May Day


Bing & Grondahl Danish Modern "Blacksmith" Stoneware Sculpture by Axel Thilson Locher (LEO Design)


In many parts of the world, May First is "May Day"—a day to honor laborers, those people who make their livings with their hands and bodies.  Strangely, the notion of celebrating workers strikes some Americans with suspicion.  Are these people afraid that workers will take over the government?  Form unions?  Ask for a raise?

I have great respect for workers because they are (usually) craftsmen—people who have learned to build or fix things with their hands.  Is a woodcarver's artful creation any more beautiful than the best work of a master cabinet maker?  A superb painter?  An exacting boiler installer?  What about a tailor?  A cook?  A barber?  Technical skills, fastidiousness and good taste serve all the trades (and craftsmen) well.  And the rest of us are better for it.

Shown above, a handsome stoneware sculpture of a metalsmith by sculptor Axel Thilson Locher for Danish ceramics workshop Bing & Grøndahl.  Locher was born in Copenhagen (in 1879) to an artistic family.  His father was nautical painter Carl Locher.  Both father and son lived and worked in Skagen, Denmark's northernmost town.  (Fans of the Danish series, Seaside Hotel, frequently will hear Skagen mentioned, as "the big town" six miles north of the hotel.)  At 12 years of age, Locher began to study sculpting and, at 15, he was accepted into the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.  For several years after that, Locher worked for Bing & Grøndahl, including to help create the company's exhibition at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900—which catapulted Danish ceramics onto the world stage.  At Bing & Grøndahl, Locher worked alongside ceramicist Jo Hahn Locher whom he married.  She often collaborated with him, sometimes painting his sculpture.  Axel Locher's most prominent commission was to create eight monumental sculptures to adorn the spire of the Danish Parliament Building, Christiansborg Palace.  Each of the eight copper sculptures, over 10 feet tall apiece, depict Danish male and female workers, many holding the tools of their labors.

Click on the photo above to learn more about this handsome sculpture.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248