Art Pottery
Seems like forever since I have added a page to the website; probably over a year.  People write and ask why I stopped.  It is complex; I am uncertain.  Not always so easy to comprehend what the motivations are - when I get to scribbling I just open up like a spigot, and  then I write into an environment I have created, composed of those who enjoy seeing what I have done.  This website has never existed in a vacuum, no matter how far off the beaten trail it is.  Even if no one else read here, no one but me, the writer, there are still so many of me that an audience would exist.

It is an environment with checks and balances built in, and it is not so simple to ignore the feedback I receive.  There isn't a shadow of a chance of me stopping being who I am on the page, but there is the pause when I consider.  What is it I am considering?  Maybe the simultaneous elongating and shortening of time as I work my way into my sixties...  Explanations are difficult.  I find myself pausing just when it would appear I have less and less time to pause.  I guess the pause, too, has content.  Forgive me if I sound as if I am penning gobbledegook.  I am not a deep person, and hopefully all this won't get you thinking I want to appear as more than I am. 

I have often thought, in the last year, of writing, but my stories just seem to have dried up. I have written reams in my head, but the thoughts are so ephemeral the life to last until the page appears blankly before them wasn't in them.  I upset some folk very much with what was written last year, and it took the wind out of my sails.  Or maybe I just got stuck with rudder amidships, going nowhere in particular.  Mulling.  There are only so many years left for me to be me, and I won't change, regardless of flack and criticism; I wouldn't know how, but I found I was deeply stung.  Some of it has to do with a decades-old quandry for me:  definitions of friendship.  I am a bred in the bone cynic who still finds time to stumble when I guess wrong.

The art pottery started, as they say, innocently enough.  We were visiting my friend Stuie just south of Madison, Wisconsin, and one day we stumbled into Dovetail Antiques in a small town nearby.  Several hundred dollars later we stumbled out.  We were the proud owners of several pieces of Ephraim Faience Pottery.  The habit has grown.  It has grown enough that I built in shelves over the room divider between the living room and dining room.  Pots were getting so crowded on the buffet that I was hearing rumblings of mutiny in the dark hours.  Pat was muttering, too.  I am not a really good woodworker, but I do get by.  Maine is a great place to pick up good dry oak for cheap.  And I do have a basement shop chock full of old machines.  The 'style' is my take on Arts&Crafts with influence from the Greene boys - right.
Left is a mix of V.B., Ephraim, and a Scott Draves Door Pottery cala lilly vase, which I echoed in a cutout in the large slat.  Scott deserves a word here as he was cofounder of Ephraim; he left after a couple of years to found Door.  You will note many shape and glaze similarities between the two, but they have been quite separate companies for several years.
The main point to this pic is the round rusty vase with the fern on it.  This is from the Roseville Windsor line.  It is a damn fine pot.  Could I but afford it I would own more of this line, but it ain't cheap.  Most Roseville I just roll my eyes at, but now and then they really hit it.
Here we have a piece of Chris Powell's pottery, the larger blue pot, and then one half of the fabulous Teco bookend set, Primate and Pelican.  I adore this guy and find myself petting him often.  Very much the gothic gargoyle.  There are two pieces of Niloak on the right.
Above left is the only experimental piece of Ephraim we own.  Next to it is Artus Van Briggle's wonderful Poppy design.  He was a fine designer who founded his own pottery and died almost immediately.  Artus was about 35 when tuberculosis claimed him.  His story is worth looking in to.  The Koi is a recurrent theme with Ephraim.
For starters, the tile is a great Rookwood design, but not an original - I didn't want to start robbing liquor stores this late in life to support the real thing.  The two V.B. elephant paperweights are from the 1920s and an absolute joy.  As with pottery that is finished by different workers the one has much better glaze contrast and detail.  Behind the lead elephant, Primo, is a nice V.B. piece in their Mtn. Craig brown with green overspray glaze.  This is probably the most sought after of their standard glazes, standard until 1935 when it ended.  The little pots were about a nickle apiece, in the '30s, and I think they were sold as party giveaways.
Don't know how this behemoth got in here - seems like I used to build these pages better....  It will probably go right off your monitor.  The red and green piece is Peters & Reed; a line they called Moss Aztec.  It isn't as fancy as the other pots, but many of the designs were from Frank Ferrell; he later designed some of the best of the Roseville lines, like the Pine Cone.  And here is Gothic's other half, the Pelican.  Love these guys.  Each of them has a chip on the back; otherwise I would never have been able to afford them.
From the left is a Chris Powell, a V.B. and two Ephraims.  The brown sticking up behind the V.B. is an Ephraim waiting to enter stage left.
The big piece on the right is a newer V.B.  Yes, they are still going.  It is a commerative piece.  I think I must have bought it in a moment of weakness.  It isn't bad; there are just other pots I would rather have the money in. The Pug is another half of a set of V.B. bookends, like the brown owls.  Behind is an Ephraim, and left is a Moss Aztec.
One of V.B.'s most famous designs is the Lorelei.  You can't really tell from this pic but the woman is wrapped around the vase top and looking down into the vase.  She needs to be handled to be appreciated - drop by.  This one is newer and in a matte black glaze:  Midnight.  An Ephraim, Nightshade, keeps her company.


Midnight's twin, left, is a white Lorelei, in Moonglo glaze.
Mostly Ephraims to the left, with a reticulated V.B. cala lilly in Aspen Sunrise glaze - the best of the current crop. The turtle was carved from a piece of oak almost 40 years ago; I nearly cut a thumb off in the process.  Somewhere along the line Zoe inked her name in bold strokes on its bottom.  I guess it is hers now.
More Ephraims with a sober Chris Powell sandwiched.  The Ephraim designs and glazes really are equal to the best of what came before.  I liked what someone said about them:  they are the Grueby of today.

Thus ends the tour of the new shelves.  There are other pots around the house - Pat has some of the best on her dresser.  And there are the tiles in their sometimes-strange homemade frames.  They all await another day.  don e.

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Don't know why it is, but scarabs seem a treat.  Ephraim did a nice scarab tile; they have become hard to find.  The little green guy is a Van Briggle.  I think it was Grueby that did one almost the same, but they sell for several times as much as this one cost.