JOURNAL — Art Pottery RSS



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....

Continue reading



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...

Continue reading



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"...

Continue reading



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"  

Continue reading



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...

Continue reading



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...

Continue reading



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"  

Continue reading



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"  

Continue reading



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...

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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, […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 & […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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. […]

Continue reading



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 – […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



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 […]

Continue reading



Nouveau Nativity

Imagine a Nativity Play—staged during the Art Nouveau period—where the three magi bear their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh in beautiful hand-painted Dutch boxes such as this.  Made in the 1910’s or 1920’s, the bowl is covered with a lid which bears a stylish, hand-painted floral graphic.  Perfect for a desktop, dresser or coffee […]

Continue reading



Blu Italia

Modernist by way of folk craft—this Bitossi Italian ceramic vase is hand-incised and finished with a blend of green and blue glazes.  Let it whisk you away on an imaginary Mediterranean escape—while it sits on your desk, table or mantelpiece.       Today—and daily through 23 December—LEO Design will be open from Noon ’til […]

Continue reading



Dutch Pair

I’ve bought and sold many pieces of Dutch pottery over the years, most of them painted with stylized floral motifs.  On rare occasion I’ll find a piece with a graphic pattern—like the pair shown above.  Made in the 1910’s or 1920’s, they have a handsome (and oddly whimsical) Secessionist design—hand-painted in blues, browns, mustard and […]

Continue reading



Dutch Nouveau

Art Nouveau designers, no matter where they practiced, often tapped exotic, “Orientalist” themes as well as local historical, literary or cultural references.  Both of these influences come across (loud and clear) in this Gouda Danish Art Nouveau bud vase from the 1910’s. The shape of the vase—a genie bottle—has Middle Eastern origins.  And the tulip, […]

Continue reading



Cross-Border Beauty

What happens when a family of Belgian ceramicists open a workshop just across the border, in France?  You get the striking vase above, made by Emile Joseph L’Herminé in Orchies, France.  The family moved its operations from the Belgian village of Rebaix to Orchies—about 35 miles away.  They attracted and hired ceramics workers who had […]

Continue reading



Bearing Gifts

The season will soon be upon us.  Perhaps a handsome (and sizable) stoneware bear might be just the right gift.  Large enough to make an impact on any table, sideboard or mantelpiece, this bear was sculpted by Arne Ingdam in Denmark in the 1960’s.  Please come into the shop to see him or click on […]

Continue reading



Shades of Blue

Just as this piece of art pottery blends two different blues, so does it combine the aesthetics of both the Arts & Crafts and the Art Deco movements.  The voluptuous, organic shape and natural, matte glazing are right at home with the Arts & Crafts.  And the gentle suggestion of lotus petals recalls the Egyptian […]

Continue reading



Steely Cuneiform

Although the steely grey glaze gives these vases a cool, industrial sensibility, the impressed cuneiform-like patterning lends a tribal folk art warmth the the pieces.  Imagine the pair on a mantelpiece with white, bushy flowers like peonies or hydrangeas. Please come into the shop to see them—and all of our recently-acquired Handsome Gifts for the Holidays. […]

Continue reading



Mirror, Mirror

I cannot attribute the piece above which I recently bought in Europe. It is hand-thrown, signed by the studio (or the artist) and finished with a mirror-like gunmetal over warm brown glazing.  The only thing I do know is that I like it!  It’s a winning combination of classic, romantic form with cool (almost industrial) […]

Continue reading



Töpferei Hartwig Heyne

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I have become quiet partial to ceramics finished with deep ultramarine blue glazes.  I’ve been growing my in-store collection which includes the three pieces above, made in the 1960’s and 1970’s by “Hoy” in West Germany. Beginning in the 1850’s, Töpferie Hartwig Heyne (also known as “Hoy”) operated in […]

Continue reading



Perfect Simplicity

At first glance, this vase is easily overlooked—with its rather plain, perhaps utilitarian mien. But look closely at the shape with its classical (timeless) curves and perfectly-graduated form.  And the glaze, has a sophisticated, visually-textured surface.  While the glaze appears sandy, to the hand it feels perfectly smooth.  Millions of tiny little bubbles seem to […]

