Archives for December 2009

Haeger Pottery

Haegermarigold Founded in 1871, Haeger Pottery remains the oldest American art pottery company.  Still in business after almost 135 years, there is a rich history associated with this Illinois pottery company.  What began as an effort to supply the millions of bricks Chicago was in desperate need of following the great fire of 1871 soon became a massive art pottery company.

The Haeger Pottery website notates "Adam and Eve" as the initial design from the first collection of art pottery.  The Haeger glaze line was perfected on this collection, too.  Before long, the milk bottle kiln was introduced and a major chapter in American art was written.  Immediately following this kiln, the company devoted its attention to creating relatively simple clay flower pots that were being used in florists across the country.  While they served their purposes, the company wished to take a more artistic route.  It was during this time Martin Stangl left Fulper Pottery and came to work for the Haeger family as they continued the transition into a more sophisticated and definitive art pottery company.  Once the artistic aspects were addressed and other artists had been hired, Stangl then left Haeger Pottery and returned to his former employer, Fulper Pottery. 

Finally, in 1934, construction began on what would become the nation's largest ceramic factory.  It soon became a major tourist attraction and it is estimated five million people would tour the new factory over the next several years. 

Some of the artists who would play a role in this line of American pottery included:

  • Norma Pierce
  • Wilhelmina Post
  • Gertrude Priest
  • Ellen R. Farrington
  • Florence S. Liley
  • Lillian Newman
  • Anna V Lingley
  • Ruth Erickson
  • Gertrude Stanwood; and
  • Kiiche Yamada

In the mid-1930s, Royal Hickman came on board and along with Haeger, developed the "Royal Haeger" line.  It's especially remarkable due to the gracious designs and glossy glaze lines.  While every piece was extremely popular, it was the black panthers that were in big demand.  A rich inky Haegerorange black along with a  glossy finish is what defines the Haeger black panthers, which were made in three sizes. 

Still in the family, Haeger Pottery continues the tradition that began as the result of a single fire that wiped out an entire city.

Donna McGill – Just Art Pottery

Just Art Pottery New Arrivals

3952 If you haven't taken a look in the past several days at the new arrivals on the Just Art Pottery site, you're in for a treat.  I don't believe I have ever seen a more beautiful Rookwood Pottery Ewer.  The intricate detailing via silver overlay is simply astonishing.  The ewer's dark glaze works with the silver overlay to present an elegance that's simply unmatched.  Even better is its mint condition; all too many times a jewel such as this 1893 production is found only to be accompanied by some degree of damage.  Not this time, though.  There are no chips, cracks or damage of any kind on this beauty.

There's also a Hull Pottery bow knot basket that's delicate and feminine in its appearance.  Hull fans know how vivid the colors are in this art pottery line and it's only one of the reasons we're so drawn to it.  This is another mint condition piece with no damage at all.  The bottom is marked "Hull Art, USA" B.25-6 1/2.  This Hull basket measures 6 ½ " tall and 5 ¾ " wide. 

If you're a fan of the Roseville Pottery Apple Blossom patterns, you'll want to see the two new pieces just added to the Just Art Pottery inventory.  One of the taller ewer designs and a unique Apple Blossom basket, both in green and both in mint condition, were added in the past few days. They're beautiful when paired together as part of a collection or as stand alone pieces you wish to showcase.  The Roseville Apple Blossom patterns are quite popular and in demand. 

Of course, these are just a few of the new arrivals.  See them all here or visit the Just Art Pottery homepage for a listing of all the various art pottery lines we carry.  Also, we'd love to hear what you 4613 think of the Rookwood Pottery ewer mentioned above.  Drop us a line here.  As always, we welcome your stories of how you came upon your favorite American art pottery.  Send us your story!

Donna McGill – Just Art Pottery

Arequipa Pottery

Logo-JustArtPottery Between the years 1911-1918, Arequipa Pottery existed first as a way to provide therapy to patients at a California sanitarium and then as a financial endeavor that might had been successful were it not for World War I.  Arequipa, meaning "the place of peace" was the brainchild of Dr. Philip King Brown.  After having founded the Arequipa Tuberculosis Sanatorium, it was his belief art would play a significant role in one's recovery efforts.  Soon, he attempted to make it a profitable company, if for no other reason than to offset the costs associated with providing supplies to the patients.  After having brought on board a few different people to assist in the management efforts, Dr. Brown brought in F.H. Wilde.  Wilde was experienced in the details of starting an art pottery and knew how it make it financially successful.  He promptly took to his new position and did quite well until the war made it unfeasible to continue. 

Still, the patients, who were most likely pre-teen and teen girls, were allowed to display their artistic wares at the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915.  They were allowed to keep a small percentage of their pieces that sold as well as small salary.  It was Dr. Brown's belief this type of therapy was as important as proper nutrition and the medications used to heal the girls' physical ailments.  As mentioned above, Arequipa Pottery was not able to turn a profit and eventually, it came to rely solely on donations until they too began to decrease.  1918 marked the final year of the art pottery company.  Many of the pieces these young patients were responsible for creating are on display at the Smithsonian Institution.  The pieces that are in circulation are considered quite valuable and each is one of a kind since the patients either created at will or would complete a piece and promptly begin another project.

