Category Archives: Mid-Century Modern

Heath Ceramics receives National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt – Smithsonian Design Museum

California-based Heath Ceramics, well known to many Etsy vintage sellers and mid-century design fans, received the 2015 National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

Heath Ceramics Award NPR Story
Photo by Mandalit del Barco via NPR.Org

The award category is the Corporate and Institutional Achievement for Product Design, Industrial Design, Crafts.

From the Cooper Hewitt Museum about the National Design Awards…

The National Design Awards celebrate design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and seek to increase awareness of design by educating the public and promoting excellence, innovation, and lasting achievement in American design.

Read more about Heath Ceramics and the National Design Award on this National Public Radio Report (NPR) here.

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Heath’s Sea and Sand glaze, coupe shape dinner plates. You can click on the image to view the listing in my Etsy store.

You can also listen to the radio broadcast by art desk correspondent Mandalit del Barco (featured on the program All Things Considered on 10/15/2015) here.

More about the Cooper Hewitt Museum, founded in 1897 by the granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper…

Cooper Hewitt Museum About

Heath Ceramics items were among my first listings when I opened up my Etsy Vintage Store this summer, and represented my 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th sale, right after the sale of vintage Dansk, Fiesta Ware and Pyrex items.

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A Heath ceramics collector who bought my Heath items left the third (and 5-star) feedback for the items and store — after taking a chance buying from a store with (then) ZERO reviews.

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I love vintage Heath objects, and can’t wait to find more to list on the store, that is, if I can resist the urge to KEEP them!

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Heath teacup in the coupe line listed in my Etsy store. Click on photo to view listing.

For more details about vintage items listed on this blog and website, please visit my shop Market Tales Vintage on Etsy.

Thank you!


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Vernon Kilns and the early California “Big 5” Pottery Companies

If you sell items on Etsy or EBay, sooner or later, you will run into pottery objects from California — and especially one originating from what is known as the “Big 5” California potteries.

Franciscan Jamoca Cup and Saucer Set 1
Franciscan — by Gladding McBean Co. — footed cup and saucer in the “Jamoca” pattern

I’ve posted about Gladding McBean — one of the “Big 5’s” — as I owned and listed Franciscan  dinnerware items in the Jamoca pattern.

I recently listed a pair of hand-painted “Vernonware” / Vernon Kiln salad plates  manufactured between 1937 and 1958.

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You can click on the photo of the Vernonware handpainted “Organdie” pattern plates to view the Etsy listing.

 

Founded in 1931, Vernon Kilns was based in Vernon, California (about 5 miles south of downtown Los Angeles) and created many ceramic tableware patterns, as well as art ware, figurines and gift ware.

In 1940, they signed a contract with Walt Disney to produce film-related figurines based on characters from the films Dumbo, Fantasia and the Reluctant Dragon.

Especially because of their association with Walt Disney, it it safe to say you will run into not only tableware made by Vernon Kilns, but also collectible figurines (though I have not, as of yet… but then my pottery interest are more related to dining, cookware, garden pots and vases and not figurines).

As of September, 2015, if you type in “Vernonware” in the Etsy search box, you will get 18 pages of listings for over 700 objects!

Here is an image of the 1st page.  So many choices…

Vernonware on Etsy

It seems the hand-painted  “Organdie” pattern was popular and available in many shapes, so it would be easier to collect items in this pattern.

The Organdie pattern was designed by Gale Turnbull, who was hired by Vernon Kilns as their art director in 1935.

Vernon Kilns closed in 1958 due to increasing manufacturing and labor costs, as well as competition from foreign-made ceramic tableware and figurine manufacturers.

Besides Gladding, McBean & Co. and Vernon Kilns, the other “Big 5” were:

  • Pacific Clay Products
  • J.A. Bauer Potteries
  • and the Metlox Manufacturing Company — who, interestingly,  purchased Vernon Kilns and continued to make some of the Vernon Kiln items, until Metlox also closed down in the late 1980s.

Here is a Vernonware pitcher listed in the shop (in the “Sherwood” pattern – and San Clemente shape) that continued to be made by Metlox (manufactured between 1958 to 1965).

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Updated 2016 with this listing — You can click on the pitcher photo to see the listing in my Etsy Vintage shop.

Please comment about your own California pottery finds — I’d like to know more about about companies beyond the “Big 5” as well.


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Thor Bjørklund – inventor of the cheese slicer

P1290489I like cheese — especially Danish Havarti and Spanish queso manchego, made from the milk of manchega sheep.  For snacking, cooking and melting, its hard to beat the  Extra Sharp Cheddar from the farmer-owned, Oregon-based Tilamook, which we usually have on hand.

I’ve sliced plenty of cheese over the years, but never gave much thought to the tool that I use to slice my cheese.  Well… at least not until I found the Bjørklund cheese slicers from Norway.

Before I listed these on my Etsy Store, the research — as it often does — revealed interesting information.

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It turns out that the inventor of the modern cheese slicer was a Norwegian man named Thor Bjørklund.  Yes, the same name that is on this cheese slicer.

Mr. Bjørklunde was a master carpenter and attended the Arts and Crafts School in Oslo, Norway.  He reportedly created the design after becoming frustrated with cutting into the cheese in his lunch pack.

Being a carpenter, he modeled his cheese slicer after a  plane – a tool used to shape and smooth out pieces of lumber.

“Ostehovel” Image via Wikipedia Commons

Bjorklund’s invention was patented in 1925.  The cheese slicer was a huge export product for Norway and  became a staple kitchen item in many Nordic households (and beyond!).

These days, cheese slicers are made by a number of manufacturers, but you can still purchase the original ones made by Bjørklund — because they continue to produce cheese slicers modeled after the one invented by Mr. Thor Bjorklund.

Ah yes… the things you learn when you have a blog AND an Etsy Vintage Shop!

Here is a link to the Etsy Listing for the Bjorklund Cheese Slicer (or click on the Etsy post image below).

Etsy Listing


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Update — I’ve also listed another cheese slicer on the store, this one designed by Swedish master jeweler and silversmith Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe for Dansk.

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You can click on the photo to see the listing for this Dansk cheese slicer on my Estsy shop.