My favorite fall tablescape includes using Royal Staffordshire’s Rural Scenes transferware. I discovered this pattern a few years ago and now have a collecting passion for it! I’ve slowly bought pieces through sites like Ebay, Etsy, and RubyLane. The beautiful image above and others in this post are from Nancy’s Daily Dish, a wonderful site carrying a large collection of transferware.
Transferware was developed by potters who could quickly duplicate a pattern by transferring it from a copper plate. To transfer a print on pottery, inked tissue paper is pressed onto the earthenware with a stiff brush and removed with a soapy solution, leaving behind only the permanently transfer-printed ink. I particulary love the polychromatic brown Rural Scenes. Polychrome is the transferware term which refers to a single color object that has been hand painted within the confines of the design and then glazed so that it is permanent.
I adore the deep, rich fall colors in this transferware. Each piece depicts a different scene.
The intricate border is a lovely blend of grapevine, ivy, rakes and hoes.
The artist behind Royal Staffordshire’s *Rural Scenes* pattern is Clarice Cliff who is regarded as one of the most influential ceramics artists of the 20th Century. She was born in England in 1899. At the age of 13, Cliff began working in the pottery industry. In 1916 she moved to the A.J. Wilkinson firm where she worked as a modeler. In time, Cliff’s wide array of skills were recognized and she was given her own studio. She was allowed to decorate old defective pottery in her own freehand patterns. She used simple patterns to hide imperfections and used unglazed enamel colors, which were much brighter than traditional underglaze colors. Cliff named her pottery line, Bizarre.
Clarice Cliff’s work is most identifiable by its bright, avant garde designs. I like Cliff’s colorful, whimsical pottery, however, I prefer the pastoral scenes pottery she created after World War II.
In 1930, Cliff was appointed Art Director to A. J. Wilkinson. She spent more time with the owner, Colley Shorter, and she eventually married him in 1940. Cliff sold the factory in 1964 following the death of Colley Shorter a year earlier. Clarisse Cliff died suddenly in October, 1972.
Cliff’s work was collected by Hollywood film stars in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Very little was known about her pottery until the Minneapolis Institute of Arts named her as a major Art Deco designer and exhibited her work in 1972. For Clarice’s 1999 centenary year, Wedgwood, who now owned the Clarice Cliff name, exhibited her work to celebrate her achievements.
Clarice Cliff certainly left her mark in the pottery world. She was the first ever female Art Director and pottery designer who had brought a new and powerful art concept – ‘Bizarre Ware’ – to the public’s attention in the 1930’s.
Which of Clarice’s pottery designs do you like best? Do you prefer Cliff’s bright Art Deco pieces or the more subdued transferware I love that is a beautiful evocation of fall?
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Editor In Chief
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