Category Archives: Setting Up Shop

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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Pottery from Tonalá – Jalisco region and the Solis Mexico signed bird

I’m listing my first “Tonalá” style pottery from Mexico.

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It is a beautiful little bird — I believe it’s a quail.

Tonalá is actually a city in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, and a municipality within the Guadalajara Metropolitan area.

It is known as a major handicrafts center, specializing in pottery.

I’ve seen listings for Tonala style pottery signed with the initial KE for Ken Edwards.  I’ve also seen Etsy and EBay sellers referencing a Ken Edward or Jorge Wilmot piece.

Tonala with KE Ken Edwards stamp
Example of a listing with the KE / Ken Edwards initial – photo via the Etsy store “Vintnik”

 

So, who were Jorge Wilmot and Ken Edwards?

Although Mexico has a long history of making ceramics — well before the arrival of Spaniards — more modern techniques and methods of production were introduced by the Spanish during colonial times.

And in the 1950’s and  1960’s, high-fire production were introduced by Jorge Wilmot and Ken Edwards, which is why you will see their names associated with pottery from the Tonala region of Mexico.

It was easier to find information on Jorge Wilmot, as he was a well-known Mexican artist.  He was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico in 1928 and died in January, 2012 at the age of 83.

Jorge Wilmot studied i n Paris, then worked in Sweden and Switzerland before returning to Monterrey, Mexico.

A little about him,  excerpted from a Wikipedia article:

Wilmot’s two main contributions to Mexican ceramics were the introduction of high fire ceramics such as stoneware and blending of traditional Mexican designs and motifs with international and modern influences.

He is quoted as saying “La cerámica de las artes es una de las más antiguas y a su vez de las más modernas” (Ceramics is one of the oldest and most modern art forms.) referring to the need to preserve tradition and modify it.

Wilmot combined pre-Hispanic designs and motifs with modern elements as well as international influences, especially those from Asia.

CONACULTA credits Wilmot with revolutionizing ceramics production in Mexico and establishing the production of high-fire wares, principally in Tonalá.

He has been one of the forces behind Tonalá’s current dominance in pottery and ceramics.

Note: CONACULTA is the National Council for Culture and Arts, a Mexican Government Agency

I will add more to this blog post when I have information about Ken Edwards (I am unsure if he is still living and continuing to make pottery in Mexico or elsewhere — please comment and/or send a link if you know).


The particular Tonala bird pottery piece I am listing is signed “Solis Mexico” at the bottom.

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I’ve read on a few listings that Solis is the family name of well known (and well regarded) potters from the area, but not much more than that…

I did find that there is a Solis / Tonala tile piece at the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, California — Tile with Two Birds and Flowers.

Tile with Two Birds and Flowers at Mexican Museum
Photo via The Mexican Museaum (Click on the photo to see original source)

Here is the text for the above piece, from The Mexican Museum website:

Text for Tonala tile image at Mexican Museum

And here is back angle photo of the bird pottery on my Etsy store:

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You can click on the bird photo above to see the Etsy listing.

I think the colors and artwork style of the bird look very similar to the museum’s tile ceramic… what do you think?


 

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The Lonborg Denmark cast iron / blue enamel item — a “Brutalist” bowl?

When I purchased these beautiful Dansk 1960’s era casseroles in the Fluted Flamestone line, it came with  bonus piece.

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Dansk1960’s fluted flamestone 3 quart casserole (click on photo to see the listing on Etsy)
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Dansk1960’s fluted flamestone 2 quart casserole with a tagine-like dome top (click on photo to see the listing on Etsy)

The bonus piece was a cast iron “bowl”.

The prior owner thought the bowl was a Dansk piece and part of the set.

It was not.P1250659In fact, it wasn’t  a Dansk item at all but it could have possibly been purchased with the casseroles in mind.

The bottom of this lovely cast iron piece had  nice clear stamp — so it was easy enough to get preliminary information.

