JOURNAL — Art Pottery RSS



The Boys March In

On this day in 1937, Dutch Scouting (the Padvinders or “Path Finders”) commemorated the end of the Fifth International Jamboree (bijeenkomst or “meeting”) with this Dutch-made ceramic transferware plate.  Dutch Boy Scouting was founded in 1910, followed by Girl Scouting the following year.  The Netherlands became part of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in […]

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Lots of LEOs - XVII

  Let's end our parade of LEOs with this whimsical offering: a Danish Modern stoneware plaque by Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen. This frisky feline is caught in mid-leap, paw extended toward his feathered feast.  It's made to hang on the wall, though it could also be permanently mounted into a tile installation.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Easy Being Green - IV

Let's wrap-up this little parade of green pottery with another studio-made piece, this time crafted by Walter & Gisela Baumfalk.  A fine crystalline glaze lies atop a metallic gunmetal undercolor.  The tapering form culminates in a lipped top band.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Easy Being Green - III

This European hand-thrown stoneware pitcher is dressed in a metallic gunmetal and mossy-green glaze. The piece has—at once—a naive, folk craft sensibility and a highly sophisticated Modernist edge.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. More green ceramics tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Easy Being Green - II

Though LEO Design has a broad selection of German ceramics, East German ceramics are much less common and a bit harder to find.  The example above, by Karl Jüttner, was made in the Seventies.  A hand-incised pot is finished with an organic metallic-moss green glaze. Learn more about it by clicking on the photo above. More green ceramics tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Easy Being Green - I

Though Kermit the Frog might disagree, green is easy. Green—the color of leaves, grass and moss—is restful, restoring, and blends beautifully with wood in an interior environment.  I especially like dark, mossy (and a little muddy) greens which give me a sense of cool comfort. The pitcher above, made in the 1960's or 1970's, was crafted by Übelacker, West Germany. The Cubist relief is reminiscent of the Modernist sculpture of Louise Nevelson.  Nevelson was born in The Ukraine in 1899 and emigrated to The States with her family as a schoolgirl.  Her sculptures were made of found objects, usually wooden, which she assembled in wall-mounted or freestanding "shadowbox" style assemblies.  They were often painted monochromatically, often black or white.  Nevelson's sculptures can...

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Space Age Ceramics - part VI

We'll end this little space trip of otherworldly, planetary ceramics with another piece by Ruscha.  Glaze master Otto Gerharz has crafted a rich—call it sublime—glaze which captures the mystery and romance of the moon.  It was made in the 1960's or 1970's and can be found by clicking on the photo above.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Space Age Ceramics - part V

Here's another wonderful glaze, made by Ruscha's glaze master, Otto Gerharz.  Unlike some of the "lunar glazes" shared in the past few days, this glaze is more verdant—like a gassy, oxygen-rich planet. One would suspect that life does exist on this organic planet. The mossy bluish-green overglaze hovers over a slightly metallic brown undercoat.  It was made in the 1960's or 1970's and you can find out more about it by clicking on the photo above. More Space Age ceramics tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design -...

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Space Age Ceramics - part IV

Form is nice—but shapes can be easily copied. It's in the glaze master's secret notebook—properly locked away—that the magic is revealed. And this glaze is sensational! Foamy waves of white pumice cling to an equally-textured grey underglaze. It all adds up to an otherworldly effect—like the gaseous clouds encircling a distant planet. Made by Carstens in West Germany in the 1960's or 1970's.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. More Space Age ceramics tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Space Age Ceramics - part III

Another little space capsule: this one a Modernist vase by Anton Piesche. First the piece was finished with a metallic gunmetal glaze and then "slashed" to reveal the clay underbody below.  It's one of a small collection of "Space Age" ceramics, recently received here at LEO Design.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. More Space Age ceramics tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Space Age Ceramics - part II

Like the frozen foamy crust on a yet-undiscovered moon, the glaze on this pedestaled ceramic vase has a textured, otherworldly look. Created by glaze master Otto Gerharz for Ruscha (West Germany) in the 1960's or 1970's.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. More Space Age ceramics tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Space Age Ceramics - part I

Recently I've purchased an interesting collection of European ceramics which have a decidedly Space Age sensibility.  The decades of the Great Space Race were the Fifties and Sixties—coincident with the blooming of post-War Modernist design.  It is not a surprise that the world's scientific zeitgeist would affect the period's aesthetics. Shown here, an East German studio piece from the 1960's by Heiner Hans Körting (1911-1991) for Danburg Pottery.  The hand-thrown piece was modeled with an extended, tapering neck—which was carefully sliced and folded-back to create three curing handles. It was fired with warm sandy and metallic gunmetal glazes. It reminds me of an Apollo space capsule from the glory days of lunar exploration. Please click on the photo above to learn...

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Viva Italia!

