June 16, 2021

Blacks & Grays: Matte & Gloss

BLACK GLAZES – VINTAGE & CONTEMPORARY

An early list includes only: Black

BLACK GLOSS and BLACK MATTE GLAZES, both pre-1908

ca. 1907 Tile, Glossy Black & Matte Blue & Green;
1902 #21 in shades of Black & Brown with experimental marks

Artus developed and created pieces in several shades of black.  The center piece is marked as an experimental in Black & Brown Glaze, and dated 1902.  The tile is a vintage, probably pre-1908 with Black Gloss glaze, with flowers in Blue & Green Matte glazes. 

The Black Gloss tile is also used on spaces between windows on the roof of the 1908 Memorial Pottery, south side of the building. 

MIDNIGHT BLACK MATTE GLAZE – introduced 1979

Midnight , a matte black glaze. A reproduction of the original 1908 Chimney Cat that adorned the chimney of the 1908 Memorial Pottery, until stolen in the 1960s.

Jeff Stevenson, son of the pottery owner Ken Stevenson; was the person who created this glaze. He worked at VBPCo during the summers and on Saturdays from 1969 until 1977; then full time, after graduating from Univ. of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) with a degree in Ceramic Engineering. After graduation, until late 1988, Jeff was responsible for glaze development (and troubleshooting), and also shared general management with his father, Ken Stevenson.

Jeff shares that, “Midnight, a matte black glaze, which was very similar to the Russet glaze except for the use of a different blend of colorant oxides, was placed into production on October 24, 1979 and discontinued in 1984.”

JET BLACK GLOSS GLAZE – introduced 1984-85

Black Gloss Glaze introduced about 1984 or 1985 Figurals such as elephants & donkeys were produced by VBPCo. in the mid-century period.
Jet Black Gloss with White Frost, mid-century Stock #8. Gift from “Blue” our son-in-law, on 12-25-06, prior to his marriage to Anna. He embraced the passion for VB; & he & Anna collected as well.
Jeff Stevenson states that the white frost makes them appear blue.

Jeff Stevenson shares that a Jet Black glaze was in use prior to 1969 at the 21st Street Roundhouse location. In the summer of 1969 when he began working summers and Saturdays; “there were only 5 glazes in production: 2 matte glazes (Turquoise Ming and Moonglo) and 3 gloss glazes (Jet Black, Brown and Dark Brown). Jeff also noted, “the gloss glazes were sometimes referred to as ‘Volcanic Ash’ glazes. I think this was mostly for marketing purposes, although their recipes did include some bentonite, which is a clay derived from the decomposition of volcanic ash.” Jeff worked on creating gloss glazes that could be fired at higher temperatures and were craze-resistant, and much stronger than the low temperature gloss-glazed pieces of the 1970s. His best recollection is that this improved Black Gloss glaze was created by him in 1984 or 1985.

SHADES OF GRAY 1902 to 1906 Early Records listed 3 shades of Gray

Design #522, dated 1905
#259 (mismarked design #?) 1906; #109, 1906
1902 Original, 11″ ht., inscribed in handwriting attributed to Artus Van Briggle

There were no records of color photos or better descriptions of color comparisons during the very early years.

Dove Gray, introduced in 1984

Jeff Stevenson also developed this glaze about 1984, while working as a Ceramic Engineer at Van Briggle Pottery. This piece is an original by his brother, Craig Stevenson.