Introduced in 1972, you could be forgiven for thinking that Botanic Garden was the only design Portmeirion produced such was it's popularity for at least two decades. It was charming. Delicate illustrations of garden delights in feminine hues with Moths and Butterflies recalled the then highly sought after Victorian and Edwardian botanic drawings. The shape of the china was beautiful too.
But this well known design is only one of the many wonderful collections produced by Portmeirion.
My favourite era for the pottery is the 1960s when founder Susan William-Ellis had just begun to design shapes. Everything about her early designs scream 60s from the astonishing shapes, colours and magical glazes. I love the raised patterns she borrowed from native American Indians on Totem, hence the name she gave it.
|Totem coffee set|
Totem was produced in amber, olive green, dark blue and white. The white items are hard to find today and considered rather rare. They produced coffee and tea sets, dishes, bowls and cheese and serving dishes.
The coffee set was iconic but proved not all that practical with it's tall pot and thin handle and spout. Many were broken, but the glaze held up and although examples may now be crazed it is usually superficial. They are such beautiful designs that even to have them to look at is a joy.
|Coffee cup in the dark blue glaze|
|Totem tea pot and cup|
|Totem plate, canister and tureen.|
They say copying is the greatest form of flattery and copied it was. This is my own teapot, a Scandia design. I love it, it's short strong silhouette, glaze and raised decoration recall Totem, but I do long for the real thing which is so much more refined.
|Another look-alike, this one is by Lord Nelson Pottery. |
It is nice .... but still not quite Totem.
|Portmeirion Village, where it all began.|
For those who do not know, Portmeirion Pottery was founded in 1960 when pottery designer Susan Williams-Ellis (daughter of Clough Williams-Ellis the creator of Portmeirion the fantastic fantasy holiday village where The Prisoner was filmed) and her husband, Euan Cooper-Willis took over A.E. Gray Ltd, a small pottery decorating company in Stoke on Trent.
Susan had been commissioning her designs with A.E. Gray in order to produce items to sell in the gift shop at Portmeirion Village. In 1961 Susan and Euan expanded when they bought Kirkhams Ltd, another small pottery. This which allowed them to manufacture pottery, and not just decorate it. Having previously only designed surface pattern she now began to design her iconic shapes as well.
These two businesses were combined and Portmeirion Potteries was born.
Susan Williams-Ellis' early Portmeirion designs include Malachite (1960) and Moss Agate (1961). In 1963 Susan launched Totem. Totem's bold, tactile and abstract pattern coupled with its striking cylindrical shape propelled Portmeirion to the forefront of fashionable design. they stayed there for many years to follow.
In the latter half of the 60s she remained right on target with her visions. In the era of hippies, pschedelia pattern and colours fuelled by the trippy drug culture her designs had a fairytale air about them.
|The original design was sketched while at the 'Monte Sol' hotel in Ibiza, |
the 'Marrakesh' colourway with its striking lime green colourway appeared a few years later, 1960's.
From Flicker Here:
Susan died in 2007 but her great talent lives on in much coveted pieces she designed which are still being copied even today.
Portmeirion Own site
Retro Wow site