Teco Vase 310, with Twisted Leaf Blades, 1902–1906<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Gates-Teco-Vase-310.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Teco Vase 310, with Twisted Leaf Blades, 1902–1906<div class="ExternalClassAAEE8D399011494E99FCA7465084F198"><p>​Founded in 1881, William Day Gates' firm, American Terra Cotta & Ceramic Company in Terra Cotta (now Crystal Lake), manufactured architectural terra cotta, one of the basic construction materials used in sheathing the new skyscrapers being built in Chicago and other major cities. Around 1899, Gates introduced a unique line of art pottery that he called Teco ware, a contraction of terra cotta, made by a subsidiary, Gates Potteries.</p><p>The decorative pottery made by Gates Potteries was a natural outgrowth of Gates' architectural terra cotta business. Making Teco pottery kept the company's skilled workmen—sculptors, chemists, mold-makers, finishers, and various clayworkers—busy during the slow periods between orders for terra cotta. The same manufacturing processes and kilns were used for producing and firing the pottery. The use of industrial methods of production also allowed Gates to market Teco ware at moderate prices.</p><p>Teco art pottery relied on shape and glaze rather than decoration for its appeal. A cool matte green, with some variation in shade and texture, was the staple glaze through their period of highest production, from 1902 until 1909. After 1909, various autumn-inspired colored glazes supplemented the green.</p><p>Although an amateur potter, Gates turned to company employees, local artists, and friends in the building industry for assistance in creating unique and distinctly modern shapes. Fellow Chicago Architectural Club members, as well as prominent architects, such as William LeBaron Jenney and Frank Lloyd Wright, provided highly original forms. Architect William J. Dodd, a Jenney protégé, contributed several designs, including a jardinière with lily pads, buds, and arum leaves in relief, inspired by the lily pond located at Gates' factory.</p><p>Fritz Albert, his chief architectural modeler between 1893 and 1909, not only sculpted the elegant forms in clay but contributed striking avant-garde designs of this own. Gates himself designed many shapes, ranging from simple vases to architectonic pieces with straps and buttresses. Artists Blanche Ostertag, Holmes Smith, and Orlando Giannini contributed designs. Giannini's art glass company also fabricated shades for Teco lamps as well as American's stunning glass pavilion at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. By then, Gates Potteries offered nearly 300 shapes.</p><p>Teco was made sporadically through the 1920s. In 1930, Gates sold American Terra Cotta & Ceramic Company to George A. Berry, Jr., who reorganized the company as American Terra Cotta Corporation in 1935. In addition to its architectural construction products, the company made garden pottery under the name of Teco Potteries from the mid-1930s until 1952.</p></div>GP0|#6c880907-e12c-4b8e-89e2-75b3d7ba63d2;L0|#06c880907-e12c-4b8e-89e2-75b3d7ba63d2|Gates Potteries;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#b8008031-8d86-41bf-8c8c-657f66f046d4;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7Other;#TemporaryEarthenware;#Pottery;#Crystal Lake, IllinoisGlazed earthenware, 18½ × 6½ inches Fritz Wilhelm Albert (1865, Cocceye Neud, Germany–1940, Chicago, Illinois), designer. Collection of Crab Tree Farm, Lake Bluff, Illinois