Matej Stepanek Karel Stepanek Josef Stepanek Karel Stepanek Josef Stepanek
* 1772 +1861 * 1834 +1914 * 1866 +1928 * 1910 +1993 * 1904 +1984












Being a potter and making good crockery is not an easy thing. It requires much experience and practice. In pottery, practical experience is passed down from generation to generation and it was the same in the Stepanek potters family.


1901 1939

Great-grandfather Matej Stepanek already worked in this profession at the end on the 18th century. Grandfather Karel Stepanek, born in 1834 started with the manufacture of crockery in Kasejovice, using white clay, fired at a temperature of up to 1300 degrees C. At that time, this was a great advance and the crockery sold well. That is also why Grandfather taught his four sons the pottery craft. One of them, Josef Stepanek, born in 1866, earned practice in various pottery shops. In 1891, he left for America, where during the next six years, he gained much experience. When he returned, he worked for his father for several more years. In 1900, a new pottery shop was built, which he bought a year later.

In the area of Hrdejovice, there is much clay of various quality and that is why he visited the State School of Pottery, in order to better access the analysis of clays. With year long practical experiences, he came up with his own method of washing and mixing several types of clay. When his older son Josef, having completed apprenticeship, was at the State School of Pottery in Bechyne, Hrdejovice pottery was already in great demand for its fineness, which is reached only through washing and longevity of cooking which is a result of the correct composition of clays.

After completing economic school, his younger son Karel was also apprenticed as a potter. When their father died in 1928, the business already had experienced successors. Both brothers, by introducing machines for processing clay, perfecting production and constant trials, created crockery which resists high temperatures without cracking.

The crockery is under the registered trade mark

In 1950, nationalisation came. The small factory with 23 employees was taken away from the owners and became the co-operative Jihotvar - Veseli nad Luznici. The former owners remained employed in the factory, Josef as an artist and Karel as a salesman. They had to, however, repay debts for the newly built areas realised before nationalization from their wages. Later, Karel was only allowed to work as a manual worker in the joined cement plant. After a few years, he returned to his beloved pottery clay in Hrdejovice as a manual worker and stoker of the kilns.

The sons of both brothers continued in the tradition and studied the School of Pottery in Bechyne. After 1989, Karel, now by himself, requested the return of the entire former property within the frame of restitution. By that time, the co-operative had expanded the enterprise by building halls on the former, and newly purchased property. The old buildings were partially torn down and the remaining ones were expanded. Unfortunately, the law of restitution was very poorly solved and allowed for various interpretations. A conflict ensues and the Jihotvar co-operative was unwilling to give up the factory. After five years, the court decided to give up the old buildings. But without the property. Mr. Karel Stepanek did not live to hear this verdict.

His son Josef and grandson Petr, who was apprenticed to the craft by his father, continue to devote themselves to pottery production in their studios in Prague, and thus continue in the tradition with already the sixth generation of pottery Stepaneks. 

Karel Stepanek 1990.