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Welcome to the SFCC blog

This blog is for wide-ranging discussions of ceramics, and also to answer questions from SFCC members about the history, design, and identification of ceramics. We are best-informed in the areas shown in our Collections gallery, but we also know people who know things we don’t. We’re happy to see history and design questions from other collectors and students. However, non-members will be limited to one identification question; after that, please join the club (see link on Home page).

Photos for identification should include at least one general view and one view of any marks. Also include a complete view of any base or bottom. If you’re new to photographing small items: a close-up that’s out of focus won’t help. We may post your photos, but we will keep your identity confidential.

IDs we offer are tentative. We only see online photos, while it is always better to see and handle actual objects. We are not certified to identify items for sale, we should never be cited in appraisals or sales, and commercial use of our opinions is at your own risk. We may report public sales but we won’t advise on prices or values. Price comparisons can be found in the Sold Lot archives of major auction houses and of liveauctioneers.com.

You are welcome to download the photos to see them full size. To use our own photos (“SFCC photo” in the caption) in blogs or newsletters, please credit San Francisco Ceramic Circle. For other uses, please contact us through the form at the bottom of each post. Researchers can request the high-resolution originals of SFCC photos and, in many cases, additional views.

Italian Lustre Glazes: Renaissance and Revival

In the early 1500s, potters at Deruta and Gubbio figured out the old Islamic technique of metallic over-glazing. They started with a completed, glazed piece. They painted on it with a “salt” (compound) of copper, silver, or gold; re-fired it under stringent conditions, and polished it. If everything went right, the remaining metal would be reflective or even iridescent. Continue reading

The Photography Illusion

These photos show a 44.6 cm high stoneware vase, made c. 1895 by the pioneering studio ceramist Georges Hoentschel, at the Victoria & Albert Museum. (My husband says it’s ugly, but that’s beside the point.) How can two photos of the same item look so different? Continue reading