Ribnica Handicraft Centre
The Public Institute Ribnica Handicraft Centre, Cesta na Ugar 6, 1310 Ribnica
Telephone+386 (0)1 836 11 04
The Public Institute Ribnica Handicraft Centre brings together three well-established organizations - the Museum of Ribnica, the Miklova Hiša Gallery and the Museum Shop - as well as a new area, which was likewise developed from the long-standing tradition of Ribnica and its surrounding area: handicrafts (Handicrafts Section). The range of products and services offered by the Institute is extensive and diverse and suitable for different target groups, for both pre-school and school groups, as well as other visitors, researchers, curious individuals and creators.
The Handicrafts Section within the Ribnica Handicraft Centre
The cottage industries that the Valley of Ribnica is best known for are woodenware making and pottery, which boast a tradition of several hundred years. The making of »Ribnica Woodenware« is one of the oldest and at the same time a very unique cottage industry. The local people being very close to nature, the abundance of forests and people's resourcefulness have all contributed to the emergence and development of the cottage industry as it is known today.
Simple domestic products were no longer used in local people's homes only and were brought into the world after the Austrian Emperor Friderick III had granted the inhabitants of the Kočevsko region and the Valley of Ribnica the so-called Peddlar's patent, whereby people were given the right to free trade in these domestic products. The emperor granted this privilege in order to provide the people who were not so well off with an additional source of income.
The people of Ribnica and the area surrounding it took advantage of this privilege more than anyone else and took the woodenware and the pottery into the wide world.
The wooden ware of Ribnica is constantly adapted to the market, new technologies are introduced and new products are developed, all of which results in products that are really useful and of high quality; tradition however remains an important part of it and the people of Ribnica are proud to share their ware with the world. To preserve the tradition of woodenware making and to make it more recognizable in the market, the woodenware-making region in 2004 acquired a geographical designation with the name »Woodenware of Ribnica«, whereby the artisans and their products were protected. The artisans have remained active in all eleven woodenware-making branches up to the present day: side-rim making, bottom making, sieve making, vessel making, tool making, wickerwork, spoon making, hand joinery, wood turning, toothpick making and souvenir making.
Pottery is predominantly made in the south of Ribnica Valley, in the villages of Prigorica and Dolenja vas, in the so-called 'Lončarija', the pottery-making area. The best-known pottery product is the Ribnica whistle, also humorously described as »the horse whose bottom whistles«.
Available products, services, exhibitions and events:
Demonstrations of individual woodenware and pottery-making processes are available at the Ribnica Handicraft Centre Public Institute, where local artisans take visitors through the captivating processes of creating wooden products. Another unforgettable experience is available for visitors: by prior arrangement they can have a go at making one of the cottage industry products themselves, under the supervision of a mentor, one of the artisans.
Visitors can also use the opportunity to be taken to craftspersons' homes, where they will learn about the artisans' skills, have a look around their workshops and get to know their proverbial wit, typical of this region.
Since 2011, a wickerwork and pottery school has been one of the regular educational programmes organized as part of the Ribnica Handicraft Centre. The programme, as part of which new generations of wickerwork masters and potters are trained, is divided into three years and is taught by local craftsmen, craftsmen from other parts of Slovenia and industrial designers.
At the Handicraft Centre, visitors can also have a look at the exhibition Keeping in Step with the Time. The exhibition is divided into eleven different sections and presents the contemporary woodenware production, which is based on the geographical indication 'Ribnica Woodenware'. With this exhibition the Ribnica Handicraft Centre aims to promote the making of products of high-quality and modern design, as well as strengthen product marketing and promote the makers. Visitors can also have a look at the masterpieces made of carved wood (wooden hats, string instruments etc.) and traditional regional pottery products and contemporary ceramics. Since this is not a conventional museum presentation, visitors are guided through the exhibition by the witty comments. The exhibition is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue available in English, German and Italian.
Both pottery and woodenware products are also available at the museum shop of the Handicraft Centre.