News-Antique.com - Nov 25,2008 - What made California potteries special? Was it the clay they used in their production? Was it the beautiful pastel colors, their decoration, or their glazes? Was it the whimsy of their design or the mastery of the potters? It was all of these things put together!
Where were the California potteries? California potteries existed and produced marvelous items during the middle years of the 20th century. Many of the potteries were in and nearby Los Angeles – places like La Habra, Laguna Beach, Burbank, El Monte, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Pasadena, and more.
Many a garage in California was the original home of a fast-growing California pottery company. But they didn’t stay in garages; they didn’t stay small. WWII came along and took care of the foreign competition, and these small garage operations moved into factories that sold their wares to upscale stores like Macy’s.
The pieces produced by California potteries were distinctive, from the curlicues of Kay Finch to the heavy, large scaled items of Kaye of Hollywood. There was the childlike wonder of De Lee Art, the sophistication of Hedi Schoop Art Creations, the life-like animal figurines from Hagen-Renaker, the modern lines of Howard Pierce, the airy styles of Modglin’s pottery. There are the delightful faces of Yona Ceramics, dainty figurines from Josef Originals, and the many breathtaking pieces of Florence Ceramics. I could go on and on, for at one time there were more than 800 potteries in California.
But then WWII ended, and competition was back full-time – competition aided by the powers that be in Washington, DC, Japan looked around and decided to rebuild, using the abundant and practically free clay in the country. Our politicians helped them by refusing to put tariffs or import quotas into play. But California potteries fought back by refusing to lower their standards and quality. Japan won the ceramics war, though, and many California potteries quit production. Some, however, continued until the 1950s and 1960s.
What made California potteries special? It was their exquisite work. California potteries brought quality, vision, and art to fortunate collectors throughout the USA. Although it’s not possible to buy directly from the factories now, and even though some of the tags have been lost over the years, you can still find quality California pottery. The easiest way to find it is via the web, from trusted web sites like Tias and Go Antiques.