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A's one surveys the field of present-day production of pottery, one is impressed with its divergence from European models. The East-especially China and Persia-seems to have been the inspiration for this branch of ceramic art in America. With some noteworthy exceptions, most American potters strive for an effect of simple form, texture and color, the distinguishing qualities of the examples of the best periods in China.
This tendency has already created a certain national characteristic in American pottery, and is constantly growing stronger. The old days of the China trade may have had something to do with the Chinese influence, although the Persian tendency is a recent one.
Much distinctive ware from American kilns is devoid of painted decoration but depends for its charm upon the rich tone of the glaze or the color of the baked clay itself. With greater public interest in the art of ceramics this simply made ware is achieving wider appreciation. Where floral and pictorial ornament is employed the trend is happily away from the realism of the past and toward the more decorative treatment characteristic of the great periods of pottery making.
The vivid hues with which much of this American pottery is covered reflect the general demand for chromatic brilliance in today's interiors. These jars and bowls and vases that serve as holders for flowers may be had in reds and yellows so brilliant that they seem to glow. Blues and lavenders and curious greens enrich these bits of decorative ware, which one may place on the dining table or on the window ledge in the sunlight, or which one may use on the top of a chest to fill out the color scale of a room. These lighter and more brilliant colors are especially in vogue for Summer homes and for the sun rooms of city dwellings.
In American pottery made today, effects of color, half art and half accident, are encountered. One color over another, and glazes that do not completely cover the baked clay, appeal to the pottery buyer. Some of these effects are, of course, accidental. After all the lore and science and art of the craftsman has been expended on the making and placing of glazes on a piece of ware, it is not until a piece is finally drawn from the kiln that the potter knows whether he has created a masterpiece or something mediocre. The touch of the hand, which fine pottery still must have, and this element of chance, make every piece a unique thing.
The use of pottery as an accent in room decoration calls for considerable discernment. One must harden one's heart against the desire to place a beautiful bit of blue glazed ware in a room that requires a warmer note. Often a bit of pottery of a definite color is just the thing to bring out properly similar colors in other furnishings. Again, a vase or bowl whose color is in direct contrast to the prevailing tone of the room may be just the needed touch.
The shape of the pottery is important. A tall vase is generally out of place on a high chest or by the side of some other tall object. A low bowl on top of book shelves that are perhaps a little too high aids in giving a lowering effect. Slender pieces add to the gayety of a room, while pieces inspired by the more austere forms of Greek ceramic art assist in giving a dignified or quiet and reserved air.
An important pottery value is texture. Often it is just this hard surface, glazed or unglazed, that is needed as a foil for the wood or fabric in the furnishings. Pottery desk sets, or perhaps a set of book ends, may give the needed accent. A statuette, glazed and colored, may sometimes brighten with its high lights an otherwise dull corner.
American ceramic artists of ability are placing their work more and more before the public. These workers are blazing the way for a wider public appreciation of this important craft-which is a necessary requirement if the art is to flourish.