P1250657Within Etsy’s search box, I found  a listing for the item from  an Etsy seller in the United Kingdom:

UK ListingI do my best to research the objects that I list on my store, so it was interesting to see this listing and the title.

The listing title included the words “Brutalist” and Space Age.

A quick search yielded this Wikipedia article about the term Brutalist — a term not yet familiar to me.

Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century.

The term originates from the French word for “raw” in the term used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material béton brut (raw concrete).

British architectural critic Reyner Banham adapted the term into “brutalism” (originally “New Brutalism”) to identify the emerging style.

I have seen sculptures described as Brutalist — like this steel and brass piece from the Etsy Store Luola.

Brutalist Sculpture
Vintage mid century free standing brass and Steel Sculpture from the Etsy Store LUOLA (click on image to visit store and listing) PHOTO BY LUOLA and description: A lovely modern / Brutalist interpretation of birds in flight. Carefully crafted from steel and brass. In great vintage condition.

 

So I suppose the term can also be used to describe objects, like the Lonborg Denmark cast enamel item?

A search on EBay yielded this Lonborg listing and an answer to this item’s original use:

Lonborg piece EBay Listing

Ah… so it’s a piece that was part of a warming trivet pack to keep food warm.  Clever, right?

Before I listed the item on my shop, another Etsy “Lonborg” search yielded this listing:

Buffet Warmer

Wow — it seems like my item would be a great match for this buffet warmer (and Lauride Lonborg) listing .

I’ve added the link to my listing page in case someone needs both in their mid-century modern dining collection.

How awesome would it be to have this vintage set to keep food contained in oven to table casseroles nice and warm for a buffet style party…

Here is my listing (you can click on the image to see the item on my Etsy store):

Lonborg Piece as Listed on Etsy


I’m posting this information so that if someone runs into this particular object in the future, they will at least have this blog post to learn what it was used for / or sold as.

And too… I suppose it is to avoid misnaming items.

Let me know if you have seen or are familiar with this piece.  Have you used one?

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Related: Another item listing with a link to an Etsy Seller – The Meaning of Handgemalt

The meaning of Handgemalt… and when you find something on Etsy that matches your item listing

P1240270Despite the Asian motiff of lovely bamboos on these stoneware teacups, this item is actually made in Germany.

The teacups are marked with the  word “Handgemalt” , a German term.

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I found the meaning of the term from another great web resource for Etsy sellers, Porcelain Marks and More.

Definition:

Handgemalt Definition

The website is privately run and free — and again, a terrific resource for Etsy sellers —- so if you can donate a few bucks to this website please do so through their front page “Donate” button.

As my store grows, I expect that I will run into more German and European pottery and have bookmarked this website for future visits.


So what happens when you find an item listed by another Etsy sellter that is a match or perfect for your item?

You link to it of course!

After all, if someone falls in love with my listing — at least I hope someone falls in love with these beautiful tea cups — then they may want the matching tea pot, right?

 

German Bamboo Scene Teapot on Etsy Bouchard Sisters Store

And so I have added the photo in the listing gallery and a link to the other Etsy seller (TheBrouchardSisters) on my description page.

Sharing the love… and seeing what happens.

Have you tried to do something similar with your listings?


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Related:

  • Instead of “hangemalt” or hand painted ceramics, another method of getting artwork from print to pottery is called “transferware”.  Click here to learn more about transferware (a process that the English developed in the mid 1700s).
  • An item listing with a link to another Etsy Seller- The Lonborg Denmark “Brutalist” bowl

Defining wrought iron vs. cast iron for magazine holder listing

I’ve used the term wrought iron to describe ornate iron gates and detailed iron objects.

wrought iron image
Image of a detailed wrough iron is via Wikipedia commons and is from a portal on the facade of Notre Dame in Paris, France

The definition of “wrought” is something that is shaped by hammering with tools.

Wrought definitionMost items that we refer to as wrought iron today is actually “cast” iron, where the molten iron is poured into molds.

Excerpt from a Wikepedia article:

As iron became more common, it became widely used for cooking utensils, stoves, grates, locks, hardware and other household uses.