Continue reading



Extra-Terrestrial

For several months I’ve been growing my collection of “otherworldly” art pottery.  I have been on the hunt for pieces which remind me of foreign moons and planets; pieces with interesting glazes—usually in earthy, neutral shades like grey, whites and taupes.  They have formed an interesting grouping which expands and contracts as I acquire and […]

Continue reading



Modern Folk

Occasionally cool modernism melds with tribal folk art—creating an unexpectedly intriguing (and beautiful) new creation.  Shown above, a Scheurich West German Modernist drum-form vase, incised with hand-cut graphics and glazed with a steely-blue high-fired glaze.  It has the clean lines of Mid-Century Modernism while retaining the warmth and tactility of handmade folk craft.  Please come […]

Continue reading



Art & Science

The glazing of ceramics is both an art and a science—with a heavy emphasis on the latter.  So many factors can affect the outcome of the process: the materials used (and their quantities), how the glaze is blended, how the glaze is applied (and how thickly), any impurities (intentional or unintentional) in the kiln, the […]

Continue reading



Flow, Lava, Flow

Like molten lava flowing down the sides of a knuckled bamboo volcano, the swirling red and orange glazing on this Jasba West German Modernist vase conveys motion, danger and change.  Please come into the shop to see it in person or call us for further information.         See new merchandise first!  Follow […]

Continue reading



A Subliminal Suggestion . . .

I found this little fella in Pennsylvania, maybe a year ago.  Since then, I haven’t had the heart to put a price ticket on him.  No, instead he’s been sitting on the oak filing cabinet behind the sales counter—quietly radiating a subliminal suggestion to every customer and passerby. He was made in the 1960’s by […]

Continue reading



Gerhard Bauer

I’ve been loving my matte, saturated, ultramarine blue pottery lately—and have been really building my in-store collection.  Add a splash of gunmetal and we’ve got a winning combination!  Shown here, a West German piece by Gerhard Bauer made in the 1960’s. Please click on the photo above or come into the shop to see it—and […]

Continue reading



Otto Gerharz

Ruscha has become one of my favorite Mid-Century German potteries.  They were a mid-sized workshop—big enough to enjoy some economies of scale but small enough to maintain artistry and craftsmanship.  Perhaps the best part, to me, is the wonderfully inventive and beautiful glazes—the work of glaze master Otto Gerharz.  He led the company as Artistic […]

Continue reading



Remembrances of Trains Past

When I ride the U-Bahn (subway) in Germany, two things always impress me.  First, their are no turnstiles.  Passengers are expected to have a valid ticket—and undercover inspectors patrol the trains asking to see them.  And second, many of the stations are dressed in handsome—Ultra Sixties—glazed ceramic tiling.  The tiling has a Mid-Century-Handsome and strongly-utilitarian, […]

Continue reading



Boo!

Scare the neighbors—and their Trick-or-Treating kids—with this European ceramic wall plaque from the 1960’s. This sculpted, bas-relief “Aries” is a bold and expressive rendering of the zodiac character—who is also a notorious player from mythology and fable.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. LEO Design will be open from Noon […]

Continue reading



Just Judi

My favorite Modernism is that which leans back—to a time of organic forms, natural colors and quality, hand-worked craftsmanship.  The Judi Kunst vase, shown above, is just that. First the piece was hand-thrown, signed by the artist, and glazed with the earthy, dripping colors of browns, blues and greens.  Besides the fact that it was […]

Continue reading



Remembrances of Summers Past

Although the Autumnal Equinox was over a month ago—and, thus, the days are getting shorter and shorter—I thought we could use a refreshing breeze of summer just gone by. The vase above was made by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian in the 1930’s.  It was wheel-thrown by E. T. Radford and is signed with his initials.  The […]

Continue reading



Northern Wonder

I’ve recently received a shipment of vintage European art pottery including the two pieces shown above.  They are hefty, wheel-thrown “studio” pieces, from the 1960’s or 1970’s, and are glazed with a handsome blend of blues and tans.  Although they are marked by the potter, I don’t recognize the mark—which is incomplete and indecipherable.  What […]

Continue reading



Notes From the Road – part IV

The elegant piece of pottery, shown above, was made in Gouda, Netherlands, not in England.  It’s a real hand-painted beauty, made in the 1910’s or 1920’s, and it has a graceful “Orientalist” shape with applied Art Nouveau decoration—complete with stylized tulips. This piece is one of many Handsome Gifts which I’ve collected this week in England. […]

