A visit to Rookwood

It has been quiet here on the studio blog while I get the horse color book ready for publication, but I wanted to share a recent trip to the old Rookwood Pottery while I had a moment. I’ll apologize up front for the poor quality of the pictures, but all I had was my cell phone. I was kicking myself for not packing the good camera.

Rookwood was an influential ceramics company around the turn of the last century that played a big role in the development of art pottery. As someone who has always been attracted to the Arts & Crafts Movement – both aethestically and philosophically – I had long admired their pottery. That was why my husband, back when we were newly married, suggested that we have dinner at The Rookery while visiting his home town of Cincinnati. It was the restaurant that used the old pottery building.

The restaurant closed shortly after that, so I was thrilled to learn that it had recently reopened as The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant. My sister-and-law and I had lunch there, and I took the picture above of one of the brick bottle kilns that are situated throughout the dining area. There are dining tables inside each of the kilns, but unfortunately my camera was not able to capture them. Here is a good image of one.

These are the buildings that once housed the pottery. The buildings are located in Mount Adams which overlook the city of Cincinnati. It is a lovely setting.

This is one side of the ornate gates that sit at the entrance to the old pottery buildings. Both sides are topped with the same sculpture of nesting rooks. There is a small fountain off to the side with more rooks, too.

I was also able to see an exhibit at the local art museum on Rookwood faience, or glazed architectural terra cotta. (Ceramics seem to like to assign the same term for different things, just to keep things interesting. Faience is also a type of tin-glazed earthenware pottery, but Rookwood produced the former kind of faience.) I took quite a number of pictures, though not as many and not as detailed as I would have liked due to camera limitations. I plan to post those separately, since there are technical aspects I’d love to talk about here.

I also picked up a fascinating book, though I suspect it might be a while before I have time to do more than peruse it.

I find the Rookwood story interesting because, like most of the ceramic companies in the equine collectibles industry, it was started by a woman who initially created the items as a hobby. There are other parallels as well, like the fact that Rookwood initially offered its wares as bisque for others to glaze, and that the company made its name through success through competition. I often think the ceramic community that I am a part of is a bit odd in relationship to the rest of the ceramic world, but in some ways it seems that we aren’t odd… we are a revival!

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2 Responses to A visit to Rookwood

  1. Joanie August 3, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    What a nice post to wake up to! Beautiful place… how was the food? (grin) That must be an interesting story, I may have to pick that book up too. Hugs, Joanie

  2. Lesli Kathman August 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Oh, the food was wonderful! Any menu item that starts with the words “four cheese” usually is. 😀

    Oh, and a little bird is telling you not to order the book (unless you want two of them). 😉

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