From the beginning of the 19th century, wrought iron was being replaced by cast iron due to the latter’s lower cost. However, the English Arts and Crafts movement produced some excellent work in the middle of the 19th century.

Knowing this makes it more interesting to look at this gorgeous iron magazine holder I posted on my Etsy store today:

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Description:

Cast iron magazine rackYou can click on the image above to see more images of this beautiful magazine rack.

I love the design!  I think the lines would fit in a variety of decor, especially in a mission style or for a modern arts and craft style home in need of the perfect magazine holder.


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And read more about ironwork in this comprehensive Wikipedia article  here.

The difference between Corning Ware, Corelle and Pyrex

Are you as perplexed as I am about the difference between Pyrex, Corelle and Corning Ware (now called Corningware)?

I first became familiar with the Corelle brand through my mother, who really liked the dinnerware products because they were light, and for its chip-resistance, and durability.

Over the years, I’ve also purchased Corning Ware casserole dishes in the French White line,  and like many, own several Pyrex products (who doesn’t have a classic Pyrex brand measuring cup, right?)

Now that I am selling some of my pieces on my Etsy Vintage Shop, I am finding that these brands seem to blend into one another.

It was easy enough to post my large Corelle bowls and saucers in the Spring Blossom Green pattern (introduced in 1970), as it was a popular one, and still collectible.

P1210963I found a wonderful website run by a a dedicated collector, called Corelle Corner, which is full of terrific information.

I highly recommend this informative site as a starting point to identify your pieces.  It is an amazing repository of all things Corelle, from an avid fan.

I’ve bookmarked the site and know that I’ll be going back to read more (you can click here to visit site).

But listing my white, vintage Corning Ware casserole dishes is another story…

P1230563It turns out that my old Corning Ware (two words) is now called CorningWare® (one word) and owned by the World Kitchen company.

World Kitchen also owns the Pyrex brand (which turned 100 years old this year!)  and the Corelle brand.

So for the basics, I’m posting a bit of history about these product lines for my 3rd blog post.

THE CORNING GLASS COMPANY – The Parent Company

The original company that created the Pyrex, Corning Ware and the Corelle brands started out in 1851 as Corning Glass Works in Massachusetts and later moved to New York.

Corning History Photo
Photo of Corning Glass’ optic headlamp via Wikipedia Commons

They  specialized in glass, ceramics and related materials for industrial and scientific uses.

Corning developed one of the first optic headlamps (photo above), the glass for the Palomar Observatory’s telescope, and worked on creating new automobile glass windshields in the 1960s.

An excerpt from a Wikipedia article on Corning (now called Corning, Inc.):

The company was known as Corning Glass Works until 1989, when it changed its name to Corning Incorporated.

In 1998, Corning divested itself of its consumer lines of CorningWare and Corelle tableware and Pyrex cookware selling them to World Kitchen, but still holds an interest of about 8%.

You can read the full article, here.

Pyrex

The Pyrex brand and line of specialty glass for laboratory and kitchen use was introduced by Corning in 1915.

Here is interesting information about the history of Pyrex from the World Kitchen website:

Pyrex History

Corning Ware / CorningWare®

Corning introduced the CorningWare brand in 1958, as cooking ware resistant to heat and shock.

Interestingly, it was a material discovered by accident by a researcher working in Corning’s R&D division.

Excerpt from a Wikipedia article:

In 1953 S. Donald Stookey of the Corning Research and Development Division discovered Pyroceram, a white glass-ceramic material capable of withstanding a thermal shock (sudden temperature change) of up to 450 °C (840 °F), by accident.

He was working with photosensitive glass and placed a piece into a furnace planning on heating it to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

When he checked on his sample the furnace was at 900 degrees and the glass had turned milky white. He reached into the furnace with tongs to discard the sample and it slipped and hit the floor without shattering.

The material was used in the ballistic missile program as a heat-resistant material for nose cones. (More here)

Corelle

The Corelle brand of tempered glass dishware and glassware was introduced by Corning in 1970.  Made from a material called “Vitrelle”, it consisted of glass laminated into 3 layers.