Continue reading



French Drip

Languid rivulets of crystalline, cornflower blue glazing trickle down the sides of this French Art Nouveau vase by Pierrefonds.  Its classic, Chinese form—fascinating to Fin de Siècle Westerners—is enlivened with the high-contrast two-tone glazing.  It would be just at-home (and impressive) in a cool Modernist or warm Arts & Crafts environment.  Please click on the […]

Continue reading



Strength, Intelligence & Beauty

Aren’t scales smart?  In animals, scales are the protective, bony plates that grow out of the creature’s skin.  Scales are also used in human armor.  In both cases, scales are meant to protect the animal within—while allowing him maximum ease of movement. Big, stable areas (like a snake’s belly) have fewer, larger scales—sometimes stretching from […]

Continue reading



Flipping the Switch on a New Age

On this day in 1882, Thomas Edison flipped the switch at his Pearl Street electrical generation plant, thereby electrifying one square mile of lower Manhattan—59 customers in all.  Having invented and patented the electric light bulb two years earlier, Edison had turned his attention to creating an electric delivery infrastructure to compete with similar utilities […]

Continue reading



Still Hot After All These Years

In my home state of Hawaii, the volcano Kilauea has been active lately and its lava has by now flowed all the way to the sea. Photos of the molten rock—liquid, orange, angry—show glowing, fiery streaks of the over-heated earth-core, still hot from the Big Bang, 4.6 billion years ago. Shown above, a West German […]

Continue reading



“Pooled Glass” Permitted

When I first heard the term “Pooled Glass,” I was suspicious.  I wondered whether it might be the type of smug and pretentious Collector Speak which I typically avoid (earlier known examples including “Alienware,” “Eastlake” and “Fat Lava”—each a term never used by the designers/craftsmen of the period to describe their creations).  With a little […]

Continue reading



Fly Me to the Moon

About a year ago, I started a new color collection of antique and vintage art pottery—ceramics glazed in highly-textured  neutrals: whites, browns and greys.  As the collection grew and evolved, I began to appreciate the grouping more and more.  And it has proven to be a popular collection sales-wise, too. Shown above, a piece by […]

Continue reading



Summer Afternoon

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon;  to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James Let’s savor the final weeks of summer with this particularly summery collection of Roseville Tourmaline art pottery.  The mottled blue glazing—which remind me of a Frank Benson summer sky—seems restful, gentle and, sadly, fleeting […]

Continue reading



The World Goes ‘Round

This piece of 1960’s Italian pottery has the reassuring sensibility of the Art Deco which preceded it.  First the spherical ceramic form was cast, fired, and then painted with its soft blue glaze.  After that it was placed atop a revolving surface and lines of colored glazes were applied to the spinning orb.  Made in […]

Continue reading



Leaning Forward

I buy plenty of Mid-Century art pottery—ceramics made in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s.  It was a period when ceramics production boomed in Germany, Italy and Japan.  After World War II, the “victor” countries (the U.S., England and France) found that their rising wages made it hard for high-production ceramics workshops to compete with the […]

Continue reading



Roseville White

Though I’ve bought and sold all types of matte white pottery over the years, I have always been especially fond of those pieces made by Roseville (Ohio, USA).  Their sculpted shapes are beautiful, the ceramic forms are always nicely-finished, and the matte white glaze has a soft, beautifully-tactile quality to it.  The collection above was […]

Continue reading



Warm Neutrals

Over the past several months, I’ve been building a nice collection of ceramics glazed in what might be described as “warm neutrals”—soft browns, warm whites and gentle greys.  Rich in texture, some are reminiscent of clouds,  some of coral, and some the craters on the Moon. They are Modernist without being cold, sterile or self-important. […]

Continue reading



Sixties Stag Party

And you thought Mad Men was over!  Not quite yet.  Shown above, a Danish Modern stoneware plaque by sculptor Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen.  Made in 1968, it was intended as a decorative object to hang upon the wall or it could be permanently mounted within a larger ceramics installation. On the plaque, two playful bucks cavort amidst a […]

