Archives for May 2014

Roseville Raymor

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

Roseville Raymor

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.

Southern Influences on American Art Pottery

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)

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.