Again, from the World Kitchen website:

Corelle History


I certainly learned a lot more about the differences between the terms CorningWare, Pyrex and Corelle through writing this blog post.

What can add to the confusion between the product lines is that many of the patterns used for the Corelle brand was also used for the CorningWare brand.

But at least I now know the difference!

Was this blog post helpful to you?  I’d love to know, and would appreciate your input in the comment section.

— Jane

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My first listings — and describing / pricing my Franciscan Pottery and Heath Ceramics

One of the most challenging thing to do once you’ve set up shop in Etsy is to figure out

  1. How to price your vintage objects
  2. The language and description to add to your item listing

Until I set up my Etsy store, I didn’t know that Heath Ceramics, based in Sausalito, California were highly collectible.  I bought the plates years ago because I liked the simple design, the look of the glaze and colors.

I also had many pieces from the Franciscan Pottery Company in the “Jamoca” line, as well as various plates and creamers from other Franciscan lines.  Initially, I did not know that they were Franciscan.  I just liked the colors and the shapes and picked up pieces here and there, over the years.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS

If writing is not your thing (I’m so-so at it) or you find it difficult to be creative with your words (as I do), then searching within Etsy to see how others describe similar items should get you inspired to write up descriptions for your first listing.

I’ve visited stores with very minimal words in their listings and some with long, super detailed descriptions.

I like information, so I tend to want to add more, rather than less.

I also think it is best to give your potential customer as much information to accompany the photos —- and leave it to them if they want to read the nitty gritty.

Along with looking within Etsy for similar products, you can do a Google search or search within EBay for product listing descriptions.  If the company who made your product is still operating, then it is easy enough to get information  simply by visiting their website.

P1230458Based on the information I gathered, I listed my Heath Ceramics Sea and Sand plates with the following description:

Classic and durable Heath ceramic dinner plates in beautiful Sea and Sand glaze, coupe shape.

The Heath company was founded in 1948 in Sausalito, California. They are known for their simple yet thoughtfully designed table ware.

The design and durability stands the test of time — thus becoming family heirlooms.

Many of founder Edith Heath’s original pieces are housed in permanent collections of modern art museums (MOMA and LACMA).

I thought it was a good start!

Getting a bit of history on the company made writing a description more fun, and for me, was an interesting process.

Franciscan Jamoca Gravy Pitcher
Franciscan Pottery “Jamoca” line Gravy Pitcher

Next up were my Franciscan dinnerware items, and I posted this description:

love the Franciscan line of ceramic dinnerware in the “Jamoca” pattern.

The neutral, dark brown color can easily pair with your other tableware collection, and the golden yellow scrolls, filigree designs are very pretty.

Franciscan Ceramics started under California-based Gladding, Mcbean & Co., and was later purchased by Wedgwood, then the Waterford Glass Group.

Jamoca is a discontinued pattern.

Franciscan Dinner Plates Jamoca edges

The Etsy item listing manager allows you to “copy” an existing listing.

In the case of the Franciscan tableware, this was a great feature as I was able to just copy most of the listing for the dinner / salad plates / footed cups & saucers, with all the information and product tags I already created.

Very nice, and time-saving, especially if you have many pieces that you want to sell separately.

PRICING

For collectible and known / popular dining and table top items, the website that sells replacement pieces is a good resource to get an idea of market price (and their availability) for pieces you are listing to sell. It is a terrific starting point for pricing.

I then checked EBay to see how many other sellers have the same or similar item for sale… what is their price?

And within Etsy, how many sellers already have the same item?  What condition is it in?  Is mine in better condition or less so?

Once I have done my research, I then price the items based on

  • what is available on line to replace these items
  • how many other listings there are, both on EBay and Etsy

And based on the condition and availability (is it rare?) I establish a price that I think is reasonable and fair.

Your thoughts? If you have tips to add on how to price your items, or additional ideas, please do comment.


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