Emons & Sohne (1921-1974) was not widely known for a long time except for a few forms and glazes. The problem was that they almost never marked items. However, between labels, catalogs, and additional research more and more items have been properly attributed to ES, and many of those glazes have turned out to be some of the best for commercial W. German art pottery. To see the ES Keramik we currently have for sale, click here. The page will open in a new tab.
If you’re enjoying the ES Keramik gallery, I hope you’ll check out some of the other photo research galleries. The blog has a lot of other information as well, currently mostly about W. German pottery. Of course, the main site also has a lot of East and West German pottery for sale along with other ceramics, glass, paintings, and odd bits. You can find your way to the home page by clicking here, rather than clicking your heels three times. Of course, you’re free to click those heels, too. Either way, the page will open in a new tab.
Hope you’ll visit again and often as well as telling your friends, vague acquaintances, and complete strangers.
Ceramano (1959-84) was started by Jakob Schwaderlapp, who also ran Jasba, to be a higher-end company, more like a studio than most commercial art potteries. Quality was high and production numbers relatively low. While the production from most commercial potteries is all molded (although often with hand work in the decoration), Ceramano did both molded and hand-made pots. Designers included Gerda Heuckenroth and Hanns Welling. Top decors include Pergamon, Rustica, and Rubin plus rarities such as Saturn. Many of the more subtle glazes remain under-rated. Clay color ranges from light brown to very dark brown. This gallery gives just a hint of the range produced, but it’s a start. To see our Ceramano items for sale, click here. Page will open in a new tab.
Previously sold items so people can see more of what Carstens made and learn about W. German pottery. To see our Carstens items currently for sale, click here. Page will open in a new tab. Keep in mind that this doesn’t even qualify as the tip of the iceberg, hardly a hint of the tip. Also, the items here focus on the better production. While Carstens Tönnieshof produced a lot of high quality items, they also made their share of lower end wares.
An Introduction to East and West German Pottery Volcanic Glazes
Long before most people had noticed West German pottery, a few
German sellers on eBay used the phrase “fat lava” to describe the
unusually thick, often flowing glazes on some items. Based on that
usage, the term appears to have been a slight mistranslation, shifting
“thick” to “fat”, with thick meaning depth, or how much the glaze rises
above the surface of the clay, not a matter of viscosity.
A few years later, Graham Cooley held an exhibition using fat lava as
part of the title, and Mark Hill published the expanded exhibition
catalog Fat Lava, which brought the phrase to wider attention, and the
phrase was fun enough to catch on, perhaps too well. Soon, people were
equating fat lava with all mid century modern German pottery, but the
reality is that only a small sub-group fits the term, and many of the
finest works are not fat lava at all.
I’m attempting to bring a degree of regularity to the usage by
defining some of the terms so we can discuss both the larger category
and sub categories with more precision. It’s rather tricky because
there are a number of terms that can mean different things, and the
variety in the glazes is enormous, so please be patient as I sort
through the variables.
Quite often, a fat lava glaze runs down over another glaze. In
broader terms, this is a drip glaze, and it’s been used for a long time.
In American art pottery, drip glazes are probably best known on Fulper
Pottery or some Roseville lines, such as Carnelian. Excellent drip
glazes were also done by Belgian and French potteries in the early 20th
century. On these earlier versions, there is little or no difference
in the thicknesses of the top and bottom glazes, so one type of fat lava
glaze is a drip glaze, but it’s only fat lava if one of the glazes
involved is “thick” enough.
Color is in no way involved in whether or not a glaze should be
called fat lava. There are many fiery orange and red glazes on mid
century German pottery, often suggesting the color of hot lava. Some of
these glazes have a flowing or drip quality as well, but it remains
thickness that’s a defining characteristic. If it’s not “fat”, it’s not
On the other hand, there are many “fat” glazes in colors that look
nothing like lava, hot or cold. If we start using color as a
distinguishing characteristic, then we have to start coming up with so
many different names that communication becomes even more difficult
than usual. So we’re better off calling a thick, flowing white glaze
fat lava even when it doesn’t quite make sense in some respects. Like
so many things, language is based on compromise.
proper use of certain ingredients can cause controlled (somewhat)
gaseous explosions in the glaze, producing holes of different types.
