Farmington Hills Local Global Ceramic Artist John Glick…

December 27, 2010
At Franciscan Pottery, I like to keep my eyes open for articles like this one; just wish I had caught it sooner!

Farmington Hills, Michigan's John Glick has a passion for pottery… 

"'To mold and shape a thing that is real, such as I do, is exciting,' said Glick.  "I like the immediacy and the changeability of ceramics.  I like to see what happens from a spark of an idea that then becomes a tangible object.'

''I'm encouraged by being in the presence of others' creativity," Glick said.  "It's as if I'm surrounded by fellow travelers doing their own examination of ideas.'

"Each year, Glick selects an artist-in-residence, not only to teach the young men or women, but to learn from them as well.  This year's artist, Brett Gray of Lake Orion, began working at Plum Tree Pottery in September."

Please read the full article by Karla Dorweiler here and learn more about John Glick and Plum Tree Pottery.

Who’da Thunk…?

November 23, 2010

We at the Franciscan Pottery Blog believe in higher education!


Studying pottery in college is relevant to life, prof says

The incorporation of art, science and language in ceramics makes it easy to relate to a university, said John Neely, accomplished ceramicist and USU ceramics professor.

Kieger Night 111910

  "As I start to list the things that informed my own journey – drawing, design, art history and all the obvious art stuff, but there's also history, chemistry, physics, material science, combustion engineering, language, literature – this list goes on and on," Neely said.

Read the full article by Steve Kent in The Utah Statesman here.

Caveat Emptor!

November 23, 2010

"

How safe is lead-free pottery? Not very safe says FDA"

The Food and Drug Administration, FDA, has received several reports from local and state agencies that traditional pottery from several manufacturers in Mexico labeled as “lead free” in fact contain levels of extractable lead comparable to levels that may be found in lead-glazed pottery. 

….

The FDA suggests the following:

  • Check the pottery if it appears to be handmade and has a crude appearance or irregular shape
  • Is it damaged or excessively worn?
  • If it is brightly decorated in orange, red, or yellow colors – it may be intended for decoration only and not for use to serve food
  • If you have pottery that fits any of these descriptions or are concerned of its safety, there are lead-testing kits sold in hardware stores and online.
  • Do not use the pottery if you cannot determine its safety
  • For questions and answers on lead-glazed traditional pottery, please go to FDA's website.
Read the full article by Nancy Zielinski, Grand Rapids Public Health Examiner, here

You won't have to worry with vintage Franciscan Pottery and Franciscan Ware by Gladding, McBean & Co. 

“From Socrates to Ceramics”

October 29, 2010
From Socrates to Ceramics
OWU’s ‘Thought Week’ encouraged students to dig deeper

(Franciscan Pottery loves Socrates!)

"Ohio Wesleyan’s House of Thought was founded on the principle of extending critical thinking beyond the classroom to the entire student body. So it comes as no surprise that OWU’s SLU (small living unit) hosted “Thought Week,” a series of events designed to encourage intensified discussion, thought, and promotion of ideas and perspectives of all members of the campus."

"Students explored their artistic sides on Saturday. The house hosted a free ceramics workshop. This event gave a larger number of students access to creating and discussing artwork."

Read the complete Connect2OWU article by Kelsey Kerstetter, class of 2012, here.

Pottery Painting at Pohick Regional Library

October 27, 2010
We at Franciscan Pottery enjoyed this: 

"Younger citizens of Burke got a chance to show their creativity at Pohick Regional Library yesterday. Inside of meeting room two, children ages 5-11 painted their very own ceramic bowl masterpieces.


"Every youngster diligently worked to create their own Picasso-esque masterpiece."

Read the rest of the article by Ryan Harty here.

Wedgwood family ‘devastated’

October 19, 2010

The Wedgwood family says it is devastated at the prospect of a unique pottery collection being sold off to plug a pension fund deficit.

