About Us

Porches Pottery is a small pottery in the Algarve region of Portugal. We are a team of artists that have been hand painting ceramics for over fifty years. Visit us to discover locally made ceramics, find the perfect gift, see pottery being painted, and stay for lunch at our café. 

Porches Pottery Team

Where will I find you?

The Porches Pottery is a pottery workshop in a traditional farmhouse just outside the tiny village of Porches. We are in Portugal’s most southerly province, the sunny Algarve. We are open to visitors all year and when you visit our pottery, you are likely to see us painting pots. We have a beautiful café in our garden too, called Bar Bacchus, where you can enjoy a light lunch surrounded by amazing tile murals.

A picture of the Porches Pottery in the 1970s

When did it all begin?

Porches Pottery was founded fifty year ago in 1968. It was the vision of two renowned artists, Patrick Swift and Lima de Freitas. They saw that tourism was bringing great changes to the Algarve, and in the tumult the ancient artistic traditions that they loved were being lost. As artists, they felt they had to do something and they decided to start their own pottery.  Amazingly, neither man had ever thrown a pot in their life! Swift later wrote that their idea to revive the local potting industry was ‘so foolhardy that, looking back on it, I do not know how we had the temerity ever to start.’

Lima de Freitas and Patrick Swift

Thankfully, they did start, and went on to train dozens of ceramists, and along the way they invented a whole mythology of designs and motifs inspired by the cultural heritage of the Algarve. You would never have imagined then that half a century later Porches Pottery would be the hub of a ceramics revival in the Algarve with a worldwide following.

If you would like to know our history in depth, our book is available here.

Who are we today?

We are a team of artists and artisans who make, glaze, and paint brightly coloured pottery. We were all taught to glaze, paint and fire pottery here at Porches Pottery. The pottery is also a family business and we work together under the direction of Estella Swift Goldmann and Juliet Swift, the youngest daughters of the pottery’s founder, Patrick Swift. Both women are gifted painters in their own right and they lead us artistically and in business.

We are a little community, and most of us have been working and painting at Porches for decades. We are all good friends, in fact many of us are related! We have the shared aim to preserve and continue in the traditions, and in the spirit, that Patrick and Lima first envisaged.

A pot being hand glazed

What do we make?

Together we create high quality, handmade, hand glazed, hand painted pottery and tiles. We use the majolica technique which is more than a thousand years old.  In practice, this means we take the handmade red clay pots of our potter, we hand dip them in a white glaze, then we decorate them free hand by brush before we apply a final transparent glaze. We load the pots into our kilns, and a few days (and a little over a thousand degrees) later, our unmistakable, colourful pottery emerges.

Carmo Santos painting a bowl

This is an artistic activity that creates intriguing and unique ceramics. Each painters’ brushwork is unmistakable in their work, like a signature. In fact, you would recognise a painter by their brushwork, just as easily as you could recognise them by their voice. This only happens because we don’t use any tricks or shortcuts, we paint everything by hand without stencils, sponges or transfers. This is a human process and each hand painted pot or tile is a little work of art. That's not to say that our pots are not absolutely functional, they are made to the highest standards and you can use them with complete confidence. 

Learn more about our process here.

A kiln being unloaded

Visit a working pottery workshop on your trip

If you visit our shop you will discover our little world of pots and tiles, and most likely, you will see pottery being painted. You might fall in love with something you see, and start your very own collection of Porches Pottery, joining generations of collectors around the world. After that, you might like to have lunch at the Bar Bacchus café in our charming gardens.

We are proud to have been given TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ every year since 2016, based on the reviews and experiences of our visitors. We have also received their newest accolade, the ‘Traveller’s Choice’ award.

Get directions here.

The interior of Porches Pottery

Welcoming the whole wide world on the world wide web

We still exhibit most of our work in our shop at the pottery in Porches, but we are thrilled to welcome more and more people through our website. In recent years, we have been selling our work online and now we send pottery all around the world, securely, safely and in good time.

The challenges of running a genuine craft business in the modern world are many. Our website is one answer to some of these dilemmas. We have launched this brand new website, which we hope you find to be easier to use and more up-to-date. We have introduced a Special Pieces selection to our site that better captures the wide variety of completely one-of-a-kind pots and tiles we make. And, we now share our work regularly on social media, like Facebook and Instagram. All of this helps to keep the sailing smooth when hard times hit and allows us to connect with an exciting new world of customers and collectors.

A large dish with three fishes painted on it

Whether you find us online or visit us in person, we hope that we can help you to begin your own collection Porches Pottery, or find a special gift for a loved one, but most of all we just hope you enjoy discovering our work.