Wednesday 28 September 2022

Ceramics in Sifnos

Pottery is a thriving industry in Sifnos with countless workshops and small pottery shops across the island. We visited a few, only a small fraction of what there is. Riding on the bus to the villages we would see signs for pottery workshops literally in the middle of nowhere, some of which you could only reach by foot up steep mountain paths.

This rich lineage of pottery on the island can be attributed to the clay-based earth and the copious sun that is around throughout the year. 

When the practices began, potters first worked in the hills to protect themselves from pirates who roved around the Aegean. In the late 1800s, the island's coastline was lined with potteries as the workshops moved down from the hills to the shore. The makers continued the traditional practices that evolved from centuries ago. Their ceramics were exported across Greece, and still are.

Ceramics is so prevalent on the island, that on the beach, together with the pebbles and sea glass you find in 'normal' beaches, there are thousands of bits of ceramic all over, rounded by the constant flow of water: as I tend to collect pebbles and sea glass wherever I go, it seemed only fitting that I should collect some bits of ceramic 

which sit in a ceramic yogurt pot (this is what the yogurt we buy comes in) on our terrace.


We visited two pottery workshops in Agia Anna which is on the edge of Artemonas, but also found some nice pieces in one of the gift shops.

Sifnos Stoneware run by Antonis Kalogiou. Antonis' father was also a potter, as was his grandfather and his father before that. 

The whole of the building is just one room, with the workshop on one end the shop at the other.

A vase where crystalline glaze has been used. Crystalline glazes are specialty glazes in which crystals form and grow inside the glaze during cooling. These types of glaze are very difficult to master as they are highly unpredictable. The process requires special glaze formulas and an intricate and lengthy firing cycle that can last over 20 hours.

A jug in a display case made by Antonis' father.

The Lebesis workshop, Nikolaos and Ioannis Lebesis, a father and son venture.

Don't be fooled by the photograph - this is a huge enterprise consisting of at least 6 buildings. The kilns are huge as is the machine for mixing clay - I was so intent at looking at the ceramics that I forgot to take photographs unfortunately.

The Lebesis ceramics can be found everywhere in Athens and beyond, are very distinctive, and just lovely.

Lebesis also have a shop in Apollonia - see below.

Bairamis pottery:

Maroulenia gift shop:

This is a gift shop that also sells some ceramics. Most of the makers are from Athens but I decided to include it in this post. I bought two pieces and even though she said she would include the maker's card in the bag she did not, so I don't remember their name. I might ring to find out, but probably not before this post is published.


There are apparently many shops selling ceramics in Apollonia but we only visited two.

This is the shop of Podotas ceramics. We also visited the workshop in Kamares which includes a small shop, you can see that below.

This is the Lebesis shop - we visited the workshop in Artemonas and two days later we sought this out.


Lots of ceramics shops here, I guess because it's the port so most people visiting the island will stay or pass from here.

Mamidas ceramics.

My guess is that this is the most popular shop for the islanders because you can see their chimneys and light holders everywhere outside the houses.

A large chimney outside the shop.

Similar in style to the chimneys, these are used for burning candles or other kinds of light - you can see them everywhere in houses' entrances.

A typical traditional Greek bowl

The workshop at the back

I didn't actually go in this shop, just looked from the doorway - the colours made my eyes hurt

Kalogirou ceramics.

The workshop is at the back of the shop and look at the phone and TV control which are on the counter - covered in clay

Podotas ceramics, their shop is in Apollonia.

The workshop is in an adjacent building and next to it, a shed where all the pots are waiting to be glazed

Polytropo ceramics.