Clarice Cliff is one of the most important and prolific designers of the 20th century. Between 1927 and 1940 Cliff designed more than five hundred shapes, and 2000 patterns. Her Art Deco designs show her sense of fun and love of modern fashion. Clarice Cliff is highly collectable internationally, and the pieces are still practical for use today.
Clarice Cliff was one of eight siblings born into a working class potteries family in Tunstall in 1899, right in the heart of Staffordshire pottery country. Clarence trained to become a teacher, but after passing the exams aged 16 she decided to learn all she could about pottery. She started to work at Wilkinson’s Royal Staffordshire Pottery, and it was soon obvious that Clarence showed talent. While at Wilkinson’s in Newport Clarice Cliff introduced the “Hand Painted Bizarre by Clarice Cliff”. Originally it was a way to decorate old blank earthenware with colourful patterns, but her success catapulted her to the job of art director. During the height of Art Deco production Clarice had over 300 people working on pottery. Most were flapper type girls with modern attitudes and style.
In 1940 Clarice married Colley Shorter, the son of the owner of the factory, and he helped her set up a small studio at Newport Pottery.
Clarice Cliff uses a warm yellow “honey glaze” which gives an ivory background. Vibrant reds, greens, blues, and yellows. Names of her designs were evocative including Sunrise, Tennis, Crocus, Alpine, and Autumn, Garden, Butterfly, and Bird of Paradise. There are well-documented shapes, Bonjour, Conical, Daffodil, Lynton and Trieste. Collectors may however be interested in some of the under documented shapes such as Celtic Harvest, Indian Tree and Chestnut.
Reproductions and fakes of Clarice Cliff designs are plentiful, easily distinguishable by inferior colour and design. It is always best to buy antiques from your dealer to avoid disappointment. Clarice Cliff will continue to be internationally respected and is always a wise investment.