Ruskin Pottery

Ruskin Pottery

The Ruskin Pottery studio was founded in 1898 by Edward R. Taylor, the Principal of Birmingham School of Art, to be run by his son, William Howson Taylor, formerly a student there. It was named for the artist John Ruskin, and was situated at 173-174 Oldbury Road Smethwick, Sandwell, West Midlands.

The pottery produced was notable for the innovative glazes used on a range of brightly coloured pots, vases, buttons, bowls, tea services and jewellery. The glazes devised by William Howson Taylor included a misty glaze called soufflé, an ice crystal effect glaze - 'crystalline', lustre glazes resembling metallic finishes, and the most popular of all “sang de boeuf”, which produced a blood red effect. The 'sang de boeuf' glazes were created using reduction of copper and iron oxides at high temperature. This was a difficult technique, first developed in China in the 13th century and reinvented by several art potters in Europe in the late 19th century. William Howson Taylor was one of the principal exponents of 'high fired' techniques, producing a range of colours and unique 'fissured' glaze effects.

Having exhibited at home and at international fine art exhibitions, the award of a "grand prize" in 1904 at the St Louis International Exhibition, which gave them the recognition they needed. Further awards were gained at other international exhibitions, including Milan 1906; Christchurch, New Zealand, 1907; London 1908; Brussels 1910; Turin 1911; Ghent 1913.

When the studio closed in 1935 the unique formulae for the glazes were deliberately destroyed, so that they would never be reproduced.

A large collection of Ruskin Pottery is on public display at Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery, Wednesbury, England. The collection is owned by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and is managed by Sandwell Museum Service.


*"The Pottery of Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor, 1898-1935" - Paul Atterbury and John Henson, Baxendale Press, 1993, ISBN 0-9520933-0-8

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