Archives for May 2012

Roseville Art Pottery Wall Pockets

There is something so striking about a collection of American art pottery wall pockets. Take it a step further and make it a collection of Roseville Pottery wall pockets, and you have a beautiful – and rare – collection. Many of us don’t have a six, eight or more Roseville wall pockets, but there’s no doubt these treasures are not likely to leave the family. If you’re like me, these get written into the will!

What makes Roseville Pottery wall pockets so different has a lot to do with the versatility of these creations. The glaze lines, shapes, textures and a host of other creative efforts come together to form the perfect wall decor. The fact that many of the lines with Roseville Pottery include a wall pocket sweetens the deal even more.

Roseville Snowberry

One of the really popular lines, Roseville Pottery Snowberry, has its own wall pocket. It incorporates interesting straight lines and even has small handles. The beveled florals along with the way the browns, pinks and greens play off each other, makes this a definite must-have if you ever come across one. The good news is it’s a fairly affordable piece. These beauties measure 5 1/4″ in height and are 8″ wide.

Roseville Poppy Gray

Another favorite, at least of this writer, is the Roseville Pottery Poppy Gray wall pocket. I love this one because of the way the artists extend it with two miniature pockets on either side. Another eye-catching inclusion is the lovely pale yellow and light blue-gray glaze combination. It’s the perfect frame for the white poppy pair that defines this wall vase.

Roseville Freesia Green

For those who appreciate the more dramatic side of Roseville Pottery, the Freesia Green is definitely worth a bit of time searching out. The soft black allows the matte green glaze to jump out, even as what appears to be very light pink dandelions are gracing center stage. It too offers dual handles and is sure to the centerpiece of any Roseville Pottery wall pocket collection. The design has a wide opening at the top and flows downward to a soft point at its base.

These are just a few of the wall pockets that are part of the Roseville name. If you have a collection, we’d love to see your photos. We’re always inspired by other Roseville Pottery fans.

Terra Cotta Tile Works – Teco Pottery

In what began as a brick and tile company, the Terra Cotta Tile Works Company was founded in 1881. William Gates didn’t introduce the pottery line until two decades later in 1902. Within a decade of introducing the pottery line, there were more than 500 designs. Most are familiar with the simple, though lovely, matte green glaze, which encompasses nearly the entire collection. While that certainly lends to its unique presentation, there’s no denying the the forms and the role they play in Teco’s popularity.

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One ad, dated 1908 reads “Teco Pottery is extensively in demand for prizes and presents”. The black and white advertisement features one of Teco’s vases with side “pockets” that add a bit of dimension to the look, along with a narrow neck that flares up and out at the vase opening. It then goes on to say the pottery is “especially suitable for Christmas Presents, also Bridge Whist prizes”. It’s an interesting combination in terms of what the ad suggests.

One thing’s for sure, though, claims in this particular ad that Teco Pottery is “the pottery of restful, peaceful green and is remarkable for its purity of line and newness of design” are right on target. This truly is a collector’s dream. It’s popular, it can still be located and purchased without blowing your budget and it’s timeless. It’s as lovely and appropriate on a coffee table or shelf today as it was then.

Prairie School Influences

As mentioned, the decorative pottery line was introduced in 1902 and the timing couldn’t have been better as it is the epitome of the “prairie school” arts and crafts movement, courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright, that was the “must have” in that time period. The traditional Teco pottery forms are best defined as either geometric (“architectural” is used often) or organic. While the most used color glaze was the matte green, collectors can locate pieces that incorporate reds and browns, too.

It’s not known the exact date Teco Pottery ceased its American art pottery lines, it’s believed it went until at least the mid 1920s.

The Rich Arequipa Pottery History

Located in Marin County, California, Arequipa Pottery has a very interesting history. In what began as a tuberculosis sanatorium in the early 1900s for wage-earning women diagnosed with TB was soon renowned for its unique approach in combining health care with pottery making. This approach served many purposes, including as a solution for paying the medical costs of treating the patients. More importantly, it was believed the therapeutic benefits were remarkable. What’s most interesting is that it was in business for just a few short years – between 1911 and 1918.

For whatever reasons, the massive San Francisco earthquake in 1906 affected women more than men when it came to breathing difficulties and other health-related problems, which is why the sanatorium was initially opened. And, too, because of the limitations in the medical field during that time, the only cure that was known amounted to little more than rest and relaxation. As we know, though, pottery making as its own way of keeping fine dust particles in the air, which likely and unknowingly exacerbated the tuberculosis. Still, the results of their creativity lives on in the pieces that are still available.

The vast majority of the clay used during this time was locally dug by younger boys who had the strength to handle the tasks. The patients/artists would spend a few hours a day (or less – depending on how they felt on any given day) working on their pottery. They were led in their efforts by the likes of Albert Solon, Fred Wilde and a few other respected ceramists of the day. That said, the creative efforts were 100% original to the patient; the ceramists were there strictly in a mentoring role.

Another interesting note was the introduction during this time of slip trailing, which is careful carving of leaves, vines and other decorative patterns into the damp clay.

As it happens, Just Art Pottery has one of these lovely creations on our New Arrivals page. The rare Arequipa Pottery vase stands 5 3/4″ tall and has an elegant matte greenish-blue finish. It’s in mint condition with no chips or cracks. It’s really indicative to both the attention to detail in its slight curves and lines.

This really is a fine way to collect American art pottery, especially considering the rich history behind it.

Rookwood Pottery Aerial Blue

Produced for just one year, between 1894 and 1895, the Aerial Blue pattern has a beautiful translucent gloss with grayish-blue hues throughout. What’s so surprising about these patterns is often, the blue that comes through isn’t a result of the painting, but rather, the blue found naturally in the clay. Of course, it’s accentuated, but rarely is a pottery piece created with its natural elements as part of the design process. It’s truly a remarkable collection and even more surprising is it was discontinued after just three months. While there aren’t any definitive dates, it’s believed production began in November or December and by January or February of 1895, it had been discontinued.

It’s important to keep in mind that there was a lot going on with Rookwood Pottery during this time. It had already been considering, and indeed experimenting, with the Cameo ware with the goal of creating lighter design colors to pair with those thick, glossy and translucent glazes. In the middle of all this, the facilities – the entire company – relocated to a better area. So, between the ongoing new product development and the physical move, it could have been the Aerial Blue line got lost in the process.

Other factors included the introduction of the Sea Green Iris glaze lines, simultaneously offered with the Aerial Blue. Also, because the Aerial Blue was at least partially inspired by another company’s line, Royal Copenhagen, the two could have been in an informal competition with the competitor’s offering winning customer loyalty. Either way, this simply wasn’t a popular line. Perhaps it was just ahead of its time because it’s one of the most sought after Rookwood Pottery glazes today.

If you’re looking for markings, you should know most of the pieces include those exclusive to Joseph Bailey, the company’s long time ceramics engineer. They’re described as “an impressed number – usually three digits – bracketed by incised crescent moons, found usually on the bottom of these pieces”.

If you’re a Rookwood Pottery fan, this is truly one line that is indicative of what the company was always about: beauty, elegance and attention to detail.