 
"Waterford Wedgwood Plc went into administration in January 2009 and after the Museum Trust inherited its pension debt, fears escalated that it may have to sell valuable artefacts to fill the black hole."

Franciscan Pottery takes note of the latest news about the company that, in 1979, gobbled up the renowned California pottery Franciscan Ware / Franciscan Dinnerware with all its existing patterns (including the famous Apple and Desert Rose designs) and equipment (renaming it Franciscan Ceramic, Inc.) and, in 1984, eliminated all jobs, closed the last functioning California plant, and move production to England, ending more than a century of California pottery production heritage.

How does a true fan of the California days of Franciscan Pottery react to such news…?

Read the full BBC News article here.

Franciscan China at Replacements

October 10, 2010
Replacements, Ltd.
Franciscan China

Gladding, McBean & Co., began production of Franciscan dinnerware in 1934 at their plant in Glendale, California. Gladding, McBean & Co. formed in 1875 to produce sewer tile for the then expanding American West. Over the years they acquired several regional potteries and expanded their product lines several times to include roof tile, decorative art tiles, garden pottery, and art pottery.

Originally, the dinnerware line was sold as Franciscan Pottery and included solidly colored, bright earthenware in the casual style of Mexican folk pottery. This informal tableware was a warm friendly note in the midst of the Great Depression and the company selection of the Franciscan name, an allusion to Franciscan monks, further played into the Southwest imagery. 1930’s Franciscan patterns, with names like El Patio, Coronado and Montecito, enhanced the California casual style and sold well. The name was altered to Franciscan Ware in the late 1930’s to allow for a more upscale and broader image. Shortly thereafter, the company introduced raised relief, handpainted patterns that proved hugely successful. Two of these, Franciscan Apple (1940) and Franciscan Desert Rose (1941) are the only continuously produced Franciscan patterns, and remain in production today. Franciscan Desert Rose has become the most sold American dinnerware of all time. Other handpainted patterns such as Ivy, October and Fresh Fruit became quite popular during this time. One of the most desirable and difficult to find Franciscan patterns for collectors is Wildflower, a handpainted and many colored tribute to the flora of the American west. It was produced for no more than three years.

The entry of Gladding, McBean & Co into the dinnerware market was made possible in part by the arrival of Frederic and Mary Grant. Frederic was a ceramics engineer and previously had been president of the Weller pottery in Ohio. Mary was a successful stylist whose designs drove the first two decades of production at Franciscan. A number of other artists created designs and modeled shapes but the Grants worked together in their successful control of Franciscan products.

Some of the best of the Grants influences can be seen in their Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York’s Thirteenth Exhibition of Contemporary American Industrial Art in 1934. Two objects designed by the Grants appeared in this exhibition as Gladding, McBean products: a large satin gray bowl and a lemon yellow vase. In the same exhibition of 1940 “a bowl and platter designed by Mary K. Grant: made by Gladding, McBean & Co.” was again honored. This acclaim for Mary’s work continued in 1951 when an exhibition called Good Design by the Museum of Modern Art, New York selected the Encanto shape for exhibition. Encanto shapes went into production as fine china and sold with great success throughout the 1950’s. Extensive advertising and numerous new patterns on the shape kept the classic shapes alive and vital in the market place.

Franciscan introduced their Fine China line in 1942. This was marketed as Franciscan Masterpiece China after 1958 and production continued in the United States until 1978. The Franciscan name appeared on fine china from around the world after that time, but will bear a backstamp indicating the country in which it was produced.

The 1950s marked the departure of the Grants and the arrival of other design influences for Franciscan. The Eclipse “American Modern” shaped patterns of 1954 included Starburst. Starburst would prove a radical departure from prior tradition and used an irregular shape and abstract radiant stars resulting in a very modern earthenware pattern. Today it is collected as some of the best design work from the Modern 1950’s.

In 1954 designer George James created an artware line for Franciscan called Contours. It used fine china forms, two tone colors and fluid, graceful shapes to create bowls, covered dishes, trays, candlesticks and more. The contours line was very “new” for Franciscan in the 1950’s quest for modernism.