From Florence, Italy, comes this little Modernist planter—with plenty of hand-executed, folk craft charm. The ceramic pot is thrown, hand-incised and pierced with a ring of little "clerestory windows" around the rim. Then it's finished with a mottled deep red glaze—a red which the Italians do best. It's a remarkable amount of hand-work on display in this little Italian beauty. Made by Fratelli Fanciullacci in the 1960's. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Independence Day

What does it mean to be "independent"?  Does it mean being self-reliant?  Self-directing?  Free?  Or does it mean being separated from the rest of the world?   For me, independence means I can be myself—and actualize myself as I wish—provided I do not harm others (or the world they live in).  The flip side of "the independence coin" means accepting the differences of others—provided they do not harm me, mine or the world we live in. America's good relations with others has been good for my tiny little business.  I have travelled all over the world and built professional relationships with many good people, some of whom have become friends.  I've bought items all over the world, shipped them home, and...

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An Emperor and His Rubicon

Imagine a world political leader using bravado, war and aggression to generate popular support with his base.  That's just what Julius Caesar did—and July is named after him. Gaius Julius Caesar was born on the 12th (or 13th) of July in the year 100 BC.  He distinguished himself—amongst the Populares, at least—during the Gallic Wars.  As a Roman General, Julius Caesar led (many unauthorized) invasions into what is modern-day France and Belgium, taking the territory and expanding the Roman borders up to the English Channel and over to the Rhine.  While these cavalier exploits made him wildly popular with the Roman peasants, it displeased the elite Roman Senate immensely.  Though Caesar promoted these attacks as preventative ("attack them before they can attack...

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Rolling into July

Tomorrow we roll into July—and a hot, sticky summer.  Maybe this little guy will help to keep us cool.  He was made in Denmark for Royal Copenhagen in the 1960's or 1970's.  Let him keep you company on your desk or coffee table—and, just maybe, he'll bring you back to a crisp, cool wintery day.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Scheherazade

This little Dutch bowl was made in Gouda, Netherlands and is dated 1925.  Romantic "Orientalist" tendrils of hand-painted color swirl with confidence worthy of Leon Bakst's Scheherazade stage design for the Ballets Russes.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Terracotta Twins

Father and son team, Franz Detleff Goebel and William Goebel, founded F. & W. Goebel in 1871.  Soon afterward, they discovered their niche: beautifully-crafted sculptures and figurines aimed at the collector’s market.  For the next 140+ years, the company has grown and evolved—all the while adapting its product to satisfy the tastes of the times. […]

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Gräflich Ortenburg - part IV

We end this little parade of Gräflich Ortenburg ceramics with this red and black glazed "club form" vase.  A bulbous base tapers to a corseted neck.  Made in the 1960's.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Gräflich Ortenburg - part III

This simple, beaker-form vase is "elevated" by a small (but elegant) foot.  Glazed in red and splashes of black.  Made by Gräflich Ortenburg in West Germany.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. More Gräflich Ortenburg ceramics tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Gräflich Ortenburg - part II

Here's another of the Count's pieces: a conical vase finished with red glaze and splashes of black.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. More Gräflich Ortenburg ceramics tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Count Alram Graf zu Ortenburg - part I

The Count Alram Graf zu Ortenburg was born in Budapest in 1925—heir to a German estate and a famous, aristocratic lineage.  When his time came to inherit the family property, he sought a way to make the estate profitable.  Since there were many clay pits in the area, he decided to open a ceramics workshop in the west wing of his castle, Schlosses Tambach, in 1946. Initial production focused on ornate, highly painted ceramic vases, bowls and teacups.  But exciting Modernist design—especially out of Italy—caught the Count's eye and he re-aligned the studio's aesthetic to take advantage of this new post-War trend. Gräflich Ortenburg's work were known for their heavy, rounded, Bauhaus-inspired shapes—made of dark red clay.  Their glazes were luxurious, thick...

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White Nights

We are just a few days away from the Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  The further North one goes, the longer the days will be.  In Scandinavia, Canada and Northern Alaska, the sunlight may seem endless.  In Russia, they call this season the "White Nights."  Saint Petersburg has elevated this celebration to an art form.  Beginning in late May, the city's important Mariinsky Theatre begins scheduling impressive opera, ballet and orchestral music performances.  Later in the season, carnival celebrations dot the city—including period carriages, actors dressed in Eighteenth Century costume, and reenactments of historic events from the time of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.  And in Saint Petersburg's Palace Square, tens of thousands...

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Filtered Sunlight

Perhaps your dad has an advanced aesthetic style.  How about a handsome English Art Deco rosebowl from the 1920's or 1930's?  It was made by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian and straddles the Arts & Crafts and Art Deco periods.  The vertically-ribbed form is incised with a meandering Greek Key motif.  The piece is then finished with a dappled ombre glaze—lighter at the top and darker at the bottom.  The color is reminiscent of the way sunlight filters through increasingly deep waters.  It looks great by itself or brimming with roses, gardenias or peonies.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it. More Father's Day gift ideas tomorrow.     LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate...