Continue reading



A Fair Breeze Blows

Like that silly internet phenomenon which asked, “What color is this dress?”, this newly-acquired West German floor vase has proved to be a bit of a Rorschach Test in the shop. While I see fluffy clouds against a wonderful (sky) blue sky, others on staff insist that the glaze portrays courses of waves traveling toward […]

Continue reading



Italian-American

Rosenthal-Netter was an American import company who, after World War II, brought to America boatloads of tasteful Modernist decorative objects from Italy—principally ceramics. Rosenthal-Netter was in direct competition with Raymor, another successful American importer and both used some of the same Italian designers (for example, Aldo Londi) and factories (for example, Bitossi) to produce their […]

Continue reading



Sauvage Nouveau

When we think of Art Nouveau, we often think of whiplash curves, stylized floral motifs and a refinement of craftsmanship—lightness, elegance, delicacy. But the Art Nouveau also had a more rustic—more brutish—offshoot.  Like the Belgian Art Nouveau pitcher, shown above, this heavier aesthetic is seen most often in architecture (and especially its tile or ceramic […]

Continue reading



The Alligator Eye

Staring-out from this piece of 1970’s Modernist ceramics is an alligator’s unblinking eye—the work of world-famous Ecuadorian artist Eduardo Vega.  Born in Cuenca, Ecuador in 1938, Vega was steeped in his country’s long ceramics-making culture well before studying art in Spain and France.  After returning to his home country in the 1960’s, he was commissioned […]

Continue reading



Salt Glazing

The Medieval Germans invented salt glazing by accident—when a ceramics-maker ran out of fuel for his kiln (in mid-firing) and all he could find (quickly) were some broken pickle barrels to chop-up and throw into the kiln.  Apparently, the salt from the barrel’s wood reacted with the clay being fired, resulting in the lightly textured […]

Continue reading



An Octopus’s Garden

When I think of Ruscha West German Modernist art pottery, I usually think of vases—vases with wonderful dripping, complex and organic glazes.  Until I found the plaque above, which shakes-up my concept of Ruscha. Here sea grasses sway, anchored in a bed of blooming anemones, while bubbles bobble to the surface. Brown lobes of coral […]

Continue reading



Otto Gerharz

Otto Gerharz was a chemist and glaze master who worked for Ruscha Keramik.  In 1951, he developed Ruscha’s famous “Vulcano” glaze, most frequently found in a burnt orange color. Along with Kurt Tschorner (who designed many of the company’s shapes), Gerharz helped make Ruscha one of the better, cutting edge production potteries of the German […]

Continue reading



Matte White

Within my diverse matte white pottery collection, my perennial favorites are always those made by Roseville.  The shapes are beautifully designed and the pieces are always nicely-cast.  Most impressively, the satiny matte white glazing is always so satisfying—both to view and to hold.  And while the shapes were also glazed in other color ways, I […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part XII

Let’s conclude our parade of European art pottery with something extra-special.  From Belgium, during the period which straddles both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, comes this superb salt glazed vase by Roger Guerin with a custom-wrought iron mounting, quite probably by François Carion.  Salt glazing, which was developed in Germany during the Medieval […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part XI

I buy a fair bit of early 20th Century Dutch ceramics, especially from the Gouda region of the Netherlands.  And, every now and then, I come across a piece that is just a little different—such as the ceramic covered jar, pictured above.  Made in the 1910’s or 1920’s—in that nexus of the Art Nouveau and […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part X

At first glance, I skipped over this piece—what I thought was “just another dowdy, brown jug.”  But as I purchased other pieces from the collector, my eye kept wandering-back to the dowdy, brown jug.  And slowly, the jug began to reveal its charms. I began to warm to its graceful (dare I say sensuous?) shape. […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part IX

The ultramarine blue glazing fairly vibrates with richness on this Scheurich West German “floor vase” from the 1960’s or 1970’s.  The name “ultramarine” comes from the Latin “ultra marinus” which means “beyond the sea”—since the original ultramarine pigment came from grinding lapis lazuli brought from Afghanistan (very far away).  Because of the rarity of the precious […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part VIII

Among my new favorites is this little grouping of Italian Modernist hand-made ceramics by Fratelli Fanciulacci in Florence.  The pieces are clearly hand-built, given the size and weight variation from piece to piece—not to mention the wonderful randomness which comes from this type of labor-intensive, hand-incised decoration.  Unfortunately, the company was wiped-out with the flooding […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part VII

