Friday, March 4, 2011

A Little Ruskinism!

John Ruskin was the founding father of the Arts & Crafts Movement, a major social movement in England and the United States during the last half of the nineteenth century. The Ruskin Pottery was established in 1898 in a suburb of Birmingham, England. The founder, Edward Richard Taylor,  followed the teachings and philosophy of John Ruskin and admired him so much,  that he named his pottery in his honor. Ruskin Pottery was taken over by Edward's son, William Howson Taylor in 1912, and it was he who was came closest to Ruskins's ideals of arts and crafts.

Ruskin silver arts crafts pendant necklace
In the early 1900's, the Ruskin Pottery began producing small round cabochons, which they called,   "plaques" or "enamels". They were made for the purpose of using them as gems to be mounted in metal and wood jewelry. These varied in size from the size of a button to 3" in diameter. They became a major part of the pottery's output. The pottery also made tiles, hatpins, studs, cuff links, scarf pins, and pendants. All Ruskin advertising included "Ruskin Pottery, Enamels and Buttons".
Liberty of London, makers of pewter and sterling silver art pieces, started using Ruskin plaques in place of semiprecious stones. The semi-precious stones had become so expensive that they were no longer cost effective, and the Ruskins cabochons were relatively inexpensive and the colors so beautiful that they immediately gained popularity. These were all leadless glazes and many are similar in color to what I am achieving today with the glazes developed at Jugtown by my sister Pam owens.
Other pottery's such as Moorcraft, Minton and Kensington also produced ceramic cabochons, but they are rare to find.

Doesn't this look like one of my stones!!
If you get to see the original Ruskins, they are a treat. I used to exhibit annually in Asheville at the Arts & Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn, and had the opportunity to see many fine examples. It just amazed me how close the colors were to those that I have been making using Jugtown's glazes! You can now understand why I get giddy over every single firing!


Linda Starr said...

Interesting to learn; glazes are jewels in their own right for sure.

JLK Jewelry said...

They sure are! I am amazed at how close the Jugtown glaze combos that I use look to Ruskins. That was a happy coincidence!

Laurie said...

Very cool, Jennie!