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To Go Boldly . . .

I loved this vase—with its extraterrestrial, otherworldly glazing—the moment I saw it.  To me it looks like some far-away, gaseous, yet-to-be-discovered planet. Made by Ruscha (West Germany) in the 1960’s or 1970’s, it could easily be a set model hanging in the background of a Star Wars sky.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.

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Gouda You Do?

Gouda is a city in The Netherlands, well known for its cheese and for its hand-decorated art pottery.  Most of the Gouda pottery which I buy is from the 1910’s and 1920’s—and hews more closely to the “typical Gouda style” with colorful, swirling, exotic botanical motifs.  When I found this piece, I did not know […]

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Wendelin Stahl

Wendelin Stahl was born into a family of great ceramicists in a city best-known for its ceramics.  Some might argue that Wendelin became the greatest ceramicist of them all.  Born in Höhr-Grenzhausen in 1922, Wendelin studied ceramics at art school and worked in his father’s studio.  After World War II, he and his wife, ceramicist […]

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Straddling the Divide

 I've had this piece a handful of times over the years—in white, green, turquoise and carmel gold.  In fact, I had one in-stock on the day I first opened my Bleecker Street store in 1995.  I like its combination of crisp handsome paneling with its no-nonsense simplicity.  And I like that it easily straddles both schools of Arts & Crafts and the Art Deco. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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International Workers’ Memorial Day

Begun in Canada in 1984, International Workers’ Memorial Day is celebrated to remember those who have perished at work and to highlight the often-preventable nature of such incidents.  In the United States, 12 people die every day in work-related accidents. Worldwide, a worker is killed every 15 seconds. Advocates continue to push for safer working […]

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France’s Call to Freedom

On this day in 1792—in the midst of the French Revolution against their monarchy—Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle wrote his stirring call to arms.  Eventually called La Marseillaise, after the troops from Marseille who sang the song in the streets, the song was adopted as The Republic’s anthem in 1795.  To this day, it is […]

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Chinese Inspiration

For centuries, China held-tight the secrets of sophisticated ceramics-making—and they weren't about to share them with prying Westerners (who were enchanted with these beautiful and "exotic" works of art).  Amazingly, the Chinese achieved remarkable effects with fairly low-tech equipment: brick or mud hut kilns with little windows and doors through which fuel wood, heat and air could be added or released.  No gas, no gauges (like thermometers).  Ceramics-making is an art form which succeeds or fails with the tiniest changes in material, temperature and time.  And, if a ceramicist wishes to replicate an effect, she better know (and have written down!) the precise glaze ingredients, firing time and temperatures used at various points in the process. Form is rather easy to "steal"—and...

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Welcome, Taurus

From William Shakespeare, Harry Truman, and Queen Elizabeth II, to David Beckham, Penelope Cruz, and Cherilyn Sarkisian (aka: Cher), Taureans have long been pushing-forward, holding-the-line, and making the world a more comfortable place.  Known for their determination and sensibility, Taureans are also quite aesthetically-minded.  They like comfortable—though not necessarily grand—surroundings and value words, music and […]

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Gouda You Do?

Gouda (pronounced "How-da") is a Dutch city some 35 miles south of Amsterdam.  It is best known for its famous cheese.  But it did have another highly-recognizable craft export: hand-painted art pottery.  Shown above, a small two-handled pot with hand-painted blue morning glories.  It was made in (and is dated) 1923 and more can be learned about it by clicking on the photo above.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Restful Blue

The year was 1912.  The Arts & Crafts movement was in full flower and it was two years before the World-changing events of The Great War.  It was also the year when this handsome English Arts & Crafts vase was crafted.  Glazed in a dappled, saturated jewel tone blue, the bulbous base and perfectly-flaring trumpet mouth create a harmonious look—and a calming and satisfying object on which to center oneself.  Made by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian and dated 1912.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram:...

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Henry Bergh’s Mission

Henry Bergh was the son of a wealthy shipbuilder and, as such, enjoyed a life of privilege, art and leisure.  While in London, he studied The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and committed to starting such an organization in America. On this day in 1866, Bergh founded the ASPCA in New […]

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Spring Green

Is Spring finally here?  This American Arts & Crafts matte green jardiniere bursts with verdant energy.  And it brings me back to the springtime of my "merchant youth"—when I opened my first shop on Bleecker Street in 1995.  At the time (and though I did not know what "Arts & Crafts" was), I started building a nice collection of this type of pottery.  As the style was (then) very popular, I had a hard time keeping a sizable collection intact.  In time, it became increasingly difficult to find nice and affordable pieces. For the last ten (or so) years, I've had no more than a couple pieces at a time.  I found this piece not long ago—and it brought back memories...

