Who's Who in California Pottery Companies

A Comprehensive List From A to H

Why did ceramics and pottery manufacturers proliferate in California during the 20th century? Was it the climate, or the fact that so many people were there or headed to California anyway?

Actually, it's several factors combined that resulted in more than 1,000 pottery companies setting up shop from San Diego to the north of San Francisco. Among the possible reasons for California becoming a hotbed of pottery production:

  • California has always attracted talented and ambitious artists and entrepreneurs
  • The Panama-California International Exposition in San Diego in 1915 introduced Spanish-Moorish -style buildings and tile with geometric designs that were copied by existing and new potteries throughout California.
  • In addition to European ethnic influences, California ceramists were influenced by Asian and Mexican art, design and culture, which was almost exclusive to California during that period. This resulted in inspired shapes and bright, beautiful colors never before seen in American pottery.
  • The clay soil and talc from places like Death Valley and Alberhill in Riverside County provided abundant natural resources perfect for producing ceramics and pottery.

Like many industries, pottery companies established their roots in California. Many flourished, while others barely managed to stay afloat for a couple of years.

At the beginning of the 20th century, several of the ceramic studios were in the more-established San Francisco area. But as Los Angeles drew attention worldwide for its sunny climate and booming movie industry, more pottery manufacturers flocked to Southern California. For natives, a glance through this list reveals pottery companies in nearly every Southern California suburb established before 1940.

Production of the table, gift, and art ware actually increased in California during World War II, as small studios popped up to fulfill the needs of an industry that cut off imported goods from Europe and Asia. It was after the war that many of the smaller studios had to close their doors, especially when import embargos were lifted.

While there were hundreds of pottery manufacturers in California, the ones included in this list produced wares that are more collectible, were longer established, or simply have more information about them. Companies that primarily produced tile, bricks or architectural products, like Batchelder or Hispano-Moresque, are not included.

Also see: California Potteries: I to Z

A list of California potteries from A to H:

Adelle

  • Where: Laguna Beach (Orange County)
  • When: 1940s
  • What: Planters

Alexander Franzka

  • Where: La Crescenta / Montrose, California (near Glendale)
  • When: 1965 to 1987
  • What: Figurines, art ware, and terracotta

American Ceramic Products

  • Where: Los Angeles and Santa Monica
  • When: 1939 to 1967
  • What: tableware, art ware, and figurines under the La Mirada and Winfield lines.

American Pottery Co.

  • Where: Los Angeles and San Juan Capistrano
  • When: 1943 to 1953
  • What: Art ware, giftware, and figurines. Also produced the Brad Keeler art ware line -- mostly animal figurines like birds, ducks and cocker spaniels.

    Ann Cochran

    • Where: North Hollywood
    • When: 1950s
    • What: Hand-painted art ware. Cochran was a former ballerina who became a ceramist and painter and was a friend and contemporary of Sascha Brastoff.

    Architectural Pottery

    • Where: Los Angeles
    • When: 1950–1962
    • What: Architectural Pottery produced commissioned pieces and designs for public buildings and facades, as well as high-end art ware, vases, and planters.

    Arequipa Pottery

    • Where: Fairfax (Northern California)
    • When: 1911–1918
    • What: Art pottery

    Artistic Potteries

    • Where: Whittier (Southern California)
    • When: 1950s
    • What: Art ware, giftware, and figurines

    B.J. Brock

    • Also known as Southern California Pottery Company
    • Where: Lawndale (Southern California)
    • When: 1947 to 1980s
    • What: Lines include Brock, Brock Ware, and Grantcrest

    Ball Brothers

    • Where: Inglewood (near Los Angeles)
    • When: 1943 to 1948
    • What: Art ware and figurines. The company started by Howard and Arthur Ball, who were, not surprisingly, brothers. A possible connection to the Ball-Jae Pottery Company?

    Barbara Willis

    • Where: North Hollywood
    • When: 1942 to 1958
    • What: Art ware and figurines. Willis' early earthenware was the "Terrene" line, which is highly collectible and features bright, crackled glazes on candle holders, boxes, vases, jugs and horse figurines.

    Bauer Pottery Company of Los Angeles

    • Where: Los Angeles
    • When: 2000 to present
    • What: Table, art, and kitchenware. Bauer Pottery manufactures Bauer 2000 pottery styled after vintage J.A. Bauer pottery. Also, produces Russel Wright's American Modern® line of dinnerware and Corita by Bauer mugs and vases featuring the art of Sister Corita Kent.

    Belmar of California

    • Where: Los Angeles
    • When: 1965 to 1967
    • What: Art ware

    The Bennetts

    • Where: Fullerton (Orange County)
    • When: 1940s to 1950s
    • What: Figurines

    Beth Barton

    • Where: La Habra (Orange County)
    • When: 1949 to 1962
    • What: Giftware and figurines

    Betty Lou Nichols

    • Where: La Habra (Orange County)
    • When: 1949 to 1962
    • What: Giftware and figurines

    Block Pottery

    • Where: Los Angeles
    • When: 1940s
    • What: Figurines, art ware, and giftware

    Brayton-Laguna Pottery

    • Where: Laguna Beach, California
    • When: 1930s to What: Historical or ethnic figurines and planters. Brayton-Laguna is credited with originating the concept of designing and selling sets or pairs of ceramic figurines. Examples: A well-dressed Victorian couple commemorating their first anniversary, a lady in a lavender dress holding a basket, with a hat over her other arm, a peasant woman holding a basket. Artists included Durlin Brayton and Andy Anderson.

