Thursday 21 August 2008

Guest blog: West German Ceramics

We're thrilled to welcome to Elle Deco's guest spot today, Adelle and Justin from vintage online store, H is for Home. They've written a fabulous post for us about a growing trend in the vintage market, and one of their passions.

Collection of West German vases

Thanks so much for asking us to contribute to the Elle Deco blog. We're taking a look at mid-twentieth century West German pottery.

After a period of time being generally 'out of fashion' these amazing ceramics are being appreciated once more for their style and eccentricity. They are now regularly seen gracing the pages of design and interior magazines.

The range of colours, shapes, textures and sizes is mind-boggling!

Collection of West German vases

Some pieces are hand-thrown, others are mass-produced, stock shapes. However, as with the Poole 'Delphis' Pottery range, even these stock shapes can be transformed by the textures and the individual glazes in every colour imaginable. Pieces range in size from a mere three inches to well over twenty inches tall for the larger floor vases.

West German vase with impressed detailing
Impressed 'thumbnail' detailing

Lava glaze detail
Frothing lava glaze

Incised West German vase
Incised decoration

Colourful West German vase
No rules with colour combinations!

Base detail of West German vase
Typical base markings

A number of factories produced these characteristic ceramics - Baykeramik, Carstens, Dumler & Breiden, Jopeko, Roth, Ruscha and Scheurich to name but a few. Much has still to be learned about which company produced what. Some factories produced pieces with distinctive base markings such as the crossed swords of Dumler & Breiden, however the majority of pieces simply have serial number markings (often accompanied by 'German' or 'W. Germany'). You may be lucky enough to find a piece with the original paper label, otherwise you're in for a bit of detective work. Fat Lava book by Mark Hill

There hasn't been a great deal published on West German ceramics from this period, however Fat Lava, by Mark Hill (from Amazon UK)is a good starting point - it outlines the main factories and is packed with good quality colour photos.

In fact, the book was written to accompany an exhibition of German pottery from this period held at King's Lynn Arts Centre in 2006.

Another breathtaking fat lava exhibition that recently took place was of Marieke van Diemen's collection at Boymans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam.

Other places to find out more are GinFor's Odditiques, Outernational, fat-lava.com and An Seta Pottery.

If you need any help in identifying pieces that you find, try the nice and very knowledgeable folks at 20th Century Pottery Art & Collectibles.

The pots work well displayed in groups of either similar or contrasting colours. The larger floor vases look great as stand-alone pieces.

Our particular favourites are the fiery oranges and reds, particularly ones with the bubbling lava glazes. We've built up quite a collection, but good examples are getting harder to find and prices are rising steadily.


In addition to vases, examples of West German pottery can be found in the form of lamp bases and shades, wall plaques, plates and bowls.



Bright colours & sculptural forms are much sought after

Trio of West German vases
Trio of small, red and brown West German vases, 4-6 inches tall

Trio of 1950s West German vases
Trio of incised vases - classic 50s shapes

Blue West German vase
Blue vase with original Scheurich paper label

Trio of West German floor vases
Huge floor vases

West German vase with rustic stool and knitted cushion
Provides striking accent colours


We hope you've enjoyed looking at some of our collection. Have a look at the West German Pottery Collectors group on Flickr to see some more examples from us and other members. If this blog has inspired you to start your own collection, then happy hunting!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

another great specialist site for West German Pottery/Fat Lava is:

http://potteryandglass.forumandco.com/