In the world of ceramics, I have always treasured wonderful glazes—even more than I value form. A great form, once sculpted, can be duplicated endlessly. And, in many cases, form is easy for someone else to copy. Art pottery companies in the Twentieth Century would frequently sell their old moulds—or their employees would be hired-away by competing firms. After the Coca-Cola bottle was design in 1915, it was produced in the millions (billions?) for worldwide distribution—and has become an iconic feature of the global Coca-Cola brand. But no artistry or reinvention is necessary to keep that wonderful form in the marketplace (besides aggressive lawyers who guard vigorously the bottle's trademarked shape).
Glazes, on the other hand, hide many secrets. Whereas a pottery might sell its old moulds, glaze masters would rarely reveal their secret glazes—complex recipes of chemicals and ingredients, fired at precise (and guarded) temperatures for specific (and undisclosed) lengths of time. A winning glaze usually emerges after long and tedious rounds of experimentation. And every attempt must be recorded accurately, in detail—so that the glazer may repeat the process in the future. Even with great diligence, glaze production is subject to numerous vagaries and variations. So, in some cases, a glaze could be a one-time, unrepeatable event. In these cases, no two pieces are exactly the same.
The French two-handled urn by Pierrefonds, shown above, has much to recommend it. Yes, the form makes a wonderful statement—be it Classical, Art Nouveau or Art Deco. But the glaze! Splatters of crystallized blues—electric combinations of darker and lighter shades—are juxtaposed on an earthy, drab olive background. And the crystallized blues are stunning themselves, reminiscent of an aerial photograph of water bodies shrinking on an arid plain. Click on the photo above to learn more about this amazing piece.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248