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Peking Meets Pollock

Here's an unusual and compelling "statement piece."  Made in the 1960’s or 1970’s, it displays an interesting blend of the Classic and the Modern.  The shape comes directly from classic Chinese ceramics of the previous 500 years.  The glazing, however, is a radically exuberant “splattering” of textured chocolate-black over a base of glossy red.  Think Peking meets Pollock.  At nearly 16 inches tall, it would make a substantial backdrop to a collection of smaller pieces.  It would also function beautifully on its own—with or without flowering branches. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.

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A Monk Reading

Reginald Guy Cowan was born in 1884 in East Liverpool, Ohio—at the time an important center of American ceramics production. His father worked as a pottery designer.  While Cowan was still a boy, his family moved to Syracuse,  another pottery-producing center. Cowan was trained at the New York State School of Clayworking and Ceramics, a […]

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Soviet Bornholm

The quant and beautiful island of Bornholm—floating in the Baltic, untethered to its Danish motherland—had a remarkable World War II history of invasion and occupation.  Prior to the war, the island was the site of crafts-making and a place for quiet retreat during the long, Northern summer days.  But it was also strategically situated and,thus, […]

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For the Dogs

The first dog show was held in the United Kingdom in 1859 and they became increasingly popular as the Nineteenth Century progressed.  Participants could find the competitions frustrating, however, as there was little consistency from show to show:  no governing body, no breed standards, no consistent show rules.  Dog breeder and enthusiast Seawallis Shirley assembled […]

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Monkey Business

Amongst the finest pieces of ceramic sculpture I’ve ever had is this Danish stoneware monkey by Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen. Sculpted in the 1920’s, it captures a most-dramatic scene of a (howling?) monkey threatened by a coiled snake, ready-to-strike.  The gorgeous sang de boeuf glaze adds drama—and a bit of Orientalist mystery—to the timeless […]

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“The Potteries”

Stoke, Hanley, Burslem, Tunstall, Langton, Fenton—these are all town names familiar to collectors of English Art Pottery.  On this day in 1910, these six Staffordshire towns unified into a single “conurbation” now known as “Stoke-on-Trent” or “The Potteries.”  A “conurbation” is a region composed of a number of smaller towns forming one, continuous urban-industrial area. […]

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Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, the day when Christians recall and reflect upon the Passion and death of Jesus.  Palms are blessed,  held aloft during services and often taken home and displayed until the next Palm Sunday.  It is also one week until Easter—the single most important day of the Christian calendar. Palm motifs—stylized or realistically […]

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On This Day, Twelve Years Ago

On 21 March 2006—twelve years and a lifetime ago (to some)—Twitter was inflicted bequeathed upon an unsuspecting world.  Since then, in as few as 140 (make that 280) characters, fortunes have been made, careers have been ended, and proper grammar, punctuation and spelling have been tossed out the window. Well, let the Twits keep their Tweets!  As for me, I prefer my twitter-ing from the songbirds in the trees—perhaps the most pleasant sound of all. Speaking of Tweets, please observe the Danish Modern ceramic plaque, made by Beth Breyen for Royal Copenhagen in the 1960’s or 1970’s.  Please click on the photo to learn more about it. 

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Denbac Pottery

In 1909, in the small village of Vierzon, France (some 130 miles south of Paris), Monsieur René Denert began making pottery with the local, grey clay.  His beautiful, Art Nouveau forms were glazed with  satisfyingly-velvety drip glazes—the result:  delicate shapes cloaked in rustic colors. In 1921, he was joined by Monsieur R. L. Balichon.  The […]

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White Day

In Japan, as elsewhere, 14 February is Valentine’s Day.  The difference, however, is that in Japan it is customary for a woman to give the gift—usually chocolate—to the male object of her affection.  Handmade chocolates are most appreciated since they imply sincerity, effort and commitment on behalf of the maker. Today, one month later, it is […]

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This is What I’m Talking About!

While some may see un-alloyed Modernism in the vase pictured above, I see strong references to the Arts & Crafts.  For starters, the utilitarian shape may have been “lifted” from some ancient utilitarian vessel, possibly unearthed in a hot and dusty archeological site. Arts & Crafts designers often exhibited references to their ancient history—literature, design […]

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A Steep Climb to Royal

Pilkington pottery did not enjoy an easy inception.  Its story began in 1889 when a Manchester coal mining company began drilling pits in what should have been a good spot. Alas, too much water (and not enough coal) was discovered and, eventually, mining attempts were abandoned.  The four Pilkington brothers took over the pits and […]

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More Aesthetic Movement

As discussed yesterday, the late Nineteenth Century Aesthetic Movement was much-influenced by Japanese art and design—re-packaged, of course, by Western artists for a Western consumer.  The style affected the design and production of a wide variety of manufactured objects:  furniture, lighting, wall paper & textiles, metalworks, woodcraft, pottery & ceramics, and all manner of beautiful, […]

