The first time we spotted this workshop from the KTEL car, which we passed by Asomatos. Already at that time, we decided that as soon as we had a rental car, we would have to come to this place. It must be admitted that the Hydria (Υδρία) workshop did not disappoint us, and its owner Stavros Kallonakis turned out to be an extremely contact person who would be very happy to chat with anyone who showed interest in his work.
Stavros Kallonakis at work
Still a live craft is one of Crete's big strengths. Despite the flood of cheap products from China, you can still buy many things that are produced by the hands of local residents. Of course, mass tourism has also changed the Cretan craft, which unfortunately, with not always a good effect, tries to follow customer preferences.
Ceramics from the Hydria workshop, however, should be considered a definitely successful "modernization" of typical Cretan patterns. In addition to the shape and color of glazing, what definitely distinguishes these products the most compared to other pottery plants is the incredible attention to detail and very high quality of finish. Each surface of the finished product (even the one that is invisible at first glance) is thoroughly finished. In ceramics from this workshop, you will certainly not find sharp edges or places that would require improvement. Of course, you can still see that these are things finished with a human hand, not a typical repetitive mass production. However, this is the charm of craft products.
The Hydria workshop also gives a unique opportunity to observe the process of ceramic formation. If you find the right place (it's best to come here in the evening), most likely you will come across a shop before Kostos Nikosoa, who will be sitting at his potter's wheel. Observing his work, you will be much easier to appreciate the quality of his products. It is always worth talking to him about Cretan ceramics, because he is a treasure trove of knowledge on this subject. I am happy to answer all of your questions. With us he shared his knowledge on such topics as: Why only in winter produces more complex forms? What distinguishes his clay from the clay used to create huge pitas in Thrapsano? Why is the Margarites ceramics now of a lower quality?
If you are in the southern part of Crete, especially near Preveli or Plakias beach, we strongly recommend you stop by this workshop. In recent years, our weight limit on luggage has been effectively reduced by ceramics bought in Hydria.
Semi-finished products of the Hydria plant are waiting for firing in the furnace
Encouraging descriptions in guidebooks and the equally positive relationships we have encountered on the internet have made us, when we planned our first vacation in Crete, Kritsa was among those places that we had to see. When we reached the largest village of Crete, we were enchanted by its charming alleys and despite the strong southern sun, we were gladly wading through the thicket of narrow streets and narrow passages separating the next houses. Eventually, quite accidentally, we came to one of the central Kritsa squares, where the Nostimon store is located.
The profession of this 82-year-old Cretan is slowly falling into oblivion and his role is taken over by production lines in factories. Giorgos Chatziparaschos is one of the last producers of confectionery created on the basis of the hand-made filo pastry and its small plant can be visited in Rethymno, for which we strongly urge you.