Mayan calendar? Pueblo target? Radioactivity warning?  No, no and no.  Shown above, a piece of Italian Modernist ceramics from the 1960’s with a hand-painted white graphic.  The perfect shape of the vase is finished with an interestingly modest, roughly-textured glaze, then finished with white hand-painting—not unlike a super-hip paleolithic cave decoration. It would look equally […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part VI

Like yesterday’s Czech ceramics, made under the influence of the Viennese Secessionist movement, the pair above are also from somewhere within the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire, c. 1910.  A deep cobalt blue glaze is subtly “punctuated” with metallic bronze glazing, creating an organic, almost botanical sculptural effect. Please click on the photo above to learn more […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part V

Secessionism was the Austro-Hungarian variant on the Art Nouveau movement—a turn-of-the-century design aesthetic which developed in many (mostly Western) countries and cultures.  The French had Art Nouveau, the English had Arts & Crafts, the Germans had Jugendstil and the Austro-Hungarians had Secessionism. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was vast—and (circa 1900) Vienna was its glittering seat-of-power.  Although […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part IV

While there are many things I like to buy, two things make me extra-happy:  nice pieces of pottery with earthy, crusty, red glazing and lidded vessels, suitable for holding one’s precious possessions.  The piece above ticks both of these boxes. Made by Ruscha (West Germany) in the 1960’s, there’s a satisfying voluptuousness to the piece—with […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part III

Artists and designers are always looking for inspiration.  Oftentimes, aesthetic trends might correlate to the day’s news or to discoveries far-removed from the world of interior design trends. Examples include the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 which encouraged an Egyptian Revival in the Art Deco movement of the next two decades.  Or the […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part II

Recently, we’ve received several large (and diverse) shipments of European art pottery and, over the next several days, we’d like to share some of the most interesting acquisitions with you. Shown above, a collection of “sea tones”—aqua, seafoam, sapphire, even “whitecap.”  And not only are the shapes and colors varied, so are the textures and […]

Continue reading



New European Ceramics – part I

We’ve just received several large shipments of European art pottery from various points on The Continent.  Over the next several days, we’ll be featuring a few of the highlights—pieces which exhibit the range of our new acquisitions.  Please peruse our on-line shop (where some of them have been already been listed) or come into the […]

Continue reading



In the Right Place at the Right Time

Made in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the American Modernist pottery shown above was made by Haeger in East Dundee, Illinois. German immigrant David Haeger founded the company in 1871—45 miles from Chicago—on the bank of the Fox River (a rich source of the needed clay).  Initially, the company made bricks.  In a twist of fate—in […]

Continue reading



Earth Toned

Here’s another color grouping of vintage art pottery—”earth tones”—from Italy, America and West Germany. Shown at center, a hand-painted two-handled Italian pot by Raymor. Raymor was the trade name of a larger American company which imported Mid-Century decorative pieces from Europe—much of it Italian ceramics.   Raymor cleverly (and accurately) assessed the tastes of the […]

Continue reading



Long, Long Ago (on an Island Far, Far Away)

Last summer I visited Crete, which is now part of Greece, and spent a day exploring the ruined Palace of Knossos and the archeological museum which holds many of its artifacts. Thus it was with great excitement that I first encountered the vase above.  Though the vase is Belgian Neo-Classical Art Deco (c. 1930), its […]

Continue reading



Spring Chickens

Come into the shop to see this sweet little pair of hand-painted ceramic chickens—a rooster and a hen.  They’re made in Southern California (where they are cast in vintage molds), and, while they aren’t antiques, they have a wonderful old-time coloration to them.         See new merchandise first!  Follow us on Instagram: […]

Continue reading



Orange You Tempted?