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The Musk Ox

Musk oxen are an Arctic mammal, found in Greenland, Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada and parts of Northern Scandinavia.  They travel in small packs of 8 – 12 animals which, during the June and July breeding season, consist of a dominant male (“bull”) and several females (“cows”)—plus their offspring.  They have extremely thick coats—which protect them […]

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From Way Across the Pond

The Pilkington Royal Lancastrian potteries were located outside of Manchester and, though they were not the biggest producer, they always made a higher-quality product.  Some of their intricate, hand-painted, “artistic” pieces now fetch tens of thousands of dollars.  The more simply-glazed items are still within the reach of most casual collectors.  But don’t let the solid green glaze fool you; the jade green glaze is actually a complex blend of green, blue and yellow, creating a “shagreen-like” texture to the piece.   There's still time to order this as a wonderful Saint Paddy's Day gift.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.

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Equirria

In Ancient Rome, the New Year began with March.  To celebrate the end of the old year—and to honor the god Mars—Romans marked 27 February as Equirria, a day of horse racing in the Campus Martius (“Field of Mars”).  In a sense, every New Year was a “Year of the Horse.” Mars—the God of War […]

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Matte Green

I've always loved matter green pottery.  Perhaps it's the leafy complement to my other love, quarter-sawn oak.  The piece above was made by Weller around 1910. Weller Pottery was founded in 1872 in Fultonham, Ohio by Samuel Weller.  It was a humble beginning with one log cabin, one kiln, and one man doing everything: digging the clay from the ground, mixing it to achieve proper consistency, throwing the pieces on a pottery wheel, glazing and firing them, then driving them to market, hoping to sell them.  In the early years, Weller concentrated on rather pedestrian “Utility Ware” items, including crocks, kitchen bowls, water coolers, jars, jugs, and pipes.  Within 17 years, Mr. Weller had built-up a modest business and moved...

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Science and The Art Nouveau – Part One

The Art Nouveau Movement, which translates to “The New Style” or “The Modern Style,” coalesced during the Universal Exposition in Paris (1900).  While it is apparently a break from the prevailing artistic and decorative trends of the just-completed century, the Art Nouveau Movement is also richly-informed by the 19th Century’s “Great Leap Forward” in the worlds of […]

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The West’s Fascination with “The Orient”

The West has had a long fascination with “The Orient.” Venetians traversed the Silk Road. The Dutch traded with China. And Columbus hit the Americas while trying to get to India. In the Nineteenth Century, European Artists and Architects attempted to re-create the “Mysterious East” in a school of design now called “Orientalism.”  Whether it’s […]

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National Bird-Feeding Month

February is National Bird-Feeding Month, a period during which the public is educated about the feeding and watching of wild birds.  It began on 23 February 1994 when Representative John Porter (R – Illinois) introduced into the record a plea for individuals to provide food, water, and shelter for wild birds—especially in February, one of […]

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The Satyress

A Satyress is the female version of the Satyr—in this case, a human woman, usually bare-breasted, with the legs of a goat. While male Satyrs are commonplace in art, architecture and design, female Satyresses are not.  Because the male creatures are usually associated with drunkeness, mischief and raw, animalistic sexuality, perhaps Classical and Rennaisance artists avoided […]

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Burmantofts Pottery

Just received, a Burmantofts “Chinese Red” classic “Oriental” vase, made in late-Victorian England.  It captures beautifully the West’s fascination at the time with Eastern culture (Far-East and Middle-East) and Europe’s attempt to replicate the Oriental style in its own way. Burmantofts was a pottery manufacturer in Leeds, England.  It was established in 1859 when a […]

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The 1910’s: Design Crystalizes

Through the ages, ceramics have played a very important part in human societies.  Ceramic objects—ranging from the highly utilitarian to the purely decorative—are amongst the most plentiful finds in archaeological sites and tell us much about its long-gone inhabitants. And museums are full of shards from which the lifestyles of ancient civilizations are deduced. Even […]

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Fulper Pottery – Part Three

In the year 1924, Mr. Stangl was promoted to company Vice President.  Fulper Pottery, ever-expanding, built a second factory, also in Flemington, to produce its new line of “Fayence” tableware:  plates, bowls, tea sets and other food service-related items.  Sold as “open stock,” some of the dinnerware was solid-colored and some were hand-painted with Art […]

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Fulper Pottery – Part Two

In the previous entry about the Fulper Pottery Company, it was 1910 and Johann Martin Stangl had just joined the firm.  He created a line of highly-regarded Arts & Crafts pottery with complex, organic glazes. Mr. Stangl also developed a line of art pottery lamps, glazed in his trademark finishes—some of them topped with ceramic […]

