Today’s Top 10 List is the ten most influential arts and crafts pottery makers.
1. Grueby – It is fairly easy to make the argument that Grueby was the most important producer of arts and crafts pottery in American history. Grueby’s organic matte green has been copied from the beginning days of the Arts and Crafts Movement and remains the standard to which many contemporary potters strive. Notable imitators of the Grueby Pottery matte green glaze were Hampshire, Wheatley, Merrimac, Teco, Rookwood, and the Zanesville area potteries.
2. Newcomb College – The arts and crafts pottery produced by Newcomb College has been a favorite of pottery collectors for many years. Newcomb was a true arts and crafts pottery where each vase was hand-thrown and hand-decorated. Flowers, landscapes, and bayou scenes are the predominant designs on Newcomb Pottery vases.
3. Rookwood – One could easily make the case that Rookwood produced the highest quality American art pottery. Rookwood’s production standards and quality control were second to none. Often what is considered average quality for Rookwood Pottery would be considered exceptional for Roseville, Weller and other makers. Throughout history, Rookwood easily embraced and excelled at producing art pottery consistent with the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts Movements. The primary Arts and Crafts lines produced by Rookwood are the hand carved and painted matte lines.
4. Teco – Teco’s matte green pottery has set the standard for the Prairie School branch of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Teco’s geometric and architectural vases are the perfect compliment to Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie or Mission style homes. Unlike Grueby and Newcomb College, Teco pottery was primarily molded rather than handcrafted.
5. George Ohr – George Ohr is considered by many art pottery enthusiasts to be the most significant potter in American history. George Ohr pottery has increased significantly in value over the last several years with better Ohr vases selling in the low six figure range. George Ohr reproductions and reglazing of bisque vases and bowls has become increasingly prevalent in today’s art pottery market.
6. Marblehead – The simple forms and pleasing matte glazes make Marblehead pottery an ideal decorative addition to Arts and Crafts interiors. Decorated Marblehead vases are highly sought after by collectors. At one point, a 7" Marblehead vase with stylized flowers held the record price for arts and crafts pottery sold at auction. Even Marblehead’s production pottery was of high quality. Marblehead was truly a small studio pottery typically employing only a half-dozen or so workers.
7. Van Briggle – My personal favorite, Van Briggle produced some of the best arts and crafts pottery around. Consistent with the Arts and Crafts Movement, Van Briggle utilized organic designs and natural earth tone colors. Similar to other American art pottery makers, quality at Van Briggle deteriorated after 1915. However, it is still possible to find quality arts and crafts style vases produced in the 1920s period.
8. Weller – The early, hand-decorated pottery vases produced by Weller compare very favorably with that produced by Roseville. While Frederick Rhead was the leader at Roseville, Weller Pottery was blessed with the services of Jacques Sicard who developed the Sicard line. Other notable Weller designers and decorators include Frank Ferrell, Levi Burgess, Frederick Rhead, Hester Pillsbury and many others.
9. Roseville – Roseville pottery has the largest collector base of any American art pottery maker. The most recognized hand crafted, arts and crafts Roseville pottery includes Della Robbia introduced by Frederick Rhead and Fujiyama created by Gazo Fujiyama (Fudji). Frank Ferrell is another recognized Roseville designer.
10. Saturday Evening Girls (SEG) – The story behind the Saturday Evening Girls Club is almost as interesting as the arts and crafts pottery and certainly adds to its charm. Handcrafted SEG pottery was often decorated with farm animals or simple landscape scenes.
Greg Myroth – Just Art Pottery