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Clarice Cliff (January 20, 1899 - October 23, 1972), was a ceramic artist active from 1922 to 1940.
Clarice was born in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, England. She studied at the Burslem School of Art in the evenings.
Her first job was as a gilder, and once she had mastered this she changed jobs to learn freehand painting at another potbank, then moved to A.J. Wilkinson's in 1916, to improve her chances of becoming a modeller.
This was an unusual start to an unusual career, most 'pottery girls' mastered a particular task and then stayed with that to maximise their income as they were paid by the piece. However, Clarice was ambitious and prepared to take wage reductions to start at the bottom to acquire a new skill, in the process acquiring a wide range of expertise including outlining, tube lining, enamelling, banding and modelling.
Eventually Clarice's wide range of abilities were recognised, and she was given an opportunity to decorate some of the factory's defective 'glost' (white) ware in her own freehand patterns. She covered the imperfections in simple patterns of triangles, vividly coloured in a style that was to become known as 'Original Bizarre'. To the surprise of the company's salesmen, this was immediately popular. She was provided with her own studio and another painter to assist, but this rapidly expanded to a team of around 70 young painters, mainly women but four boys - they hand painted the wares under her direction.
Between 1928 and 1936 she evolved a new range called Fantasque which featured cottages and trees, and then many Art Deco inspired paterns. These have proven particularly collectible nowadays. Through the depths of the Depression her wares continued to sell in volume at what were high prices for the time. Her Bizarre and Fantasque ware was sold throughout the world, North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, but not in mainland Europe. In Britain many top London stores sold it, including Harrod's, but never Woolworths as some have stated.