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Fulper Pottery – Part One

In previous days we told of our newly-acquired collection of art pottery.  We continue our introduction of recently-received matte green pieces with the vase above, made by Fulper. In 1814, Samuel Hill founded Hill Pottery in Flemington, NJ, making water pipes, crocks, jars, and other “utilitarian ware.”  When Mr. Hill died in 1858, one of […]

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Contrasts in Color and Texture

A high-fired “Chinese Red” glaze sits above one of rusticated blackish-brown.  Made by Jopeko in post-war West Germany, this piece perfectly captures the spirit of Mid-Century Modernism without being cold or sterile.  It’s part of a recent collection of red Modernist art pottery now in-store. Please come into the shop to see the entire collection […]

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Frisky Feline

Let's start the New Year with a jump: a frisky feline leaps—half-heartedly—toward his temptingly delicious prey on this Danish Modern stoneware plaque.  Sculpted by artist Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen, this oversized tile can be hung on the wall or permanently mounted with other tile work.  Please click on the photo to learn more about it.

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Auld Lang Syne

What a year!  In every way! In January, after 22 years in Greenwich Village, I closed our bricks-and-mortar location.  I miss The Village dearly.  Even more, I miss those loyal customers who supported LEO Design throughout the years—many of whom have become my friends.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. After finding a wonderful 1906 Arts & Crafts home in Pittsburgh, we sold our Chelsea apartment and made the 400 mile move to Western Pennsylvania—one 16 foot truckload at a time!  We alighted in a leafy Oakland neighborhood, two blocks from the University of Pittsburgh.  In some ways, our neighborhood has the (diluted) feel of the area surrounding NYU—a tidal pool of bustling student life which rises and...

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Fine Crystal

Tiny explosions of violet crystals burst-forth from this unique glaze by Wendelin Stahl.  A muted teal underglaze provides a sophisticated contrast.  Wendelin Stahl and his wife, Else, ran a ceramics studio in a German castle in Klotten, Burg Coraidelstein.  They are considered amongst the top Modernist ceramicists in Germany.  Click upon the photo above to learn more about this piece.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Joy to the Swirl!

From the island of Bornholm, Denmark, comes this heavy, handcrafted bowl by Michael Andersen and Sons.  Hand-impressed rim decor encircles a swirling interior—which still bears the fingermarks of the potter.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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The Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old. From angels bending near the earth, to touch their harps of gold. "Peace on the Earth, goodwill to men," from Heaven's all-gracious King. The World in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing. - Edmund Sears (1849)   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Christmas on the Moon ?

Christmas on the Moon?  This Mid-Century vase, made by Carstens, is at once rocketship modern and as rustic as the caves at Lascaux.  Highly-textured cratering adds a rough-and-tumble sensibility to this piece—suitable for a Modernist or Arts & Crafts interior.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Middle Eastern Modernization

Western artists and designers have long been intrigued with an Eastern aesthetic—whether from the Far or Middle East.  This bowl, made in England in the 1930's, has tapped the rich legacy of centuries-old Middle Eastern hand-painted tileworks—the colors turquoise and cobalt and the use of striking graphic elements, combined in swirling, star-like patterns.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.. LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).   Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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The Studio Look

Although this piece of West German ceramics was made by Jasba—with modern, post-war production methods—it has the texture and feel of a "studio piece," one made by a much smaller, "artistic" workshop.  Please click on the photo to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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American Futurism

Reminiscent of a vented wall panel on a Star Wars space shuttle, this American Art Deco rose bowl was made by Roseville in the 1930's.  The Futuristic ribbing, combined with the simple matte white glazing, makes for a piece which works in any environment—and, yet, is not at all boring.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Otherworldly

This sensuous vase by Ruscha, is clothed in a dappled violet & steel glaze treatment—reminiscent of some otherworldly planet, moon or celestial being.  I rarely find purple vases and—even more often—don't really like them.  Needless to say, I LOVE this vase.  I find the swirling glaze to be extremely comforting and satisfying. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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More Soft Deco

As I mentioned before, I love the softness of English Art Deco.  Unlike it's American counterpart, English Deco pieces seem to have been placed in a gentle tumbler, softly removing any sharp edges. The ashtray shown above was designed by artist Keith Murray for Wedgwood.  Born in New Zealand, Keith's family moved back to England when he was 14.  Although he studied architecture, he was hired by Wedgwood to help execute their new strategy:  to create good-looking ceramic items which could be produced with mass production technology.  Wedgwood realized that young customers (in the 1930's) had good, modern taste, but often little money.  They wanted to produce items which this demographic could afford and would buy.  Unlike other Art Deco...

