Emaischen in Luxembourg

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A small Luxembourg town popular among potters will come alive with the sound of hundreds of tiny birds this Monday.

No, it is not a twee remake of Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds but an artisanal festival known as Emaischen.

According to tradition, each year on Easter Monday Nospelt's crafters sell tiny earthenware bird whistles, or Peckvillercher. Each potter producers their own unique models, providing a fantastic array of colours and tunes.

What makes them all the more special is that every model is lovingly hand-made and some Peckvillercher, like those produced by Keramikfabrik, help support worthwhile charities.

Autisme Luxembourg

The Keramikfabrik pottery workshop, located on the grounds of the Kulturfabrik, in Esch-sur-Alzette, is one of a handful of social projects run by Autisme Luxembourg to provide work and training for Luxembourg's 3,000 autism sufferers.

Social worker Joelle Hippert told wort.lu/en: “For our members, this is their job. First they will come for a work placement to decide if they like it and, if they do, they come back. They also need to travel independently by bus to be able to do this job so it's not something that all our members can do.”

The handful of Autisme Luxembourg members who work at Keramikfabrik produce a range of ceramic-ware, including ashtrays, candle holders, kitchenware and vases. However, since January they've been working flat out creating two different kinds of Peckvillercher for the Emaischen market.

Photo: Gerry Huberty

Order for 170 bird whistles

One of the models, a round, playful bird, was designed by an artist, and reproduced 170 times by the team as part of an order placed by Emaischen organisers the Comité Alstad. But, with a number of artists in their ranks, they also produce their own design. This year's is a more abstract, elegant and leggy creation.

“I think that our birds look quite distinctive. They are perhaps less traditional looking than the other Peckvillercher and a bit more abstract,” added Joelle.

With a high level of attention paid to detail, the production line produces some eight models per day. The production is also a lengthy process, requiring a great deal of patience before the final Peckvillchen is complete.

“The whole process takes a lot of time,” said Joelle, adding: “Each time Emaischen comes around they enjoy it but I think they are also happy when it's over because it's a long job.”

Buy a bird whistle on Monday

Keramikfabrik, which opened in Luxembourg in 2000, will sell its produce at the Emaischen markets in Luxembourg City (behind the palace) and Nospelt this Monday.

The charity also produces home-made jams, recycled paper and runs a printing side-line out of its headquarters in Beckerich.

Find out more by visiting www.autisme.lu

Article originally published in 2013