Archives for May 2008

The Art Pottery of Gertrude and Otto Natzler

The husband and wife team of Gertrud and Otto Natzler created extraordinary pottery pieces from the late Pict1077a 1930s until Gertrud’s death in 1971.  Gertrud threw the clay and crafted it into perfectly proportioned, simple forms.  Otto experimented with different glazing techniques and discovered rich, luminous glazes that set Natzler Pottery apart from the rest.  Otto developed over 1000 glazes before his death at age 99.  Gertrud and Otto’s pottery had numerous American, European, and international exhibitions in just their first few years together.  Today, their exquisite work can be found in over 50 museum collections around the world, including such prestigious places as the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This couple’s story is as interesting as the pottery they produced together.  They were both born in Vienna, Dsc_1660Austria in 1908.  Each of them had ceramics experience before they met.  But the combination of her imaginative design and his talent with glazes resulted in a product much more stunning than they could create separately.  March 11, 1938 was a turning point for Otto and Gertrud.  That morning they received a letter telling them they had been awarded the silver medal at the Paris International Exposition, and that afternoon the Nazis invaded Austria.  Later that year, they married and fled to California.  Gertrud’s Dsc_1656potter’s wheel and Otto’s small electric kiln were among the belongings that were shipped to them from Vienna.  The Natzlers opened their first workshop in Los Angeles and began making the pottery that would become their legacy.

The Natzlers’ mid-century American art pottery is highly collectible today and often goes for record amounts at auction.  When a collection of 9 pieces of Natzler was featured on a 2008 episode of Antiques Road Show, it’s appraised value was between $44,500 and $68,500.  A Natzler piece is a valuable part of any California or American studio ceramics collection.

Just Art Pottery

George Ohr Pottery Exhibit

George Ohr Rising: The Emergence of an American Master The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts is hosting Pict4540_2 a traveling exhibit of George Ohr’s original works until June 22, 2008. The forty piece collection is on loan from the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi. The subtitle of the event, The Emergence of an American Master, refers to Ohr’s recovery from tragedy to create the most masterful work of his career. The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art experienced a similar tragedy, followed by a rebuilding period, after Hurricane Katrina partially destroyed its new building in 2005. The theme of tragedy to triumph is central to this exhibit.

George Ohr was born in Biloxi in 1857. He moved to New Orleans when a family friend offered him a job in a pottery studio, but he soon began traveling all over the United States and Canada learning more about ceramics. He returned to Biloxi to open his own studio, but his building and close to 10,000 pieces of his pottery were completely destroyed in a fire in 1894. His work after the fire was much more imaginative, and he began calling himself the “Mad Potter of Biloxi.” Because of his eccentric persona and over-the-top marketing, his work was not taken seriously until after his death. He is now considered a pioneer of modern art pottery. His work with modern forms and shapes was revolutionary.

The George Ohr Rising exhibit can be viewed at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts in San Angelo, Texas,Dsc03450  Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for senior citizens. After the George Ohr collection leaves Texas, it will travel to the Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art in Alfred, New York, where it will open October 21. There is also a George Ohr Rising virtual gallery online for those who cannot see it in person.

Additional George Ohr Pottery Resources:

Just Art Pottery

Weller Pottery Featured in 0 at Home Magazine

If you’re looking for an example of authentic arts and crafts decorating, look no further than your local Pict1092 magazine stand. O at Home, Oprah Winfrey’s home décor magazine, printed a feature article on the vacation retreat of Bil and Ruth Ehrlich in the Spring 2008 publication.

The Ehrlich’s upstate New York home, which Bil designed, is a work of prairie-style art in itself. It is a rural, natural-looking structure that was created from joining five different nineteenth-century farm buildings. Inside this unique retreat, you’ll find many details that give the home an authentic Arts and Crafts feel. The living room windows are antique, prairie-style windows from a house in Cincinnati. The stove is a restored, late 1920s Magic Chef with three ovens and six burners. In the bathroom, there is a blue tin bathtub with cast-iron legs and oak trim. Stickley furniture in the dining room and living room complete the turn-of-the- century look of the Ehrlich’s home.