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The Sunshine Tree

This summer, while in Oxford, I was corrected when I complemented a friend's "Conservatory."  "Actually," she said, "it's an Orangerie." I was informed—and shall always remember—that a conservatory has a lot more glass, including the ceiling and (mostly) glass walls.  An Orangerie often has brick or wooden walls (albeit with windows) and a glass ceiling.  While you may not have an Orangerie, you could certainly have this English Art Deco footed bowl, decorated with painted orange trees.  The pattern was designed in 1925 by Norman Keates for Crown Ducal.  It would look great in the kitchen (with fruit), handsome in the entry hall (for letters), or elegant in the bathroom (with fancy soaps).     LEO Design's Greenwich Village store...

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Old is New

Though this West German Modernist vase was intended for an avant garde interior, there is no denying it has an old soul. Its shape, for starters, is based on that of an ancient stele—those large, important and sometimes crude slabs of stone, often embellished with decoration or writing, used as commemorations, grave identifiers or boundary markers.  The Rosetta Stone is amongst the most famous (and important) such stele.  Then there's the texture of the ceramic and its complex, stoney glaze which implies old age.  But for a bold, blue band, everything about this piece contradicts its Mid-Century Modern provenance.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed....

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Aqua = Life

Does anyone dislike aqua?  Sure, one person might prefer a little more blue—another might fancy a little more green.  But, at the end of the day, "aqua" means "water" and water means life. It's a hard color to hate. Shown above, a handsome English Arts & Crafts vase, attired in a richly-dappled aqua glaze.  It was made by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian in the 1920's and it would provide a refreshing splash in any room—or any season.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow...

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Easy Green

Kermit's lament to the contrary, I find green a very easy—and comforting—color for decorating.  Of course, I love dark wood and what looks better with dark wood than leafy greens?  But even in stark, Minimalist Modern interiors, green can provide a softening touch—a bit of nature in an otherwise glassy-steely environment.  This vase, made by Ruscha, provides an organic color and a random, primordial aesthetic—very natural indeed.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about this piece.    LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"...

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Year 'Round Sunshine

One of the nicest pieces of pottery I've collected this year is this sensational English Arts & Crafts vase by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian.  Made in England in 1912, it is the perfect balance of sophisticated Orientalism and naive handcraft. You'll re-live memories of  sunny summer days every time you look at it.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Pottery on Parade - part V

Let's end our Parade of Pottery with this piece—from across the English Channel—from France. In 1944, as WWII was raging, four young Paris bohemians elected to flee The City of Lights rather than risk being pressed into the service of the enemy Germans.  They moved South to safety and settled in Cluny, which was a bit farther from the German line.  They found work in a local ceramics workshop and learned the craft of the potter.  On the side, they began making ceramic buttons, strictly for their own use. In 1945, once the war had ended, they got a call from a friend in Paris—Christian Dior—who placed an order for 300 ceramic buttons. He was working on a new look (The New...

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Pottery on Parade - part IV

In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, Westerners were fascinated with "The Orient." Art, architecture, fashion, jewelry and music of the time were influenced by Eastern aesthetics.  Orientalism is the (sometimes despised) practice of Western artists adopting and appropriating Asian and Middle Eastern styles, themes and motifs into their European art. Personally, I don't reject Orientalism; I rather like it.  But, rather than view it as an authentic representation of another's culture, I think of Orientalism as something wholly new and unique—the re-interpretation (and adaptation) of Eastern aesthetics through Western eyes. The English Arts & Crafts vase, shown above, was made by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian around 1905.  It seems to have been inspired by Chinese ceramics—or, perhaps, inspired by...

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Pottery on Parade - part III

If you've ever visited Leighton House in London—the home and studio of painter Frederic Lord Leighton—you'll never forget the blue ceramic tiling in the ground floor receiving room.  The English Arts & Crafts piece above, made by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian in the 1910's, is a kissing cousin of the ceramics to be found in the artist's home. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. More handsome art pottery tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Pottery on Parade - part II

Bearing a remarkable (perhaps Impressionistic) resemblance to the Earth as seen from space, this Ruscha West German rosebowl is dressed in watery shades of blues, purples and greens. Ruscha's glaze master was Herr Otto Gerharz who developed many incredible glazes for the company before leaving to form his own pottery workshop.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about this piece. More handsome art pottery tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Pottery on Parade - part I

One of my favorite things to collect is ceramic art pottery.  I think of it as "jewelry for the home."  And I know I'm not alone;  the world over, since the dawn of time, people have been making and using clay pottery.  In fact, some of the oldest human artifacts found in archeological digs is ceramic works—both utilitarian and aesthetic.  There's a pleasing tactility to ceramics.  With the nicest pieces, one can almost feel the potter's spirit while holding a piece made in his or her hands.  For the next few days, I'd like to share some of our newest art pottery finds with you. Shown above, an East German Vase made in the 1960's or 1970's.  For a piece made...