      California Belleek

      • Where: Los Angeles
      • When: 1948 to 1967
      • What: Figurines, giftware, tableware and art ware

      California Ceramics

      • Also known as Ceramic Manufacturing Company
      • Where: Calabasas, California
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: Orchard Ware tableware

      The California Clemons

      • Where: El Monte
      • When: 1941 to 1963
      • What: Giftware and figurines

      California Faience

      • Where: Berkeley, California
      • When: early 1900s to 1930s
      • What: Art ware and tile. The company was founded by William Bragdon and Chauncy Thomas.

      California Pottery Co.

      • Where: Oakland, Niles, and Merced (Northern California)
      • When: 1873 to 1929
      • What: Pipe, roof tile, crockery, pottery and garden ware

      California Ra-Art

      • Where: Richmond, California
      • When: 1930s
      • What: Art ware and figurines

      Calpotter

      • Where: Laguna Beach, California
      • When: 1940s
      • What: Art ware

      Camp Del Mar Pottery

      • Where: Capitola
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: "Campo" tableware & art ware

      Capistrano Ceramics / John R. Stewart Inc.

      • Where: San Juan Capistrano, California
      • When: 1948 to 1951
      • What: Planters and figurals. Example: pink and light green shell-shaped planter.

      Carnegie Brick and Pottery Company

      • Where: Tracy (Northern California)
      • What: Brick and pottery

      Casa Verdugo Pottery

      • Where: Montrose (near Glendale)
      • When: 1940s
      • What: Pottery, figurines vases, and bowls. A 1948 newspaper advertisement lists "dainty" Casa Verdugo Pottery available in pink, white and chartreuse. Products include vine bowls, antelope heads, frog inset and 4-inch deer, herons, cranes and swans.

      Catalina Clay Products

      • Where: Avalon, Catalina Island
      • When: 1927 to 1937
      • What: Tableware, art ware, tile, giftware, and figurines

      Cemar

      • Where: Los Angeles
      • When: 1935–1955
      • What: Giftware, kitchen ware, art ware and figurines

      Ceramic Originals by Freeman-Leidy

      • Where: Laguna Beach
      • When: 1944 to 1955
      • What: Figurines, giftware, and tile

      Ceramicraft

      • Where: San Clemente (Orange County)
      • When: 1950s
      • What: Art ware

      Chalice of California

      • Where: Los Angeles
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: Tableware, art ware, and figurines

      Chase Originals

      • Where: Berkeley (Northern California)
      • When: 1930s to 1950s
      • What: Art ware and figurines

      Claire Lerner

      • Where: Los Angeles
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: Art ware and figurines

      Clay Sketches

      • Where: Pasadena
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: Figurines

      Covina Pottery

      • Where: Covina (Los Angeles County)
      • When: 1943 to 1990s
      • What: Planters, floral, art ware and TV lamps. The Covina Pottery Company existed from approximately 1943-1988 in Covina, California, and was founded by the Rhodus family. The pottery studio outlasted many of its competitors. It mostly produced floral ware in speckled glazes, with geometric and atomic Midcentury modern shapes.

      Crest China Company

      • Also known as Royal Crest China after 1952 Where: Santa Ana (Orange County)
      • When: 1949-mid 1950s What: Art ware and giftware

      DeCora Ceramics

      • Where: Inglewood (Near LAX)
      • When: 1950s
      • What: Art pottery, wall plates, and dinnerware.

      DeForest Pottery

      • Where: Duarte, California
      • When: 1950 to 1970
      • What: Pieces include condiment jars, salt, and peppers, chip and dips, banks and platters. Popular figurals were pigs and pig jars; collectible pieces include condiment jars, salt, and peppers, chip and dips, banks and platters.

      DeLee Pottery

      • Where: Hollywood
      • When: 1950s
      • What: Primarily figurines, like Dutch girls, Hawaiian singles and pairs, and animals. The Hawaiian and "exotic" figurals were often paired with lamps from the Moss Lamp company.

      Dick Knox Pottery

      • Where: Laguna Beach When: 1942–1950 What: Knox China tableware and art ware

      Doranne of California

      • Where: Los Angeles
      • When: 1950s to 1980s
      • What: Cookie jars, kitchenware, giftware, planters and garden ware

      Dorothy Kindell

      • Where: Laguna Beach
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: Giftware and figurines

      Eugene White

      • Where: Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County)
      • What: 1941 to 1948
      • What: Tableware and art ware

      Environmental Ceramics, Inc.

      Where: San Francisco
      When: 1960s
      What: Kitchenware

      Eva Zeisel

      FHR Fred Robertson Los Angeles Pottery

      • Where: Los Angeles
      • When: 1906 to 1921 What: Art ware well known for its crackle, matte, crystalline and lustered glazes. Pottery company was owned by Fred Robertson and his father, Alexander – both accomplished ceramists.

