The handicrafts route
A journey of discovery taking in fine linen and Blaudruck dyeing in the Mühlviertel region, handmade Zille river barges and unique glass art on the Danube, delicious oils and very special works of graphic art. In the south of Upper Austria, we meet a jaw harp maker, visit the Gmundner Keramik manufactory and a hatmaker in Bad Ischl before bringing our tour to a satisfying close at the HAND.WERK.HAUS in Bad Goisern.
The route: Ulrichsberg - Haslach im Mühlviertel – Helfenberg – Bad Leonfelden – Aschach – Wesenufer – Eferding – Ried – Molln – Gmunden - Bad Ischl – Bad Goisern
Fabrics from Leitner Leinen in Ulrichsberg
The first mention of the Leitner family’s involvement in the hand weaving trade can be found in a historical chronicle written some 500 years ago. From then on, the skill was passed down from generation to generation until the family established a linen weaving mill in 1853, which is today renowned for producing distinctive Jacquard fabrics. The company’s in-house sewing studio uses these fabrics to create extraordinary home textiles, ranging from elegant table and bed linen to special one-off pieces.
Oils from Mühlviertler Ölmühle
Upper Austria’s oldest – and recently renovated – linseed oil mill has been grinding seeds and producing high-quality oil for more than 600 years. Flax, which is the source of linseed oil, among other products, has been grown in this region since the 13th century.
Another attraction not to be missed in the town is the Haslach Textile Centre, home to an impressive exhibition on the long history of linen production in the Mühlviertel and the region’s textile heritage. Major international symposia on textile culture are held here every year, and the Weavers’ Market attracts visitors from around the world.
Quality linen from Leinenweberei Vieböck in Helfenberg
Vieböck, the oldest weaving mill in the Mühlviertel, has been making high-quality cotton and linen fabrics and stitching them with care since 1832.
The company offers a wide product range, from tea towels, hand towels, bath towels, sauna towels, linen shirts and linen tops to bread bags, table linen, bed linen, curtains and much more besides. Vieböck is the world’s only linen weaving mill to have been awarded the (GOTS) and IVN Best organic quality labels.
Indigo dyeing at Blaudruckerei Wagner in Bad Leonfelden
The ancient craft of Blaudrucken, or indigo dyeing, has come close to extinction in German-speaking countries. Together with a handful of fellow dyers in Austria and Germany, Blaudruck Wagner has dedicated itself to preserving this age-old tradition. Visit the Wagner workshop in Bad Leonfelden for an immersive introduction to the art of Blaudrucken.
Feichtner glassblowing workshop in Aschach
Thom Feichtner’s customers have been marvelling at his lovingly handcrafted glassware for over 30 years. By using borosilicate glass as his base material, which is extremely robust when in use due to its chemical composition, the artist’s glasses are dishwasher safe as well as being resistant to acids and heat.
Traditional barges at Zillenbau Königsdorfer in Wesenufer an der Donau
The Königsdorfer family has been building Zille barges, typical of the Danube Valley, since 1820 and theirs is now one of the last remaining businesses practising this craft. Around 80 authentic, handmade Zillen leave the workshop every year, some with traditional oars and others powered by modern motors.
Edible oils from Ölmühle Raab in Fraham in the district of Eferding
Christiane and Thomas Raab run an organic farm in the middle of the Eferding Basin. The farm turns 100 per cent organic seeds, sourced exclusively from Austria and mostly from the local area, into high-quality cold-pressed salad and cooking oils. These include sunflower, linseed, soyabean, hemp and thistle as well as rapeseed, camelina and nut oils.
GIESSEREI craft centre in Ried
In 2020, the historic Hofmann Haus in Ried – a former pewter foundry – was transformed into the Haus der Nachhaltigkeit und Regionalität to promote sustainability and local products. The team behind the project is now focused on ensuring that what is on offer in the centre is in line with sustainable principles and business practices that are compatible with the well-being of future generations. Oskar Pointecker’s Ideen Kunst Druck Werkstatt, where creative ideas combine with sustainable solutions to create unique artworks, is one such example. The expert letterpress printer and graphic artist has a talent for using simple brush strokes to put his ideas on paper in the form of anything from one-off greeting cards to framed prints. What’s more, even his printing presses, which are more than 100 years old, operate sustainably using muscle power alone.
Jaw harps in Molln
The Schwarz family began producing jaw harps in Molln in 1679. The business has been in continuous family ownership for 13 generations. To this day, it still produces top-quality jaw harps and exports them to appreciative musicians in more than 40 countries around the world, along with tuned bells, ocarinas, flexatones and panpipes. A member of the lamellophone family of instruments, the Original Schwarz jaw harp produces a mystical and unique sound and is played by people of all ages.
Gmundner Keramik manufactory
The first documented reference to Gmundner Keramik dates to 1492. Located in the town of Gmunden, it is now the largest ceramics manufactory in Central Europe and has established itself over the years as a name that’s truly synonymous with the finest Austrian tableware. It therefore stands not only for tradition, but above all for an unrivalled passion for traditional craftsmanship. Every product that leaves the Gmundner Keramik manufactory is a one-off, crafted and painted by hand and as unique as the person who buys it. The signature “green-flamed” design is unmistakable and has become famous all over the world. “Pottery flaming” was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2021.
Bittner hatmakers in Bad Ischl
Much has changed since the Emperor of Austria commissioned his hunting hats from Bittner senior. And yet some things have remained the same: the hat-making workshop still produces stacks of Original Ischler hats, which have made a name for themselves all over the world in the intervening years. The hat-making workshop, founded in 1862, has now been passed to the fifth generation and is guided through changing times and fashions by Kathi Bittner.
HAND.WERK.HAUS in Bad Goisern
At a time when recognition of the importance of sustainability is growing, skilled crafts are coming to the fore once again. The town of Bad Goisern on the northern shore of Lake Hallstatt is renowned for its tradition of craftsmanship. Leading examples include the famous hand-sewn Goiserer shoes made by Philipp Schwarz in his workshop, Karina Wimmer’s soap-making business, the AnnaMax mustard factory and the violin maker Mizzotti. With exhibitions and a permanent showcase of its member companies spread over three floors in the listed Schloss Neuwildenstein in the centre of Bad Goisern, the HAND.WERK.HAUS is the place to discover everything there is to know about the region’s artisanal crafts.