For many art pottery collectors, Ohio is the place to go when they’re looking to learn more or expand their Roseville Pottery or Rookwood Pottery collections, but that’s not to say other regions of the country don’t have a lot to offer collectors. When you think of the south, odds are, it’s George Ohr, also known as the Mad Pottery of Biloxi and of course, the renowned Newcomb Pottery out of New Orleans, that come to mind.
But what do you associate with art pottery makers west of the Mississippi and specifically, Colorado? Van Briggle Pottery is one of those timeless names, forever associated with the best in American art pottery, but this wasn’t the only company in Colorado. In fact, Denver China and Pottery opened its doors within a few weeks of Van Briggle’s opening. What’s so interesting is the influence this company had within the art pottery community. So influential was Denver China and Pottery, the decision makers with Weller Pottery had considered relocating to the area after seeing the beautiful creations coming out of Denver China and Pottery.
William A. Long, who founded the highly respected (both then and now) Lonhuda Pottery, also founded Denver China and Pottery in 1901. If it was regional authenticity he was aiming for, he succeeded. He was committed to using materials, including clay, found only in Colorado.
Denver China & Pottery markings
There were two especially notable glazes used in the company’s wares. At that time, Grueby had seen great success with the matte green glaze it had perfected. Proof of that success and timeless quality is found in modern day. Odds are, you have something in your own collection that incorporates that rich green glaze. Once people realized that not only was Denver China and Pottery a force to be reckoned with, but that it was also giving them what they wanted, the company’s success soared. The matte glazing efforts were paying off.
There was one more glaze technique used by Denver China and Pottery. It was luminous, elegant and even suggested a fragility not seen in other pottery collections. The iridescent glaze was incorporated with great success and because of that, it remains popular within the pottery community.
If you’re not familiar with this line of American art pottery, the story is fascinating. Some of the works are on display at The Smithsonian National Museum. Also, if you live in or will be traveling through Colorado, be sure to explore “Colorado Kilns,” an exhibit running through October 1 at the Colorado History Museum. This is an annual conference, so if you’re unable to attend this year, it would make a great vacation for next year.
As always, we’d love to see photos of any Denver China and Pottery pieces you may own.
For avid Roseville Pottery collectors, it’s near impossible to discuss the logistics behind the beauty in the Earlam line without mentioning Frank Ferrell. He was, after all, the creative force behind many Roseville lines – including Earlam. Part of our ongoing appreciation for this particular line isn’t so much what it offers, but rather, what it doesn’t offer.
Unlike many – if not most – of Roseville’s patterns, Ferrell opted to not include florals or the geometric shapes that were trendy at the time. Instead, you’ll find softer lines, plenty of curves and bulbous centers. Many of the pots and vases also had tell-tale handles on either side that collectors are always searching for, even today. The Earlam shapes are limited, especially when compared to some of the other Roseville pottery lines. It has just 22 shapes and most are vases, bowls and pots. While there are none with floral decorative elements, there are a few strawberry and crocus pots, which add further distinction.
For those who appreciate the more muted glazes, Earlam is for you. The efforts made to ensure each piece was unlike any other, in sort of an “imperfectly perfect” way, were subtle. The rims also offer an interesting dimension as most are ridged with a slightly darker tan or brown. There’s something really special about this important Roseville pattern.
The green shading, with its matte finish, coupled with the soft yellow that transitions to deeper yellow-gold colors play off of the other for a truly visual appeal that brings artistry to new levels. Keep in mind -though these were the two primary hues, you can find Roseville Earlam with shades of blue and brown. Ferrell knew he was on to something and fortunately for us, there remains a decent amount of Earlam pieces that can be found today – though it’s unlikely anyone who has any part of this collection would ever dream of parting ways with it.
Aside from occasional bevel, or “ridging” efforts, this collection is beautiful because of the simplicity. It’s allowed to be appreciated for those two primary colors – green and yellow – and, of course, the abundance of space in the bowls and vases. Why Ferrell opted to forego the “tried and true” decorative path is not known, but the Roseville Earlam line stands on its own and remains in big demand.
In 1940, the film Rebecca, which starred Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, became an unexpected success. It’s likely because it revealed the darker side of the human condition. There’s one scene in particular where Fontaine’s character, the very young and new wife of Olivier’s Maxim de Winter, has come to live in Manderley, the massive mansion where the first Mrs. De Winter dies. Intimidated by the housekeeper, the bride accidently knocks off the table and breaks a beautiful pottery sculpture. For years, in my mind, the housekeeper became enraged because it’s a Roseville Pottery Cosmos pattern that was destroyed. Of course, there’s no reason to really believe that, it’s just that 1940 was also the year this exceptional Roseville
Roseville Pottery Cosmos
pattern was released. No doubt, 1940 was the year for spectacular artistic efforts, whether in film or American art pottery.
