West German pottery of the 1960s & 70s, better known as Fat Lava, is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it – there’s no middle ground. Although I’ve seen huge installations in art galleries and stylish illustrations produced for magazines or calendars, I haven’t seen much other ‘art’ produced with it as a subject. Until today, when I was contacted by artist, bookbinder, framer, and ex-particle physics doctor, Joseph Lilley. Inspired by my book and his own burgeoning ceramics collection, he’s produced a series of prints in saturated, vivid, almost neon, clashing colours that capture the avant garde brightness of the ceramics themselves and are perhaps as shocking to our eyes today as the ceramics were when they first came out. I also rather like the way they are placed against a curtain, almost like some of the (often hilarious) staged family portraits of the period. To get the distinct look, Lilley used a Risograph machine. About this, he says, “This technology was designed for economical high volume …

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Kevin Graham of the Pottery & Glass Forum has alerted me to the fact that a number of vintage Fat Lava glazes and shapes by Otto Keramik are now being reproduced. So far, the shapes are the UFO vases shown in the image below and the bulls (sometimes called bison) that were originally produced by Ruscha. The shapes are identical in size and detail as Otto Keramik are using the original moulds. As you can see, the glazes are very typical of those used during the 1960s & 70s, so it’s easy to be caught out. A few collectors already have been when buying on eBay. I think it’s important to point out that these pieces are being produced and sold by Otto Keramik as brand new – there’s no intention to deceive from their side. They’re a working pottery who are simply responding to the fashion and demand for retro pottery from the 1960s & 70s. The problems come when unscrupulous, or simply unaware, sellers offer them as vintage pieces to unwitting collectors. …

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Fat Lava in the Netherlands

Back in June, I was honoured to be asked to travel to Amsterdam to open an all-new exhibition dedicated to Fat Lava. The organisers, Kevin Graham of the Pottery & Glass Forum and Emiel Monnink of Retrominded, had done a wonderful job, with hundreds of different ceramics on display. Pieces ranged from the unique, such as an amazing studio piece by Gerda Heuckeroth, to more commonly found and more affordable 1960s & 70s Scheurich vases. Colours were vibrant, glazes textured, and the 70-ish people who arrived for the opening were all on top form. It was super to be able to put faces to so many names I had ‘met’ over the internet, but never actually met in person. In the evening, a number of us, including Kevin, Emiel, studio potter Thomas Kummer, and British Fat Lava dealer Stuart of Bygone Times, went out for a very memorable and highly enjoyable celebratory dinner. During the day I had met and been interviewed by Caroline, a lovely freelance writer who was …

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Since Graham Cooley and I launched the first ‘Fat Lava’ exhibition and bookalogue in 2006, West German pottery has gone global. We certainly weren’t the first to appreciate this quirky and often much-maligned pottery from the 1960s & 70s, but the combined event crystalised the market, which has grown and grown like Flopsy since then. One of the strongest forces behind this growth is Kevin Graham, who runs the Pottery & Glass Forum, and is the author and publisher of a number of invaluable specialist books on the area. He’s teamed up with retro dealer and collector Emiel Monnink of Retrominded to launch a fantastic exhibition in Amsterdam. Of course, there’ll be plenty of the mass-produced Fat Lava designs that so many of us know and love on display. However, as the title ‘More Than Fat Lava’ suggests, there more to it than that, as a huge array of German studio pottery from the same period will also be exhibited. This is the first time that these two facets of 20thC ceramic …

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All New Updated Fat Lava Info!

Any of you Fat Lava fans who haven’t come across Kevin Graham yet are missing a major trick. Kevin has been collecting and researching West German studio and factory ceramics for well over a decade now, and runs the highly popular and successful ‘Pottery & Glass Forum‘, which is free to join. I’d encourage you to join, as it’s the best place to exchange information about a subject we all love with like-minded people. I’d also encourage you to check out his publications, which are positively bursting with information. Kevin’s first two books were ground-breaking in their own right, and he followed them up with an expanded database of shape numbers and manufacturers on a CD ROM. Now, he has updated both of those once again. ‘Spritzdecor to Fat Lava II’ improves on the first with 18 more designer profiles, 8 more factories, new information on over 20 factories, 60 new photographs and much more. Fitting with our period of austerity, it’s also 10 euros cheaper at 49.95 euros. The third volume of ‘West & East …

