Pacific Pottery Decorated Banner

Pacific Pottery introduced their “decorated” lines – a series of in-glazed patterns on the Hostessware shape.

Around 50 decorated Hostessware patterns have been found, but many of the patterns are undocumented. Decorated pieces may sometimes have a painted notation or stamp on the bottom indicating a pattern ID.

A 1937 article in the “California – Magazine of Pacific Business” on California pottery production states: “Pacific employs an overglaze process on decorated ware which requires three trips through the kilns, but following the third firing the pieces not only are ovenproof, but are crazeproof. California fruits, wheat and poppies are among their most popular items.” Company wholesale material refers to the ware as “Pacific Hand Decorated Fused Glaze service,” noting that “we can provide a wide range of splendid patterns in this type ware, but all patterns are sold on exclusive control.”

The triple firing process included one firing once for the bisque body, another for the base glaze color, and a third for the pattern design. Female workers created the designs on a turning wheel using glaze and brush. Due to the intensive amount of handwork, decorated items cost significantly more (30-50% higher) than standard Hostessware items.

Around the same time period, Gladding-McBean (on their Padua line) and Vernon Kilns (Harry Bird lines) were also producing dinnerware items using similar in-glazing and painting techniques. Cheaper hand-painting techniques (not requiring the third firing) were later employed by manufacturers and around 1940, Gladding-McBean (Desert Rose), Vernon Kilns (plaid lines), and Metlox (Ivy, Apple) began to find success in their painted lines. Pacific made an attempt to capitalize on this new trend, but at this point, the company was already refocusing on more profitable wartime and industrial production.

Pacific Pottery decorated pieces are most commonly found on plates and platters, although the occasional serving piece shows up. Some designs are unique – maybe even one-offs – and others more prevalent. More commonly found patterns include the “BG” plaids, 2007 and 2008 circle designs, “BH” sine waves and “BF” hub and spoke. I believe that decorated patterns were available to department and specialty stores by custom order only. Due to its bespoke production and relative cost, decorated ware is hard to find today.

The Decorated Hostessware image gallery is coming soon!