Today is the birthday of ceramicist artist Clarice Cliff (b. 1899 Tunstall, Stoke on Trent -1972). Her family came from a long line of potters. Cliff followed in their footprints but went on to became famous for her unique stylised patterns which became very popular during the Late 20s -40s , encapsulating the spirit of the age.
Starting work as a 13 years old gilder in the Potteries,Cliff then moved on to work in A.J. Wilkinsons pottery factory in 1916. In 1924 she was given another apprenticeship, and acquired a large range of skills. When she was given her own studio in 1927, her career really took off. In 1928 she designed a range of brightly coloured geometric patterned tableware called ‘Bizarre’.
The ‘Bizarre’ range was closely followed by the massively popular ‘Crocus’ design, which was entirely hand painted with upward brushstrokes depicting each flower. This pattern is said to be her signature. The design became so popular, that owing to demand, Cliff had to employ a large team (mostly of women) to hand paint the design Art Deco style was to prove so popular that Cliff and her team were producing colourful tableware that was both cheerful and affordable in the recession of the late 1920s. In 1940 Cliff married Colley Shorter (her then boss). Following his death in 1963, Cliff sold the factory to Midwinters and retired to Chetwynd House, Staffordshire. She died in 1972 but is still much celebrated to this day, her designs much admired and now very collectable.
Much has been written about Clarice Cliff’s life and there are some very informative links below for a more in depth look at this very individual, innovative ceramicist artist.