The unifying theme throughout the home, though, is the Weller Pottery that graces each shelf, table, Dsn0242 mantel, and ledge. There is even a small collection of Weller on top of the Magic Chef stove. The Ehrlich’s have such an extensive collection of Weller Pottery that they have yet to find places to display all of their pieces. Their collection includes several Art Nouveau vases by French ceramist Clement Massier, which now sell for thousands of dollars each. Many of their pieces were purchased at the annual Pottery Lovers Weekend in Zanesville, Ohio.

The Ehrlich’s home away from home is a wonderful backdrop for their art pottery collection, and the O at Home staff captured the essence of their style perfectly. There are beautiful pictures of the pottery pieces, like the one of the Weller Pottery vases and planters displayed behind the mission-style couch. There is also an overhead view of the Stickley dining room table set with Weller Coppertone ceramics. The entire article is very well done, exhibiting both the beauty of Weller Pottery and the passion of true art pottery collectors.

Just Art Pottery

Van Briggle Pottery Symposium 2008

The Van Briggle Pottery & Tile Company will host the 2008 Van Briggle Symposium September 11-13, 2008.  The symposium is in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Van Briggle Memorial Pottery on December 3, 1908.Pict1100a

Highlights of the event will include:

  • Van Briggle Pottery & Tile Company firing of the K108 commemorative kiln.  Attendees will receive copies of the earliest known Van Briggle design records from the Van Briggle Pottery archives.
  • Bus tour to the Chico Basin Ranch which was the early residence of Artus Van Briggle and the site for the design of shape 1, "The Chalice".
  • Guest speakers Scott H. Nelson, author of "A Collector’s Guide to Van Briggle Pottery" and Fred Wills, Van Briggle potter between 1947 and 1987. Mr. Wills will discuss early employees, installation of the new kiln, glaze and design experiments, etc.  Mr. Wills has also offered to sign any Van Briggle Pottery FW original pieces that attendees bring to the event.
  • Tour of the Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum’s collection of Van Briggle pottery with Curator/Assistant Director Katie Davis Gardner.
  • Show & Tell, Buy & Sell.  Collectors can bring Van Briggle Pottery to discuss, buy, sell or trade.   
  • Tours of the Memorial Pottery with George Eckhardt and Colorado Springs Van Briggle tour of vintage tile and fireplaces

Greg Myroth – Buying and Selling Van Briggle Pottery

Present Day Art Pottery Manufacturers Website

Although many of the great art pottery manufacturers closed their doors years ago, there are some remaining companies that still produce quality pottery pieces today.  The website Art Pottery Manufacturers and Collectors is a great resource for pottery enthusiasts who are interested in finding these active potteries.  Visitors will find links to over 30 different comtemporary pottery companies. 

In addition to the company links, this website provides a comprehensive list of collectors’ groups and museums dedicated to American pottery and ceramics.  There is also a calendar of upcoming events that are held in locations across the country.  Collectors who have events or information to add to the website are encouraged to contact the site’s owner Joe Ragosta.

Greg Myroth – Just Art Pottery

Arts and Crafts Chicago Show and Sale

The third annual Arts and Crafts – Chicago antique event will be on May 17 & 18, 2008 at Concordia University’s Geiseman Gym.  The show and sale will feature furniture and accessories from the American and English Arts and Crafts Movements.  Admission to the show is $7, and doors will be open on Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sunday from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

This is a great opportunity for those who are interested in learning more about the Arts and Crafts Movement, those who want to learn how to furnish their turn of the century bungalows, or those experienced collectors who are looking for Arts and Crafts antiques to purchase.

In addition to the show and sale, two Arts and Crafts decorating workshops will be offered on Sunday.

·          Stenciling Your Bungalow: The Essentials of Vintage Art

Amy Miller of Trimbelle River Studio will teach participants about the vintage stenciling found on walls, curtains, and table linens in Arts and Crafts period homes.  This is a hands-on workshop where participants can practice the techniques from Amy’s recent book Stenciling the Arts and Crafts Home.  The workshop will be May 18 from 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM, and the cost is $55.  See Trimbelle River Studios for registration information.

·          Light and Color: The Essentials of the Craftsman Home

Historic Interior Designer Karen L. Hovde will share her expertise on the use of color, light, and texture in Arts and Crafts home décor.  This prestigious designer will help participants choose a Craftsman style color palette for their homes.  Participants can bring pictures of a room in their home, and they will leave with paint chips, fabric, and carpet designs to use in the room.  This interactive workshop will be May 18 from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM, and the cost is $75.  Send an email to karenintvision@gmail.com to register.