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Feats of clay

May 11, 2003|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

More than 2,000 people gathered at the Pasadena Center in February to buy, sell and show vintage American art pottery at the third annual Los Angeles Pottery Show. More than 75 dealers from around the country exhibited their wares alongside pottery collectors who occasionally parted with prized items. Producers Ken Stalcup and Dennis Warden already are preparing for next year's show.

We asked some devotees why they get so fired up about pottery.

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Lois Ball

Gasoline distribution controller

Carson

What's your specialty?

Ball Artware. Arthur Ball was my father. Howard Ball was my uncle and a sculptor. During WWII they made a formula that looked like porcelain but was clay.

Your first piece?

My father gave me a tail-up ring-necked pheasant. I was probably 17 or 18. I wanted it so bad.

What could you teach about collecting?

The process of making a piece of pottery. I worked for my dad.

Give us some pottery jargon.

A second is something you would sell for less money [because of] some sort of imperfection.

Your least favorite type of pottery?

I'm not crazy about a lot of cutesy-wootsie stuff.

Strangest piece you've seen?

It was a god-awful-looking mess. I wasn't sure if it was a vase or a log-like thing. It was grotesque.

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Bill Warmboe

Antiques dealer

Burlingame

What is your specialty?

The bigger architectural ceramic pieces. They came into being because of Hollywood and films like "Lawrence of Arabia."

Your first piece?

I was 20 and a starving college student. It was a Roseville Freesia. It was $45 and that was serious beer money. I had to have it.

Tips on collecting?

I look at it as an enhancement of the environment. Why not live with things you enjoy?

Give us some pottery jargon.

Oil jars. Most people would call them floor vases.

What do you call pottery collectors?

Clients.

Strangest pottery you've seen?

Things like the Martin brothers' grotesques. They were nightmarish creations of animals done in the late Victorian century.

Why collect pottery instead of, say, Tupperware?

Collect what you like. If you like Tupperware, collect that.

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Mark Harris

Construction worker

Elkhart, Ind.

What's your specialty?

Everything from California to European to American.

Your first piece?

About 14 years ago my wife Barb and I bought a piece of Roseville Clematis made in the '40s. Now we buy several hundred pieces a year.

Tips on collecting?

Buy the most expensive piece you can afford. The better pieces will hold their value.

Give us some pottery jargon.

They call the vases "pots." That's about it.

Why collect pottery instead of, say, Tupperware?

We just took a liking to it. We decorate the house with it.

Strangest pottery you've seen?

I think George Orr pottery from Biloxi, Miss. They called him the Mad Potter of Biloxi. It's ugly. There's something for everyone out there.

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John Cobabe

Antiques dealer

Redondo Beach

What's your specialty?

Amphora pottery. It's Austrian pottery from 1892 to 1910. It's in the style of Art Nouveau.

Tips on collecting?

Follow [your] heart. It's a feel-good hobby but it's good from an investment standpoint as well.

Give us some pottery jargon.

People usually say PD instead of Paul Dachsel. He was one of the major

designers of Amphora.

Pottery: Art or craft?

The better pieces rival fine art. You can do things you can't do with paintings.

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