Teco Pottery

Teco Pottery originally began as Spring Valley Tile Works in Terra Cotta, Illinois in the late 1800s; 1881 to be exact, and was a major player in the Prairie School arts and crafts movement that was later made popular by Frank Lloyd Wright. William Day Gates could often be found experimenting with different clay and glazing combinations, though the company profits came from drain tiles, finials, urns and other materials used to as fireproofing materials. Soon, though, his appreciation of the clay and glaze variations became more prominent and he cleverly named this new branch Teco Pottery – It’s a play on the words “TErra COtta”.

By 1902, Teco Pottery was introduced to the nation and that began a successful effort that resulted in more than 500 designs being released in less than two decades. While we don’t know for sure when the last pieces of Teco Pottery were actually produced, there exists documentation that suggests it continued until at least 1923.

If you’re familiar with Teco Pottery, you know that tell-tale matte green finish. What many aren’t aware of, though, is that it’s part of more than 90% of the entire pottery collection. Some of the pieces have interesting charcoaling, a darker gray, that overlays the green. The combination of these two glazing efforts is truly remarkable. Other colors you’ll find in Teco Pottery are brown, a deep red, pink and blue. Yellow is sometimes found as well. Teco Pottery is one of those collections that the more you display, the more dramatic that presentation is, and a lot of that has to do with the green glazing efforts.

Another unique look that’s part of this American art pottery collection is the abstract designs. There are a lot of clean and defined lines that are both dramatic and effective. To a lesser degree, there are pieces that aren’t as sharp-lined, but it’s most certainly those pieces that have angles that are most sought after. Many people use “architectural” in their descriptions – and that’s accurate too.

For those who love Teco Pottery as much as we do, you owe it to yourself to explore the records that are maintained at the University of Minnesota. Among those records are the original architectural drawings.

Have your own Teco Pottery collection? We’d love to see it! Drop us a line or share them on the Just Art Pottery Facebook page.