Of the most ancient arts practiced in Sifnos, since the proto-Cycladic era, is pottery.
The abundance of fire resistant clay (the product of shale erosion), the water from the wells and cisterns, the availability of combustible material, and the mild climate conditions are the main factors that aided the development of pottery in Sifnos, in combination with the skill of the Sifnians in working the clay. The passing of time made the name “Sifnian” synonymous with the profession of pot-maker, potter, or jug-maker.
As far as the geographical location of the workshops is concerned, and the necessary auxiliary and storage areas required, everything is connected to the broader historical conditions. When piracy was the scourge of the Cycladic islands, pottery workshops were in the interior of the island, and production was enough for local needs. Later, when the danger disappeared, and especially after the foundation of the free Greek state, the potters moved their installations to seaside locations, where they could ply their trade as well as have the opportunity to develop export trade. Given the great distances from the central villages, potters remained in their workplace all week and went home on Saturday, to leave again on Monday morning.
In the glory years of pottery, the workshops worked under a system of division of labour, with a branch-man, a loam-man, a mule-man, a beater, a master and an assistant (called pespretis).
Due to the abundance of labour, the potters were led to seasonal migration to islands close and far, as is evident by the names surviving in many Cycladic islands, which show the seasonal habitation of Sifnian potters.
Sifnian potters also moved and plied their trade in various areas of Attica, such as in Amarousion, Chalandri, Agia Paraskevi, and others, as well as abroad.
There are currently 20 pottery workshops, most of which are family businesses. Useful items are manufactured in these potteries, for cooking or storing food (mastelo and tsikali pots, jugs, foufou earthen brazier, armeos milking pot, jars, cups, plates, and others) whose usage has gone beyond the confines of Sifnos and the Cyclades, while simultaneously with traditional shapes, Sifnian potters create decorative objects, trying out new forms and new colours.