Roseville Cosmos offers three base colors, blue, brown and green. While many are drawn to those green hues, blue seems to be the color of choice and has been for many years. It could be the matte appearance or the way the pale flowers look against the blue. For those lucky enough to have a collection that includes all three standard colors, you know well the commanding presence of this particular Roseville pottery line. There’s also a slight bit of mystery associated with Cosmos: nailing down the actual number of shapes can be a challenge. There are some vintage advertisements that make mention of 48 shapes; however, if you plunder the Roseville factory pages, you’ll find 45.
What makes Cosmos so special are the notched elements often found around the rims. They provide an unexpected dimension which shows beautifully when on display. In fact, if you’re just now discovering Cosmos, don’t underestimate the importance of a neutral background. It highlights those notches, as evidenced in this image of a tan pitcher. As a fan of raised decorative elements, there are plenty in this collection. You can see the efforts made by the artists and as far as many are concerned, these are the details that really separate the masterful artists from the novice.
This really is a great line, especially if it’s a versatile collection of shapes you’re looking for. The wall pockets and window boxes seem to always be in demand, but it really comes as no surprise to anyone who adores the Roseville Pottery Cosmos pattern. Don’t forget to check out the Just Art Pottery Pinterest page, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, too.
It’s always fascinating to learn about a company’s inner-workings, and especially if an otherwise successful company hits a speed bump. It tells much about the heart of the company: the one who’s making the decisions in order to get it over the speed bump. Roseville Pottery is no different.
During one of those proverbial “speed bumps” in the early 1950s, Roseville Pottery made the decision to introduce a new line to
sort of spruce things up. Instead of sticking with the tried and true combinations of years earlier (something most savvy business owners would do), the decision makers instead elected to introduce a couple of new lines. Enter Roseville Raymor and its young and slightly less traditional artist, Ben Seibel. His efforts included a more expensive glaze, an entirely different manner in which each piece was “power pressed” and more than a few setbacks, especially when it came to expensive repairs to the kiln. In fact, some accounts show that up to 25% of the production efforts during these days were lost because of the mechanical problems.
Still, Seibel remained determined and consistent. He had an image in his mind of how this particular line of pottery would fill a much needed space within Roseville Pottery. It was all about a contemporary flair. In fact, for me, it’s easier to picture the various artistic efforts from this period into how they would fit into those amazing stages of homes that were so popular on television during that time. The high gloss, the slight tip to abstract and the deep vessels were something you might would find on an old episode of Betwitched or maybe I Dream of Jeanie – right during that television transition from black and white to color. The vibrancy of the blues and greens and even pinks – they’re all remarkable and used in all their glory on these sets. If he felt the heat from the cost of producing Roseville Raymor, it’s a shame because it’s one of the more decorative patterns within the entire Roseville Pottery collection.
Most people equate American art pottery with those names from Ohio – Roseville Pottery, Rookwood Pottery, Weller, Owens, Zanesville Stoneware and even McCoy. When you think of southern influences, it’s likely the first, and perhaps only, pottery maker that comes to mind is Newcomb Pottery, created at Newcomb College in New Orleans. But there’s far more to be loved and appreciated from artists of the south. Some say you can smell the salt air in each piece as much of it was made along the Gulf Coast, including both Newcomb Pottery and, of course, those incredible, though eclectic, creations that bore George Ohr’s mark.
Nashville Art Pottery created an avenue or stage for students in the Nashville School of Art. Headed by Bettie J. Scovel, who’d
Newcomb Pottery (courtesy of Getty Images)
been trained by some of the best of the best Rookwood artists, she returned to her Nashville roots in order to share her love of clay and the magic that comes when an artist’s hands shape the clay into something spectacular. It was the late 1880s and upon her return, she quickly secured what was then known as the McGavock building and set out to bring the artists alive inside her students. Before the decade was up, there would be two lines of Nashville Art Pottery released, including Goldstone and Pomegranate. Both were high fired wares, though Goldstone was notably darker with rich browns and deep red hues while its counterpart, Pomegranate, included lighter colors, including a typical white base with pink and blue elements. Unfortunately, Nashville Pottery didn’t become as well-known as those in Ohio, but the fruits of hers and her students’ hard work can be found in Trumbull Prime Collection of The Art Museum at Princeton University.
Around this same time, George Ohr, the famous Biloxi, Mississippi artist, and Joseph Meyer (yes, that Joseph Meyer) decided to fill a void left by the bankrupt Louisiana Porcelain Works in New Orleans. They created New Orleans Art Pottery. The building they chose was an impressive three stories. Soon, the two artists secured the necessary kiln and began producing, for a very brief time, their version of porcelain ware. Unfortunately, there wasn’t room enough for New Orleans Pottery and the exciting new Newcomb Pottery, so its contribution was quite limited. Before long, Meyer would find his way to Newcomb Pottery, where he left his life’s work for many future generations to admire.
From Ohr to Meyer to Scovel – and many more, the south was the birthplace for beautiful American art pottery designs.