Colorware History & Design

The Maximalist

Harry Bird

Harry Bird for Vernon Kilns

The artist and potter William “Harry” Bird designed several bespoke patterns for Vernon Kilns in the mid- to late-1930s. Little is known about Bird – there are rumors that he rented space in Vernon’s plant; there is no indication that he was an employee of the company and may have produced his work under contract or self-distributed. All of Harry Bird’s designs were produced on Vernon’s “Montecito” shape (Early California and others). Bird may have been the first to leverage the in-glazing technique of decorating, also used by Pacific Pottery on their decorated ware starting around 1935.

Olinala- and Montezuma-Aztec Patterns

Vernon Kilns Harry Bird AztecAccording to this advertising piece, the actress Dolores Del Rio commissioned a set of dinnerware from Harry Bird and Vernon Kilns based on traditional Mexican pottery designs.  Vernon Kilns offered it to the public as Olinala-Aztec (with rings) and Montezuma-Aztec (no rings). The pottery was available in four colors: blue, green, yellow (orange), and rose on a light beige background. As with most of Harry Bird’s designs, these patterns are hard to come by.

Vernon Kilns Harry Bird Qwkdog

Olinala-Aztec Examples & Backstamp

Vernon Kilns Olinala Aztec Vernon Kilns Olinala Aztec Vernon Kilns Olinala Aztec

Harry Bird Patterns

  • Aztec: Montezuma-Aztec, Olinala-Aztec
  • Banded Flower (BB, BP, BY and BG designated patterns; first letter is for Bird, second is for color, number indicates flower pattern)
  • Bird Series (Scarlet Tanager, Parrots, Blue Birds, Bird Ring)
  • Blooming Cactus
  • Duo-tone (unless noted, with matte glazes):
    • Beige (single color)
    • Bridal Satin (ivory color)
    • Pomegranate
    • Evening Star (blue and ivory)
    • Golden Maple (burnt orange and ivory)
    • Avocado (green and ivory)
    • After Glow (yellow and ivory)
    • Tangerine (orange-red and ivory)
  • Flower series
    • Begonia
    • Bird’s Eye
    • Cassia
    • Checker Bloom
    • Chinese Lantern
    • Columbine
    • Desert Mallow
    • Desert Poppy
    • Eucalyptus
    • Fiddleneck
    • Geranium
    • Golden Brodiaea
    • Guatomote
    • Incienso
    • Iris
    • Lady Slipper
    • Larkspur
    • Lily Blue
    • Lily Orange
    • Lion’s Tail
    • Lupin
    • Mariposa Tulip
    • Morning Glory
    • Nasturtium
    • Petunia
    • Phacelia
    • Trumpet Flower
    • Water Lily
    • Wild Pink
  • Nautical
    • Anchor, Flags, Lantern, Life Saver, Sextant, Square Knot, Wheel
  • Spectrum (geometric designs)
    • B-30X, Vert, Jaune, Multi-Flori California, Polychrome A-E
  • Tahiti A-C
  • Tropical Fish
    • Fantail

QwkDog Design | QwkDog.com

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