Under the spreading canopy of a copper and mica table lamp, a collection of orange mid-century pottery.  Orange is but one of many “color sections” in the shop—each section filled with handsome art pottery from the Late-Nineteenth through the Mid-Twentieth Centuries. Please come into the shop to see our vast collection of art pottery or […]

Continue reading



Countdown to Mother’s Day – part III

Another great gift idea for a wonderful mother is a nice piece of vintage art pottery—something pretty or something useful or both!  Of course, a nice ceramic bowl or vase looks great brimming with cut blossoms.  But, even when it’s empty, a beautiful piece of artfully-crafted pottery is a reminder of your kindness (and good […]

Continue reading



Countdown to Mother’s Day – part II

Another wonderful Mother’s Day gift—one that’s pretty, useful and bright.  It has had a long and interesting journey and it still looks great! In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, department stores were the premier shopping venues in American cities, East to West.  The very best department stores became the taste-makers for the carriage trade—and for […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part XII

Let’s end our showcase of recently-acquired European art pottery with this handsome piece by Bay, West Germany. For me it evokes a perfected underwater scene—perhaps like a stylized background found in an animated Disney film.  Scrolling latticework reminds me of a screened wall within a placid, underwater palace; flowering ropes of seaweed sway in the […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part XI

We hop back to West Germany, circa 1970, where we discover this intriguing ceramic jug.  A strong design—including a heavy strap handle—is finished with an unexpected two-part glaze of cornflower blue and mossy green.  The handsome matte finish is reminiscent of some British glazes of the 1930’s and 1940’s.  It was made by Karlsruhe in […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part X

Now a piece from England: a Pilkington Royal Lancastrian art pottery vase from the 1920’s or 1930’s.  With its vertically-ribbed, gourd-like form, it straddles both the Arts & Crafts and Art Deco movements. And the curdled citrus glazing evokes lemons, oranges and tangerines.  Its nice size, handsome form and bold coloration make it a real […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part IX

It’s not a shipment from Europe if it doesn’t have at least one piece of red pottery in it.  And here it is: a red and black glazed pot by Bay, West Germany.  Little squiggles provide surface decoration and texture—not to mention a ceramic topography resistant to the dominant red glaze.  Modernism meets Folk Art […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part VIII

When I was a boy, I read (and was captivated by) a book by Eleanor Cameron titled The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet.  Published in 1954, it followed the adventures of two California boys who responded to a mysterious classified ad in the newspaper.  The boys built a rocketship (as the ad requested) and […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part VII

We continue our parade of newly-received European art pottery with another Scandinavian participant, Jørgen Mogensen.  He was born in Denmark in 1927 and began his ceramics career (after art school) as an apprentice at Royal Copenhagen in 1949.  He worked with many of the Danish greats:  Knud Kyhn, Axel Salto, Gerd Bogelund and Nils Thorsson […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part VI

When I first saw this East German pitcher by Strehla, my mind went immediately to Pablo Picasso’s 1905 painting “Family of Saltimbanques” (in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC).  The hand-painted cubist, harlequin pattern would have made a perfect costume for one of Picasso’s sad circus performers.  There were only two problems: by […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part V

While this piece tempts me to reference “Under the Tuscan Sun,” it’s probably a bit more Italian Mediterranean Coastal than Florentine Hill Country.  Furthermore, it probably looks more like Jupiter than it does the Sun.  None of this matters; this 1960’s Italian glazed ceramic sphere transports me to a sun-baked Italian villa—where I’d happily spend […]

Continue reading



New European Shipment – part IV

Today we travel to Denmark, where the handsome piece above was crafted.  The glazing was created by (Swede) Nils Thorsson, one of the most prolific designers at Royal Copenhagen.  He began his career with the company at 13 years old, even before going to art school.  For many years, Thorsson served as Artistic Director for […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part III

This week we’re sharing selected pieces of European art pottery, recently received at LEO Design.  The piece above, made by Carstens in the 1960’s or 1970’s, has an otherworldly, “alien” sensibility to it.  “Moon craters” seem to rise from the chalky-white surface of the vase. It’s a wonderful example of form and color coming-together to […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part II

“Studio” art pottery is a hazy term, sometimes used to embellish the description of a ceramics piece which cannot be more-precisely identified.  Small workshops—indeed, individual potters—sometimes made beautiful and wonderfully inventive pieces, which some might consider a step up from the more-common, mass-produced wares.  And, in some cases, large manufacturers would foster a “studio line” […]

Continue reading



A New European Shipment – part I

We’ve just received several large shipments of art pottery from Europe—England, The Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and Eastern Europe.  Over the next dozen days, we’ll be sharing selected pieces with you.  You may also visit our Instagram account (“leodesignhandsomegifts”) or peruse our on-line shop where some of the pieces have already been listed. We start […]

Continue reading