Early Art & Gardenware

Pacific Art & Gardenware

“If you can’t sell what you make, make what you can sell.”

In the early 1930s, as production from their commercial pipe and tile business was slowing down, Pacific Clay Products began to produce architectural terra cotta and expand their offerings for garden and artware. 

“Manufacture of architectural terra cotta was begun shortly before the beginning of the past year and while the volume of business has not as yet been large, the product has been excellent and is growing in popularity. The line of garden pottery and artware has been considerably enlarged. These products are manufactured in the same department and it is believed that with the return of normal conditions, will prove important additions to your company’s lines.”

According to a 1992 interview with Ken Barrette, Pacific Clay’s accountant and Secretary to the Board, Pacific attempted to use a hand-painted glaze on their stoneware body (used to make crockery). However, they found the stoneware to be too heavy and prone to crazing. Their ceramics lab began to add talc to the clay to make it less absorbent. This change also resulted in the creation of lighter-bodied ware, paving the way for their dinnerware lines.

Many of the early Pacific Pottery early artware designs may be one of a kind. According to Ken:

“We had a man who had a potter’s wheel. When there was a convention of potters, independent salespeople could come and see it [the pottery], we would always have this man take his potter’s wheel down there and make whatever anyone asked for. Somebody could come along and say “Can you do this” and he’d do it…The man [whose name was forgotten] wasn’t an employee of ours, he was hired as a contractor for this type of work. No employees made hand thrown pottery on a full-time basis.”

“One of our jiggermen could operate a wheel in a rough sort of way, but we never made anything commercially that was produced on the potter’s wheel. He would produce a sample or two, a glaze would be selected, and the item would be shown around to stores and buyers. If there was any interest in it, we would make molds for it, and either jigger or cast it.”