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Over 50,000 View Fat Lava Film On YouTube

Fat Lava on YouTube

The number speaks for itself. The first ever film dedicated to fabulous Fat Lava ceramics has been viewed on YouTube over 55,000 times – and counting! I don’t need to tell you that this is a truly staggering amount that just goes to show how this movement is moving and shaking the world of 20thC decorative arts. It was filmed at the first ever exhibition of West German ceramics from the 1960s-70s, held at the King’s Lynn Arts Centre back in Summer 2006. Lavish panoramas of the exhibition are combined with stunning detail shots and interviews with the owner of the collection, Graham Cooley, a number of dealers, and me. The full version, running to 16 minutes, can be bought on CD by clicking here. Otherwise, you can join the 55,000+ who have enjoyed the short 4 minute version by clicking here, or viewing the video below.

STOP PRESS – YOUR HELP IS REQUIRED! This video could not have been filmed, and neither this landmark exhibition nor the book could have happened, without …

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Scheurich

My good collector friends Kath and Eddie, who I first met at the first Fat Lava exhibition organised by Graham Cooley in 2006, are lucky people. But then they also work jolly hard at finding the most amazing pieces and researching them, so they deserve it. I have to admit to turning a rather strong shade of green when I saw Eddie’s latest discovery. You can see it above, and I think you’ll do the same! For those of you who don’t recognise it, it’s a Scheurich ‘Wien’ (Vienna) shape floor vase, designed by A. Seide. Produced both with and without a handle, this example is numbered 428-65. What makes this one both rare and highly desirable is its VAST size! They’re not particularly hard to find in smaller sizes, but huge ones such as this are very rare indeed, meaning few can have been made, and even fewer can have survived domestic accidents such as over-enthusiastic hoovering! It measures a staggering 66cm (42in) in height, and has a girth of 106cm (42in) – here’s …

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Fat Lava on TV

Miranda

Tipped off by a good friend who knows how I like to spot things I’m interested in on TV, I watched a couple of episodes of the very amusing new BBC Two comedy ‘Miranda’ last night. And sure enough, the Fat Lava vases I was promised were there. The series details the haphazard and hilarious life of Miranda, a 34 year old singleton who runs a joke and junk shop in leafy Surrey. And it’s not just her shop that’s filled with vintage gems – all the sets, including the restaurant next door, are bag up-to-date with a very contemporary mix of antique, vintage, retro and modern.

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Fat Lava II Exhibition

Mark Hill and Graham Cooley with Fat Lava

If you’re into Fat Lava, the crazy and unique ceramics produced in West Germany from the 1960s-70s, you simply must take a trip to Reading this month. I’ve just got back from the grand opening today, and my jaw is still on the floor. Eminent private collector Graham Cooley and progressive dealer Al Baynham of the mid20c Retro Shop (left) have literally pulled out all the stops to present you with a truly eye-popping and mouth-watering display that leads on perfectly from the ground-breaking first Fat Lava exhibition held in King’s Lynn in 2006. Al has devoted his entire shop to the exhibition, which is divided into two rooms. Everything in the large, light and airy front room is for sale and, given the colourful and crazy shop window display, I’m amazed there’s haven’t been any minor accidents on the road outside! From floor vase to bud vase, Roth to Scheurich, Bay to Jasba, and prices that range from £15 to £300, there’s something here for you whether you’re looking to build your collection, …

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Fat Lava II is here

FatLavaIIArrives

It’s finally here! The second, revised and expanded edition of Fat Lava has finally arrived! After a couple of glitches, a long lorry drew up outside today to deliver a palette of boxes. The moment it did this, the clouds opened and the rain poured down. With no trolley, each and every box had to unloaded by hand – thankfully the delivery driver was patient! On the other hand, he had his warm and dry cab, while I soaked myself to the bone. Come an’ get ’em! If you’d like copy, visit our shop to place your order and pay now. The first edition sold out in just over 18 months, so don’t miss out! I’m now all set for the opening of the second Fat Lava exhibition at Mid20C in Reading, Berkshire, on Saturday, and the month of online events that follow it. For more information, check out www.fat-lava.org. I hope to see you there!

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