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Rookwood Pottery

As American art pottery studios go, Rookwood has always been one of the more artfully-minded workshops.  It also has a very interesting history. In 1876, Cincinnati heiress and art lover Maria Longworth attended The Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia—where the ceramics presentation held particular interest for her. Alas, the American entries proved anemic; indeed, the rest […]

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Crisp and Clean

Summer’s here!  And nothing says summer more than Blue and White!  Here’s a sensational English piece, hand-thrown in the 1930’s by Edward Thomas Radford for Pilkington Royal Lancastrian.  One can still see the soft, horizontal ribs left behind by the potter’s fingertips. And the soft, white glaze has a wonderfully tactile quality—one just wants to […]

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Simple and Strong

I’ve been acquiring a lot of English Art Deco ceramics lately so I wanted to share something made here in the U.S.  Shown above, a piece of Roseville with the mottled blue Tourmaline glaze.  It was made in the Thirties and has a crisp, sculptural, architectural design.  This particular Art Deco shape was glazed in […]

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Neat and Tidy

Ah, those were the days.  Simple days when keeping order was so much more…achievable? And every possible need was satisfied in a stylish manner.  Take the French ceramic comb dish, shown above.  It would have sat upon a man’s (or woman’s) dresser (vanity) holding his comb between uses.  It may have been part of a […]

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La France Ensoleillée

Sunny France!  Like a ray of holiday sunshine from the Côte d’Azur, this hand-thrown and hand-painted ceramic vase fairly vibrates with summer radiance.  It even evokes the lemony citrus which grows along the Mediterranean coast.  Only, this piece was not made along France’s southern coast.  It came from just outside the city walls of Paris, […]

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Edwardian Encouragement

Feeding a young child can be a challenging experience.  Why, it’s so much more fun to just play with the food!  And, perhaps, this has always been the case.  To help encourage a little eater, an Edwardian English parent (probably a mother, possibly a nurse) used this handsome “Baby’s Plate” to quicken the task.  Buried […]

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British Summer Sky

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”  –  Henry James The American novelist, Henry James, spent time in England.  Perhaps it was here that he enjoyed the best of possible “Summer Afternoons”—out in the English countryside.  There is something incomparable to the gentle warmth […]

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Armada Britannia

Everyone remembers the Spanish Armada—which is funny, considering that Spain lost the altercation.  Spain launched its Armada of 130 vessels in 1588 with the goal of overthrowing England’s Queen Elizabeth I.  Spain had several reasons for the attack.  First, Spain had never accepted Elizabeth as the legitimate heir to the British throne as she was […]

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Escalier Français

I’ve received a shipment of European art pottery recently—and as I clean, price and photograph everything, I will share them with you here and on Instagram (leodesignhandsomegifts). Shown above, a handsome French Art Deco piece from the 1930’s.  Architectural “steps” are softened with an organic, dripping, crystalline glaze.  Made by Pierrefonds, this vase looks sensational […]

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Southwest Inspired

Yesterday, we shared a pair of antique bookends which featured an American Indian chief. While not strictly Arts & Crafts, the bookends would compliment nicely any Craftsman interior.  Likewise, the American Art Deco vase, shown above, is inspired by the shape of American Navajo ceramics.  It was made in the 1930’s—somewhat after the Arts & […]

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Ceramics on Sale!

Four days to go.  Why not beef-up your art pottery collection? With LEO Design closing in four days, all merchandise is now 50% off.  Please come into the shop and treat yourself to something special (and on-sale!).   LEO Design will be closing its doors on 31 January.  Please visit the store (or website) where […]

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One Week More!

On this day next week, the trucker comes to pick-up the store fixtures (and any remaining merchandise) and drive them to my rented storage unit in Pennsylvania.  Save his (and my) back by shopping at LEO Design—where everything is marked-down.  All merchandise, on-line and in-store, is now at least 25% off—and many things have been […]

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Secession

When I use the term “secession,” I am usually referring to the turn-of-the-century Austrian design school “Secessionism.”  This month, secession takes on a new meaning:  LEO Design will be succeeding from its Greenwich Village home of the last 22 years.  Please come-in and see us before our 31 January closing date.  All merchandise is on-sale. […]

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Swept Away!

A sea of blue vintage art pottery awaits—and it’s all on sale.  Alas, we are closing our Greenwich Village store.  Thus, all merchandise (in-store or on-line) is now (at least) 25% off—making it the perfect time to buy a little something for yourself (by which to remember us).  Some store merchandise is marked 50 – […]

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Get Used to It!

Although I love this bull—sculpted in stoneware by Danish artist Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen—the other kind of bull has left me depleted (and we haven’t even reached Inauguration Day!).  Buy him now, before we close our store, and get him for 25% off.  Please come into the shop to see him or click on […]

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Feeling Blue

Art pottery has always been a LEO Design strong suit—and we still have many beautiful pieces.  Please come in to see our collection—all on sale. All merchandise (in-store or on-line) is now (at least) 25% off—making it the perfect time to buy a little something for yourself (to remember us by). LEO Design will be […]

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