Clarice Cliff born January 20, 1899 and she died October 23, 1972. She started work at the age of 13 in the pottery industry where she put gold lines onto potteries ware, she soon mastered this and progressed onto painting.
As Clarice Cliff was a very ambitious she soon became skilful in modelling vases,gilding, hand painting pottery pieces, enamelling and banding,.
While working for A.J.Wilkinson of Newport her wide range of skills were recognised and in 1927 she was given her own studio. It was here that Clarice decorated some of the old defective wares in her own freehand patterns. For these she used on-glaze enamel colours, which enabled a brighter palette than underglaze colours. She covered the imperfections in simple patterns of triangles, in a style that she called 'Bizarre'. The earliest examples had just a hand-painted mark, usually in a rust coloured paint, 'Bizarre by Clarice Cliff', sometimes with 'Newport Pottery' underneath. These soon became popular.
In 1928 Clarice produced a simple but clever hand painted pattern of Crocus flowers in orange, blue and purple and with these vibrant colours they became an instant success.
Twenty women painted the Crocus 5 1/2 days a week, for much of the 1930s. Crocus was unusual in that it was produced on both tableware, tea and coffeeware, and novelty items. The pattern had many colour variations, including Purple Crocus (1932) Blue Crocus (1935), Sungleam Crocus (1935) Spring Crocus. It was even produced after the war, the final pieces with Clarice Cliff marks being made in 1963, though Midwinter (who bought the factory) continued to paint it to order until as late as 1968.
The Fantasque range which featured landscapes, cottages and trees sold well from 1930 until 1934. But it was the slightly later and more sophisticated Autumn pattern produced near the end of 1930 that was to prove the most popular. Originally created in red (coral) green and black in 1930, from 1931 many coloured variations appeared. The best selling version at the time was one with the trees in blue green and yellow. All these variations have proven particularly collectable.
World War 2 and under wartime regulations only plain white pottery was permitted, so Clarice Cliff helped with the management of the pottery. After the war the public taste was for a more conservative ware rather than the striking patterns and shapes that had established Cliff's reputation; thus she never to returned to creative work.
A.J.Wilkinson and the Newport Pottery continued to sell ware under Cliff's name until 1963 when the factory was sold to Midwinter, after a chain of mergers and takeovers it was Wedgwood that owned the Clarice Cliff name and reproduced some of the more highly sought after 1930s items.
It is still possible to find examples of Crocus, Cliff's longest produced pattern (1928-1964) for as little as £30-50. The world record price for a piece of Clarice Cliff is held by Christie's, South Kensington, London, who sold an 18-inch wall plaque in the May Avenue pattern for £39,500 in 2004. Shortly after this the same auction house sold an 8-inch vase in Sunspots for £20,000.
In 2008 Cliff's pottery continues to prove both sought after and esteemed. Despite the financial depression collectors still pay high prices for special pieces. In Britain, Bonham's, London sold a 'Triple Bonjour' vase in Blue Firs for £6000, a rare Red Autumn shape 369 vase sold for £4900 at Fielding's auctioneers, Stourbridge in the West Midlands, and Woolley and Wallis auctioneers Salisbury sold a 3-inch high miniature vase in Café (used as a salesman's sample in the 1930s) for a staggering £3000.
Check out the page Clarice Cliff Pottery for details of what Clarice Cliff items are available.