      Flintridge China Company

      • Became Gorham after 1970
      • Where: Pasadena
      • When: 1945–1970
      • What: Tableware

      Florence Ceramics

      • Where: Pasadena
      • When: 1942 to 1977
      • What: Giftware and figurines

      Franciscan Ware

      Franklin Tile Company

      Freeman McFarlin

      • Where: El Monte and San Marcos (Southern California)
      • When: 1951 to 1980
      • What: Art ware & figurines

      Gaetano Pottery

      Gainey Ceramics

      • Where: La Verne, California
      • When: 1949 to present
      • What: When the pottery company for which he had been working decided to close its doors in 1949, John Gainey bought the La Verne business. The company originally made dog bowls and water bottles (Ollas) for Sparkletts Water. Under the Gainey family's leadership, the company has produced modern, architectural style planters that are popular with designers and consumers.

      Garden City Pottery

      • Where: Lincoln and other pottery companies in California and the Pacific Northwest.
      • When: 1875 to present
      • What: Garden ware, tile, architectural products.

      Glendale Plant

      • Where: Glendale and Los Angeles
      • When: 1923 to 1984
      • What: Lines included Franciscan and Catalina Pottery art, kitchen, and tableware; Hermosa tile. Became Interface in 1962 and Franciscan Ceramics, Inc. in 1979.

      Genevieve and Charles Tulley

      • Where: Glendale
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: Lamps, art ware, and figurines

      Gladding, McBean & Co.

      • Where: Lincoln and other pottery companies in California and the Pacific Northwest.
      • When: 1875 to present
      • What: Garden ware, tile, architectural products.

      Glendale Plant

      • Where: Glendale and Los Angeles
      • When: 1923 to 1984
      • What: Lines included Franciscan and Catalina Pottery art, kitchen, and tableware; Hermosa tile. Became Interface in 1962 and Franciscan Ceramics, Inc. in 1979.

      Guppy Pottery

      • Where: Corona Del Mar, California (Orange County)
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: Island or Polynesian-themed dinnerware and serve ware. Company founded by Roy and Harriet Guppy.

      Golden State Ceramics

      • Where: Pasadena
      • When: 1940s
      • What: Art ware and giftware

      Hagen Renaker

      • Where: Monrovia and San Dimas (San Gabriel Valley)
      • When: 1946 to present
      • What: Animal figurines, giftware, planters and some Disney. Founded by John and Maxine Renaker in Culver City in 1945. Maxine’s father, Ole Hagen, helped the couple build a pottery studio in Monrovia, and a year later they set up shop in 1946. Among their most popular products are horse figurines.

      Halcyon Pottery Co.

      • Where: Pismo Beach (Central California)
      • When: 1910 to 1940
      • What: Established at a Theosophist cooperative community and sanatorium near Pismo, where founder Alexander Robertson was the instructor and director. As he did at Roblin Potteries, Robertson applied lizards, flowers and other native motifs to bisque-fired pottery including vases, pitchers, candlesticks, serve ware, paperweights, and whistles.

      Hans Sumpf Company

      • Where: Madera (Central California)
      • When: 1939 to 2006
      • What: Garden ware and architectural wall surfaces

      Harold Johnson

      • When: 1940s
      • What: Planters, flower ware, and art ware. Example: Low, water lily-shaped bowl for floating flowers.

      Heath Ceramics

      • Where: Sausalito (near San Francisco)
      • When: 1948 to present
      • What: Modern and Midcentury modern tableware, art ware and garden ware. Founded by artist and ceramist Edith Heath in 1948 after her solo pottery show at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor.

      Hedi Schoop

      • Where: Hollywood
      • When: 1940s to 1950s
      • What: Art ware and figurines. Swiss-born Schoop fled Nazi Germany in 1933 with her husband, Academy Award-winning composer Frederick Hollander. The ceramic artist was known for her charming, detailed figurines. A fire in 1958 forced the closure of her plant. She died in 1996.

      Examples: stylized ethnic figurines; Harlequin wall plaques.

      Heirlooms of Tomorrow

      • Known as California Originals after 1955
      • Where: Manhattan Beach (near LA)
      • When: 1944–1955
      • What: Figurines

      Hollydale Potteries

      • Where: Harbor City
      • When: 1935–1959
      • What: Malibu Modern tableware

      Howard Pierce

      • Where: LaVerne, Claremont, and Joshua Tree
      • When: 1941 to 1994
      • What: Giftware and figurines

      J.A. Bauer Pottery

      • Where: Los Angeles
      • When: Late 1880s to early 1960s
      • What: One of the "Top 5" California Potteries, J.A. Bauer produced colorful glazed and distinct, collectible patterns. Flower pots, crockery, table, garden and art ware.
      • For the new line of Bauer, see Bauer Pottery Co., Los Angeles (above).

      For additional information: California Potteries, The Complete Book by Mike Schneider is an older book, but quite a good reference book for those interested in learning more about the pottery companies in California.