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Petra on pottery

featuring West German art pottery, Fat Lava and more 20th century ceramics

  The Filigran decor by Ruscha is probably one of the most desirable decors in West German pottery. From a picture it is not always easy to spot that this is actually an early (and very pretty) example of a commercially produced lava glaze. The amalgam of female figures, dear, fishes and loose geometric shapes are inscribed in the foamy off white glaze.  My own little, treasured copy of the Filigran decor featuring in this post, is only 12 cm/4.7 inch tall, but as you can see it will fit a whole lot of decor on it. Sadly, the Filigran decor is not very photogenic. Its beauty is best appreciated ‘life’, but I did my best with the pictures to give you an idea. The decor was supposedly quite difficult to get right. I can only guess this had something to do with the unpredictability of the lava glaze during its firing, in combination with the inscribed decor. For this reason the Filigran decor was only produced for a short period of time. Being pretty, being rare and being Ruscha, collectors are willing to pay a fair amount of money for this decor nowadays. Only Roth’s Guitar vases can (still) top this. But for all its rarity, somehow you can find a Filigran (as well as a Guitar vase) on Ebay any day of the week. So, providing you have the means, you can easily get your own copy. Adele Bolz was the designer of the Filigran decor. She is quite well known to collectors of West German pottery, although her career as a decor designer was relatively short. She had started in ceramics after a career as a ballet dancer was stopped short, because of a severe illness she caught at the end of WWII. Not much is known of her education as a designer. In 1955 she began at Arno Kiechle, designing several popular decors for wall plates and vases in a multicolored engobe technique. Ruscha managed to get her over to their team in 1959. Next to the legendary Filigran decor, she made numerous pretty decors for Ruscha in the elegant style that became her hallmark. She left  in 1963 for Ulmer Keramik, where she worked till her death in 1964 (aged 50).       


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