On a final note, it wasn't until 2001 another showing that rivaled the size of the 1915 Panama Pacific Expo displayed Arequipa Pottery.  While many pieces remain at the Smithsonian Institute, there are a significant number that can be found in Oakland's Museum of California.

Donna McGill – Just Art Pottery

Roseville Pottery History and the Difficulties the Company Faced

Roseville3 Following World War II, everything people knew – or thought they knew – changed dramatically.  The art pottery world was no different.  One of the most challenging changes was a 1946 Supreme Court ruling that had Roseville Pottery concerned over labor wages. 

It was a common practice for potteries to "round down" working hours when figuring time cards.  For instance, time was docked for activities such as walking from the time clock to one's work area, changing into uniforms or coveralls or any other activities spent preparing for the job each day.  The Supreme Court ruled another pottery company, Mt. Clemens Pottery, would have to pay retroactive overtime because of its practices.  Naturally, this made all other potteries more than a little uncomfortable.  The country was, after all, rebuilding after a devastating war.  For some companies, being forced to retroactively pay its employees equated to closing the doors. 

But it wasn't just domestic issues that concerned Roseville Pottery.  Now that the war was over, other countries began exporting art pottery into America.  The competition was incredible.  The biggest threat was Japan and Germany.  Many American potters felt as though the U.S. Government was encouraging these imports; and indeed, it was.  While the government was attempting to rebuild its financial structuring, that meant imports would have to once again resume. 

Roseville Pottery's response was to increase its advertising efforts by an additional ten thousand dollars per month.  It also began producing more contemporary, or modern, pieces in an effort to attract younger clients.  The company leaders were wise in their efforts however.  No one wanted to alienate those loyal clients who preferred the more traditional pieces.  The advertising efforts paid off.  Booklets began appearing; complete with full color photographs, which showcased the newer Roseville pottery floral lines, including such popular patterns as Apple Blossom, Bittersweet, Foxglove, Zephyr Lily and Snowberry.

While other companies played it safe, Roseville pottery moved forward with an aggressive advertising campaign that ensured its stability through difficult times.  Eventually, however, it became clear Roseville Pottery was nearing its end.

In April, 1954, just before Roseville Pottery went out of business, then-President Windisch reported the company had approximately $5000 on hand in cash, $40,000 in its accounts receivable ledger and in what was referred to as "unshipped business", the company had $35,000.  All total, the inventory was valued at $109,000.  The company was losing money during those first few months in 1954 and had many accounts that they could not collect on.

Incredibly,  "the molds, blocks, cases, master dies and designs, together with lists of the accounts Roseville which have heretofore purchased Roseville art pottery and the registered trade mark "Roseville", as well as the right to continue selling under the Roseville name was sold for $100 to Georgianna and Robert Windisch.  The board of directors considered the $100 payment "in excess of the value of assets".   With that one declaration, Roseville Pottery would never again exist in its previous manner.

Search through Just Art Pottery's Roseville Pottery inventory by pattern or shape and don't forget to sign up for the Just Art Pottery newsletter.

Donna McGill – Just Art Pottery

The Potter

Fulpervase Ever wonder how the potter's wheel works?  I've actually wondered for years each time I saw a potter work balls of clay into remarkable shapes and designs.  It looked so easy and graceful, but I knew there was a lot that went into it.  I dug around a bit and found a lot of detailed information on the subject.  The potter's wheel was invented in the 4th millennium BC, which I found surprising.  I think sometimes we take for granted the history in many of the simple things we rely on in modern day. 

The History Channel describes the potter's wheel as a flat disk that revolves horizontally on a pivot.  This allows the potter to shape the pottery from the bottom up.  It begins as a ball of clay that is somewhat centered on the wheel head, which rotates.  Japanese potters used hand wheels for centuries that required a stick to be slipped into a notch by a second person. 

During the 16th century, the Europeans developed a fly wheel which was separated from the wheel head, but mounted onto a frame.  This allowed the potter to operate the fly wheel simply by kicking, hence the name 'kick bar'.  Into the 19th century, kick bar became interchangeable with a 'foot treadle'.   Finally, by the time the 20th century came along, the electric wheel was invented.  Improvements over the years included variable speed motors for better regulation of the rotation speeds. 

Once the clay is shaped, it's then ready for drying and firing, which is an incredible process all its own.  It's the shaping of the clay, however, that many insist is the most crucial aspect of art pottery since this is where the art is actually 'defined'.  This is done by 'tempering' the clay by incorporating materials such as sand, stone or even shells.  The potter kneads the clay into the proper plasticity, and of course, from there, it's thrown onto the wheel.

The end result is beautiful works of art, much like this exceptional Fulper vase seen here.

Be sure to visit the New Arrivals page at Just Art Pottery.

