The Winter's Chill—bitter though it is—brings with it a sense of freshness, cleanliness, purity. The color white often symbolizes a snowy, cold expanse. But I also feel that blue—the color of sky, water and ice—can express beautifully the cleansing wintry freeze. For the next few days, we'd like to present an array of handsome blue ceramics, from many different countries, which might bring a little beauty to this otherwise frosty season.
In 1889, brothers Edward and Alfred Pilkington were in the coal business. One of their new, prospective mining sites, in Clifton—on the outskirts of Manchester—proved to be a bust. Sited alongside Fletcher's Canal, the mineshafts only produced water and clay. But this clay was perfect for making decorative tiles which were extremely popular at the time. Nearby coal sources could provide the fuel to fire the kilns. And the canal (and railways) allowed for the easy transport of finished product. By 1891, Pilkington Lancastrian was born. The company hired very talented artists and technicians, including designer Charles Voysey and ceramicist William Burton from Wedgwood, and, before long, the company's reputation had taken-off. Initial works were in the Arts & Crafts style, followed by Art Deco-influenced products. Pilkington began producing decorative items for fashionable homes (vases, bowls, plates) and the company burnished its reputation at various exhibitions and world's fairs. In 1913, King George V and Queen Mary visited the home of Lord Derby, an enthusiastic collector of Pilkington Lancastrian Pottery. They royal couple was so impressed with the ceramics that they issued a "Royal Warrant" to the company which was then allowed to call itself "Pilkington Royal Lancastrian." The company stopped producing decorative art pottery in 1938, focussing on tiles (once again). Today, Pilkington is known for making glass "windscreens" (windshields) for automobiles.
The Arts and Crafts vase, shown here, is finished in a beautiful, dappled cobalt glaze. While handsome when standing empty, it looks even better holding a small arrangement of flowers. Imagine a grouping of gardenias clustered above the vase. The corseted form of this vase is ideal for keeping a modest arrangement pulled tightly together. Yet the bulbous, bottom-weighted form provides the right visual balance against the flowers displayed above. Click on the photo above to learn more about this handsome 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