Rebel with a vase: how to build a collection of ceramics

I’m a huge Clarice Cliff fan and hope to expand my collection. Advices ?

I am not at all a specialist in ceramics, yet I am a real enthusiast. In fact, I have a sort of addiction: I constantly scour eBay and online auctions for parts, and when I’m in my happiest place, a flea market, like a rat in a drainpipe, I walks past big chunks of furniture, flat out on a good rifle through all the dusty vases and pots, plates and jugs I can dig up.

Why is it? Well, I enjoy my ceramics every day. A vase with buds on a mantelpiece, a jug brought for milk at breakfast, a dish for soap. The bits I buy, I use.

Naturally, some parts are more useful than others, and some just stay there and look good. A Staffordshire figurine with rosy cheeks and a pencil mustache guarding the vegetables on our kitchen worktop, for example, offers no service, but certainly adds a dash of lively charm to the otherwise kitchen scene. rustic.

I buy for looks. This means that from time to time I may come across something a bit special; I will give in, buy, then keep the item on a high shelf, just to look at it. It also means that a chipped flea market plate will be just as thrilling, if I like the way it looks.

Small downside: thinking practically, we break a lot of things. Not a week goes by without at least one casualty and sharp shards being taken to the cemetery closet. My attitude is: you have to be careful with your stuff, but you can’t be precious. It’s just stuff, and if I’m really nervous about breaking a particular piece, I’ll banish it to a high shelf. Unless it’s too big for a high shelf.

Majolica turquoise eight-well oyster plate by George Jones, c1874

Conical sugar sieve by Clarice Cliff, c1930s

Conical sugar sieve by Clarice Cliff, c1930s

Earlier this year, I awkwardly walked into the 1970s ceramic camel we used as a drinking table between the armchairs in our living room: its head came off. Imagine the ensuing depression!

Now to Clarice Cliff. Cliff is known as one of the most influential ceramists of the 20th century. his work is collected and prized around the world. I have to be honest: I don’t care. It’s because of all that navy blue and bright orange, I’m afraid – not a favorite color combination. But don’t let me discourage you.

Before expanding your collection, I advise you to do good research. Christie’s, for example, has an excellent online collecting guide, as does the Antiques Trade Gazette. According to the Gazette, “One of the reasons Clarice Cliff pottery has been so attractive to collectors is that there is enough of it to make it accessible to a broad base of collectors, but not so much as to make it ubiquitous.”

There is even a Clarice Cliff Collectors Club, which is worth investigating. From what I’ve read, I understand that the shapes are as important as the decoration, which is why the conical shape of Cliff’s sugar sifters make them very collectible. Parbold Antiques in Lancashire is currently selling a brightly colored and very well preserved sieve for £1,200.

Mid-Century Italian Agate Urns

Mid-Century Italian Agate Urns

What am I into? A bit of a mix, really. I am a fan of earthenware, especially for the jugs, plates and vases decorated with shells and classic patterns. Martha Stewart’s Guide to Collecting Majolica is very helpful. He notes: “English-made pieces made by Wedgwood, Minton and George Jones from 1850 to 1900 – [are] wildly collectible in the United States and Great Britain.

I am currently coveting a George Jones Eight Well Oyster Plate made circa 1874, available through 1stdibs and a dealer in North Carolina for $2,895.

I like lustreware and creamware, pearlware and mochaware. I have a thing for agateware at the moment, a type of pottery created by mixing two clays of contrasting colors, producing a marbled effect. I recently came across a beautiful pair of mid-20th century Italian yellow agateware urns, also on 1stdibs, for $4,250.

I often turn to specialist retailers, even if I’m just window shopping. John Howard has a very good and efficient website full of wonderful, rare and sometimes rather unusual things, like a set of late 18th century agateware balls. (I absolutely don’t need them, but I really want them.)

I find the sheerness of the cream to be much appreciated in contrast to all that color and pattern: John Howard also sells a very elegant set of 12 shell-rimmed plates made by Wedgwood, together with a pair of cream vases in breathtaking with lion-headed masks, also from Wedgwood.

Wedgwood creamware shell lined plates

Plates lined with Wedgwood creamware shells, late 18th century

An impressive pair of Wedgwood creamware pottery vases with lion-headed masks circa 1765

Wedgwood creamery vases with lion-headed masks, c1765

So if you really want to expand your collection, do your research and enjoy the hunt. On the other hand, if you’re not too concerned with age, provenance, or rarity, choose things that speak to you aesthetically and that you can’t live without.

As for our decapitated camel: don’t worry, I found a local restaurateur a few
a few weeks ago, and he is currently having his head safely reattached by an expert. Banishment to a quiet corner will be required upon arrival
residence. His martini days are long behind him.

If you have a question for Luke about design and stylish living, email him at [email protected]. Follow him on Instagram @lukeedwardhall

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