Donna McGill – Just Art Pottery

1876 World's Fair and its Role in American Art Pottery

In doing a bit of research, mostly because I wanted a definitive idea of when American art pottery Weller became such a commodity, I discovered the one most significant event that led to its earliest beginnings.  That event was the World's Fair, or as it was sometimes called, the Centennial.  Held in Philadelphia, there were artists who had already begun to work with clays and glazes.  American art potters were especially interested in the French and Japanese wares on display.  According to Lucille Henzke's book, Art Pottery of America (1982), there were four artists who were so inspired they chose to pursue art pottery as a way of earning a living.  Those artists were T.J. Wheatley, Louise McLaughlin, Nichols Storer and Maria Longsworth.

Before long, potteries became a part of communities everywhere.  People came from around the globe to both study and work in the most successful of pottery companies.  Glazes were developed and carefully protected from the competition and formulas were written to ensure consistency from one ware to another. 

Around the beginning of World War I, as one might expect, costs skyrocketed for materials required to produce art pottery.  Only the most talented and strongest survived.  To ensure stability, many potteries began using molds, with individual attention given to each piece during the hand painting efforts of the artists.  Since so many art pottery pieces escaped the marking process during this Freesia time, one can't help but wonder if the difficulties the world faced, especially from a financial aspect, had something to do with that. 

Still, art pottery developed over the years, each new artist leaving a significant mark along the way.  We're left with true works of art to collect, cherish and pass down from one generation to the next.  In the process, we wonder who might have held our stunning Roseville vase decades earlier or who might have created the hand painted design on our Weller piece.  Time marches on, but anytime we can catch a glimpse into the journey any of our pieces have made, it's always worth a pause in time as we contemplate.

Donna McGill – Just Art Pottery

Decorating for the Holidays with American Art Pottery

Fulper

We know how beautiful art pottery is in our homes.  It adds elegance and beauty to any home décor.  But how often do we incorporate it into our holiday design schemes?  We get so wrapped up in making sure the turkey's perfect, the cream cheese icing is just sweet enough and the table is flawless in its presentation.  Here are a few ideas that will bring that elegance to your holiday decorating by incorporating your art pottery collection:

  • Do you collect Roseville pitchers?  If so, why not make a centerpiece for your dinner table or dress up your dining accent table with a few of your favorites?  Just keep in mind little ones who are as excited about the holidays as we are.  Be sure to keep them protected as you showcase them.
  • The Roseville Pottery Snowberry Tea Set is another beautiful way to adorn your dining area.  Place it near the coffee pot, hot tea or hot chocolate area to beautifully designate the area.
  • Line your counter area with your McCoy cookie jar collections.  The delightful characters McCoy is so well known for will have the little ones asking which one the cookies are hidden in.
  • Place decorative soaps into one your art pottery baskets (think Rookwood) in your bathroom for an elegant touch.  Be sure to coordinate the soap color with the basket color.
  • Place after-dinner mints in one of your hearty Fulper Art Pottery bowls.
  • Select your favorite Van Briggle vase to place a dried floral arrangement as your dining table centerpiece.
  • Collect Teco Art Pottery vases?  They make a stunning collage when grouped together on a mantelpiece.  Combine the aquas, browns and blues for even more flair.  Accent them with sprigs of holly for more color.
  • Arrange your wall pockets in your dining room for an instant conversation piece.Teaset

It's important to remember to only use those pieces in ways you're most comfortable with.  Although you want to showcase your art pottery collection, remember it's an investment and if you're uncomfortable with any of it being too easily accessed by excited kids or slippery fingers, play it safe.  There are ways to incorporate the great American art potters' work in other ways that protect them. 

Donna McGill – Just Art Pottery

November New Arrivals

New inventory is something we always look forward to at JustArtPottery.com.  It's a chance to see Grueby first-hand the beauty of some of the most incredible American art pottery found anywhere in the world.  We study it, research it and generally "oooh and aaahh" over it until, of course, we have to let it go.  November saw the addition of several examples of American art pottery that's becoming increasingly difficult to locate.  Keep reading for some of our favorites we're fortunate enough to have in our inventory – for now, anyway.

We added a nice collection of early Ephraim Faience pottery including several rare and investment quality first year vases as well as a beautiful Century Studios Dragonfly vase.  There were only fifty of the Dragonfly vases made.  The dragonfly rests upside down and the pottery shape begins with a narrow neck and gradually increases until it begins to recede in diameter again.  It's a beautiful piece and will be a treasure to anyone who adds it to their personal collection.

Several impressive and rarely seen examples of Fulper pottery, direct from a large estate fresh collection, are also available. The Fulper additions include rare Buddha bookends, figural flower frogs, and several very decorative vases.  If you're a fan of arts and crafts pottery you're in for a treat.  We have several very nice examples of Teco, Newcomb and Grueby.  Be sure to check out one of my personal favorites – a 9 ½" Grueby arts & crafts vase in a stunningly understated matte caramel glaze.  It's in excellent condition with only two tiny repairs on its rim.  Finally, you owe it to Teco yourself to see the Teco American Terra Cotta Chicago Pottery Double Tray.  It's the angry man design that is sure to be the ideal conversation starter.  Its small stature is more than made up for in the attention to detail.  This is another rare find, to be sure.

This is just a few of the highlights; as we have many new items recently added to our inventory.  Take a look and if you're in the market for something specific, drop us a line – we might be able to help.