Rookwood Pottery Soaring in Cincinnati
From the Desk of George Hibben
In 2006 Rookwood Pottery returned to Cincinnati, Ohio. Originally founded in 1880 on the banks of the Ohio River, Rookwood quickly began winning international awards for innovations in art pottery. Thriving under the ownership of Marilyn and Martin Wade since 2011, employees now number 68. Seventeen kilns are in operation throughout the 95,000 square foot facility, and Rookwood again appears poised for remarkable works.
Architectural tile and art pottery comprise the current production at the Rookwood facility. Tile production features three lines: Heritage — which are classic designs from the past; Timeless Beauty — a modern evolution of classic designs; and Modern Classics — contemporary designs. Over 300 distinct designs are available in various sizes and shapes in classic 5/8” thickness. Most of these designs have been converted to 3/8” tile and both 5/8” and 3/8” will be offered going forward.
The Rookwood Art Pottery line consists of new designs, but occasionally some of the classics. Owning over 3200 of the old molds, Rookwood plans to reissue some of the historic forms, very sparingly however, with less than six designs to be released per year. And, just like antique Rookwood, all reissued archival products will be marked with the mold number and with the current Roman numeral date of production. As an example, a classic 1907 Arts and Crafts candlestick, form #1635, by Kitaro Shirayamadami was reissued in 2011.
Another strong Arts and Crafts piece, form #2396, was reissued a few years ago, but came to Rookwood via an unlikely route. A collector brought the mold to the pottery asking that it be made for his wife for their anniversary. Though in disrepair, the mold was refreshed by Rookwood’s Mold Department and became part of the inventory. Named for the collector’s wife, the Angelica vase was born again.
A new piece designed by Roy Robinson is the Invite The Rook Stein. Created as an homage to its historical roots in Mt. Adams, the stein honors the legacy with a contemporary twist. A set-on lid features the ever-popular rook, for which Maria Longworth Nichols named the pottery back in 1880.
As Rookwood goes forward, new and exciting items will be unveiled. Through a Visiting Artists program, Kentucky artist Dan Dutton is creating some beautifully detailed vases and sculpted pieces. Inspired by nature, Dan’s work includes owls, koi fish, dragonflies, tadpoles, luna moths and guinea hens across a variety of forms.
Unique carved and hand-decorated pieces are also being created from standard forms. Each of these carved pieces is technically one-of-a-kind featuring interesting glaze-layering effects, which compliment the Arts and Crafts aesthetic. The aforementioned Angelica vase particularly lends itself to this layered glaze technique.
Another note worth mentioning for collectors are Rookwood’s markings. Markings on antique faience tile can include the reverse RP and a multi-digit number. Typical for the old art tile and vases is the standard RP logo, mold number and Roman Numeral date. Now, markings for new installation tile include a scripted Rookwood signature back. New art tile and art pottery has the standard RP logo, mold number, and current date of production. Additionally, all art pottery made since 2006 has mold numbers starting at number 10,000. In essence, old and new are easily distinguishable.
From 1880 to 2014, the Rookwood Pottery Company has been a symbol of the American Art Pottery movement. Through continued excellence, respect of the past, continued innovation and modern interpretations, Rookwood will strive to remain at the pinnacle of the art pottery field.
For more information on Rookwood including their downloadable Architectural and Art Pottery catalogs, please visit www.rookwood.com; George Hibben can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; and please send general questions to email@example.com.