By the 1960’s and 1970’s “casual dinnerware” made of earthenware was very popular and surpassed the sales of fine china of all types. Franciscan followed this trend, successfully marketing various patterns on their Hacienda shape in ’60’s colors of harvest gold and avocado green. In the ’70’s informal earthenware lines such as Franciscan Madeira and Picnic rose to popularity.

Franciscan survived the competitive ceramics market and the entry of plastic onto Americans dinner tables by having production of china made in Japan beginning in 1960. The Japanese Cosmopolitan fine china and earthenware Whitestone lines were marked changes for this historically California based producer.

At the pinnacle of its fame, Franciscan pieces were purchased by some of America’s most famous families. Noteworthy are the 1961 order by Jacqueline Kennedy for Masterpieces China to be used on Air Force One and the 1969 selection by the Richard Nixons of Franciscan Masterpieces China for service aboard the Presidential yacht. Other orders for special services for royalty from around the world were also filled.

A series of mergers and sales contributed to the closure of the American Franciscan factory in 1984. In 1962, Franciscan became part of a large ceramic giant, International Pipe and Ceramics Corporation, known as INTERPACE. In 1979 Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, LTD of England acquired Franciscan from INTERPACE, and renamed the company Franciscan Ceramics, Inc. American production of Franciscan Ware ceased in 1984, following the announcement to relocate all Franciscan production to England. In the year 2000 “Johnson Brothers/Franciscan, a member of the Wedgwood Group” markets Franciscan china in the U.S. from production facilities around the world.

If you would like more information regarding your Franciscan China pattern, please click here to register for free inventory availability updates, sent via e-mail, FAX, or U.S. mail. Replacements carries over 550 Franciscan China patterns and can help you locate hard to find Franciscan China patterns or pieces.

Sources:

Page, Bob; Frederiksen, Dale; Six, Dean; Robinson, Jaime.

Wow! There it is in a (rather large) nutshell: A synopsis of the rise and demise of Gladding, McBean & Co.’s Franciscan Pottery, one of the great California producers of popular dinnerware and fine china for fifty years in the mid-twentieth century

And what great pictures!

“LIfe of An Architect” shares his thoughts on Franciscan Ware… Enjoy!

September 30, 2010

"What I have is Franciscan Ware, or Franciscan Pottery as it was first named in 1934. It was manufactured by Gladding-McBean and Company of Glendale, California and they literally made thousands of patterns. The most popular now is probably the “Starburst” pattern they made between 1954 and 1957. If 1950′s modernism is something that you have even a remote interest in, you have either heard of or seen this pattern before."

Read the full article  here.

He's got some really nice photographs.  Here's a sample.  See them all at his blog.

We are envious!

What is that garage sale item worth anyway…?

September 25, 2010
Handy pointers if you're putting on a Garage Sale — or going to one!  

Some excerpts:

"1.   Avoid the "it's old" trap. Just because something is old does not mean it is valuable. (This is especially true in the clothes department.) Old is not automatically vintage nor antique. Something is not technically an antique unless it dates over 100 years ago. It may be vintage if it is from a certain generation and regarded as "collectible." Familiarize yourself with some tell tale signs of age, such as marks, imprints, zip codes, and the like."

Remember that value is always in the eye of the beholder. And fair market value is what "a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to pay." Sure as shooting, the quarter items tend to march out the door faster the $5.00 ones. On the other hand, the Franciscan pottery marked at $5.00 is going to leave in a hurry as well.  

Article by Lisa Payne in the Kansas CIty Examiner. Read the whole article here.

Fundamentals of Pottery in Tulsa

September 24, 2010

 C.J. "Jeff" Wells teaches aspiring ceramic artists the joys of working with clay.

"We opened up about seven years ago as a teaching studio rather than just as a production studio," said Jeff.  "In fact the class here right now is a TCC class, the students come over here to take the class."

Check it out if you're in the area…