Ceramic Cheer – part II

Übelacker Red Vase with Highly-Textured "Nevelson" Bas Relief (LEO Design)

Another cheery “bauble”—nice at Christmas or any time.

In 1909, German tinsmith Johann Übelacker opened a pewter-smithing workshop in Ransbach-Baumbach (half-way between Frankfurt and Cologne).  Johann began experimenting with mounting pewter upon ceramic forms—as was done with traditional German beer steins—and he enjoyed some success.  After World War II, Übelacker Keramic was well-positioned to exploit the boom in West German art pottery production.  What’s more, Übelacker was the first large production ceramics workshop to master the use of selenium red glazes.  The process was still tricky but, for the first time, a modern Western ceramics manufacturer was able to produce a fairly-consistent red glaze—the “holy grail” which only the Chinese had mastered heretofore.  Übelacker enjoyed great growth in the post war years.

When Johann Übelacker died in 1955, his three sons took over the company.  They brought even more vigor to the company’s pursuit of new design and technical advances.  The boys guided the company through its heyday of the 1960’s and 1970’s—managing to stay one step ahead of new trends and customer demand.  In the 1980’s, bad investments in overseas manufacturing plants hurt the company and it closed in 1990.

The piece above, made in the 1960’s, is a good example of Übelacker’s most interesting work. The cubist, textural ceramic design is reminiscent of work by Ukrainian-American sculptor Louise Nevelson.  The bright red selenium glaze celebrates the company’s technical prowess. And the wrought metalwork mounted upon the vase reminds one of Johann Übelacker’s early experiments with moving his craft forward.

Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.


For the Holiday season, LEO Design is open daily from Noon ’til 10:00 pm.