brand, he creates jewelry and home decorations that have been found by many enthusiasts even beyond the borders of the Czech Republic.

Petr continues to surprise with his ideas, whether he is inspired by Japanese traditions and origami or Czech folklore. He also surprised us in the interview with how many Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth products he enthusiastically uses in his work.

Read an inspiring interview with Petr about family business, work, but also education and design.

Hi Petr! Let's start from the beginning. How long have you been involved in porcelain art?

Already in elementary school, I was going to the folk art school for ceramics, it was such a first acquaintance with fine arts. I then found my way to porcelain at a high school in Karlovy Vary.

Why did you choose porcelain among all possible materials?

Rather, porcelain found me. I remember deciding between Karlovy Vary and Bechyně in search of a suitable high school. Both schools had a subject called the artistic processing of ceramics and porcelain. I really enjoyed working with clay at that time, and I felt that this was probably the right way for me.

Eventually, I found myself in Karlovy Vary, where at the beginning of my studies I found out that, despite the name of the subject, the study would focus mainly on porcelain. I told myself that this was not a disadvantage and that I would at least learn to work with material that one would otherwise find very difficult to get to.

It is beautiful to observe your love for this unique, but very demanding material. Who is cooperating with you on the Stehlík Design brand?

Stehlík Design is organised by me and my wife Alice. Together we form a great team. I focus on product design and manufacturing, Alice is great at marketing and sales. Several other people also work for us externally, photographers, graphic designers and other geniuses in their fields of activity. Although they are invisible to the surroundings, their work and especially the fact that they are reliable is irreplaceable for us.

One of your most popular collections are brooches with an origami motif. How did you come up with this idea?

It's been more than ten years. I guess that the idea arose after one debate with my classmates. It matured in my head for a while and in gradual steps I came to the first edition of three animals in origami design. Over the years, we have come up with dozens of different motifs and made thousands of jewelry that our customers like to wear in the form of brooches, necklaces or earrings. I'm very happy about that.

Are you ever inspired by the work of other artists?

The whole contemporary artistic environment is an inspiration for me, it shapes trends and at the same time it forces me to define myself and be different. I really like old works, in which I admire the craft and art of authors, whose names are often unknown. For example, the Museum of Applied Arts in Prague is a great source of inspiration and humility for me. Of the contemporary Czech authors, I have a favorite, Mr. František Skála, whose playfulness and imaginativeness I greatly admire.

For a while, you also passed on your experience to students at art high school. Is there anything you would like to change in education and art?

I will not hide the fact that I do not see the state of Czech education as ideal. Correction contains a lot of small changes, but also the approach between students, parents and teachers. I can only speak within high art schools. Here I would see the availability of professional internships for the teachers as one beneficial change. Due to the fact that time is getting faster and the development of technology is very fast, a teacher who has been at school for several years can gradually lose contact with reality and thus not adapt the teaching to the current situation.

Do you encourage your children to the fine arts?

I don't know if I encourage them directly, but I show them the possibilities and we rather play with creation. Alice and I are some kind of guide, it will be up to them what style they will come into and what will fulfill them.

What art technique do your children like best?

The three-year-old daughter is excited about modelling and painting. Honestly, I can't work in my creation without modelling clay. I use it to model the first prototypes and pre-models. It is also suitable for quick fixation of barriers and formwork when pouring plaster. I've tried many different brands over the years, but the ones from Koh-i-noor suit me best.

We are glad about that! It is interesting how many different products and materials you use in your creation from porcelain. Do you have any other favorite Koh-i-Noor products that you must not miss?

It all starts with sketching designs. I like to use a few hardnesses of pencils, I work with them very well. A crayon is also very useful. I use some pencils and ruddle to mark samples, where I have tested that the pigment does not burn during firing, but on the contrary it fixates and cannot be washed off.

In your work, you deal with the creation of three-dimensional objects. Have you ever realized art on a two-dimensional scale?

Yes, I did, but I gradually limited it to working with glazes. I really enjoy the opportunity to experiment with them. Mixing your own glazes is, in a way, about mathematics and, in the end, excitement, because the color and the final appearance always appear after firing.

It sounds interesting! What are your plans for the Stehlík Design brand in the future?

We are currently working on two new editions, which we are working hard on. We will reveal the first of them on our website before Christmas. From the first sketches, to samples, prototypes, to the final product, packaging design, photography and presentation of the collection there goes a long way. As a result, however, it is worth it, enthusiastic customers who are happy to wear our products are a great reward.

We keep our fingers crossed, Petr, and thank you for a wonderful conversation!



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