Tuesday, March 31, 2009

“Cowan Pottery Shines Above the Rest” Daryle Lambert

Cowan Jazz Bowl - Thanks to www.artknowledgenews.com

My last two blogs have come from Leslie Pina's book “Pottery Modern Wares 1920 -1960.” They covered Glidden and Carlton wares but the pottery featured in the book is Cowan. I have written about this company before but I thought it might be good to update the information on this wonderful company.

R. Guy Cowan is described as “the man most responsible for the introduction and fostering of ceramic art in this country.” As an employer, Mr. Cowan mentored some of the greatest ceramic artists of all times. Cowan settled in Cleveland, Ohio to start his first studio. He was a chemist so he often experimented with different clays and finally settled on a white clay for his preferred lines. His method of making clay was very complicated and involved white silica, Maine feldspar, ball clay and powdered feldspar mixed together. An electric magnet extracted the iron. This mixture was then drained through 40 layers of canvas to make the mixture used in the final products.

His products weren't cheap even in the early days. Some were priced as high as $40 and limited editions could bring $500. He closed the pottery in 1931 and died in Arizona in 1957. This ended one of the most exciting careers ever established in the ceramic field.

The highlight of Mr. Cowan's career might have been the introduction of the Jazz Bowl in 1931. Its selling price was $50 and there were only 50 produced. Each one was different, with the carved decoration varying and each with an eye dazzling blue-green transparent glaze. One of these pieces has sold for over $120,000.

Cowan made a large variety of items from flower frogs, vases, plates and figures. Each piece was carefully designed to catch the eye. They would enhance any living quarters. You will find that there are still enough pieces to be found to make your search worthwhile.

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