These are called volcanic glazes. One of the best known creators of
volcanic glazes is Otto Natzler, who came to the US from Austria with
his wife Gertrud in 1938. By coming to the US, Natzler was able to
continue his glaze experiments at a time when all art was increasing
repressed in Germany. As a result of that repression and the war, it
was about 1965 before German companies began producing volcanic glazes.
Many of the mid century German volcanic glazes are also quite thick,
but it’s also possible to make fairly thin volcanic glazes (which
describes most of the Natzler glazes). So a volcanic glaze will always
be visually suggestive of lava (or the moon), but not all volcanic
glazes are fat. The texture of a volcanic glaze can also vary with
large or small craters and sharp or smooth edges. Gramann(Töpferei
Römhild) made some of the best, flowing fat lava glazes, but they also
made many volcanic glazes that are relatively thin with small, tightly
of the most common uses of volcanic glazes is actually in applied
designs, usually with a fairly fine, pumice-like glaze. However, even
though these designs are thicker than the primary glaze, the difference
is often not very extreme, so whether or not these qualify as fat is
variable. Still, since there’s no point in trying to establish a
precise measurement for at what point a glaze becomes “fat”, most of
them can probably be called fat lava. Indeed many or most of the items
in the first Fat Lava exhibition and catalog were simply fat lava
“detailed” with only a small part of the surface covered in the namesake
glaze. I expect that we’ll eventually establish a sub-category for
Volcanic glazes often have little or no “flow” to them, but given the
texture a thick volcanic glaze should certainly qualify as fat lava. In
fact, the fat lava volcanic glazes probably significantly outnumber the
fat lava drip glazes, and the volcanic is probably the more accurate
term, while fat lava happens to be more fun.
Some companies named glazes “Vulkano” (Volcano) or “Lava”, so we
need to be careful with our usage and distinguish between official glaze
names and the other uses of the words.
Take note that not all fat lava volcanic glazes are German. Also,
there are companies that use lava pieces in the glaze or decoration.
While in a technical sense these are volcanic and lava, we need to use
terms carefully. These probably shouldn’t be called fat lava, and the use of volcanic should be made clear in the context of any discussion.
Obviously, my only “authority” for saying what should or shouldn’t be
called fat lava comes only from observation and experience, and there
will always be disagreements about language. Still, I hope this will
get people to think about both what they see and what they say and
appreciate the value of precision in both. The world opens up in
fascinating new ways each time we learn to see a little more clearly and
in a little more depth. As many have said before me, the world doesn’t
really exist until an artist makes us see it, but we have to learn to
do some of the work when the art calls to us.
Bay items from the 1950s and early 60s were very popular before W. German pottery itself became popular. Some of the Bodo Mans designs fit into the decorative styles collectors wanted in the late 1980s and into the mid 1990s. The Bodo Mans items were actually more valuable then in that collector group than they are now as W.
German collectibles, which is also partly why the Bodo Mans name still resonates with collectors.
Things to Know About Bay Keramik
1. The 1950s and early 60s items remain the most popular, along with some of the embossed designs. Quality of decoration with the “painted” glazes varies widely, so select carefully and don’t overpay for a sloppy example.
2. Bay kept up when designs began changing in the early 60s, but their overall design quality began falling after that. A large percentage of Bay items are in the lower “tourist” and “kitsch” categories.
3. Despite the abundance of lesser designs and glazes, Bay still produced some excellent items into the 1980s. Reports that they ceased art pottery production in 1972 are inaccurate. They do seem
to have changed emphasis, but there are some late examples that stand as some of the best work Bay produced.
4. Bay only used white/buff clay. I am not aware of a single example in a red/brown clay. Lettering/numbering style varied widely, so not all Bay items have the lower case “y”, but it remains true that if you see the lower case “y” on an item with white clay, Bay is the first company to check…..keeping in mind that Fohr and a few other companies used that combination at times.
5. Don’t assume that every Bodo Mans design will be valuable, and don’t believe every attribution to Mans. He only worked at Bay for a fairly short time.
For more information plus items for sale, check our home page…..not just the usual suspects.
(Photos are of a Bay vase circa 1960. Use of the full West-Germany was used part of the time in the 50s and very early 60s.)