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American Treasure: Rookwood Pottery

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We recently came across these ceramic bunny paperweights by Rookwood Pottery. Their sweet, simple design was originally created in 1926 by Louise Abel, one of Rookwood’s resident artists.

In the early 1800s, Europeans considered American-made ceramics to be second-rate. Enter Maria Longworth Nichols. Determined to make a new name for American pottery, Maria gathered a group of glaze experts and celebrated artists to design her own line of Japanese-inspired tiles, ceramics, and other knick-knacks in a schoolhouse-turned-studio in Cincinnati. Rookwood Pottery was born. (Plus, it was the first ever woman-owned manufacturing company!)

Less than a decade later, Rookwood Pottery took home a gold medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, surprising all of the naysayers. The company continues to be an American icon today. Inside many of the country’s landmarks, such as Grand Central Terminal in New York City and Chicago’s Monroe Building (above), you can find intricate installations of Rookwood Pottery tile.

Every piece is created in Rookwood’s Cincinnati studio using handmade molds. After they come out of the kiln, the company’s craftsmen either spray or hand-paint them with glazes made in-house.

Many of Rookwood’s products are still made with the historical molds, like this adorable monkey paperweight, designed in the 1800s by Kataro Shirayamadani.

We love this decorative Ashbee Blossom tile, first shown in Rookwood’s catalog in 1912. Check out more of their craftsmanship here.

(photos courtesy of Rookwood Pottery)

Comments (2)

  • Thank you for sharing this beloved American, and Cincinnati, treasure.

  • My grandparents, Arthur and Patti Conant were Rookwood artists in the early 1900′s. it’s exciting to see that the company is thriving.

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