Eva Zeisel Fine Stoneware, 1953<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Western-Stoneware-Plate-1.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Eva Zeisel Fine Stoneware, 1953<div class="ExternalClassFE37F5E15F554BA0948E769A2B3D72A6"><div class="row"><div class="col-sm-6"> <a title="View a larger image" href="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Western-Stoneware-Plate.jpg" target="_blank"> <img class="img-thrumbnail" alt="Eva Zeisel Fine Stoneware, 1953" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Western-Stoneware-Plate.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:261px;" /></a></div><div class="col-sm-6"><a title="View a larger image" href="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Western-Stoneware-Plate-2.jpg" target="_blank"><img class="img-thrumbnail" alt="Eva Zeisel Fine Stoneware, 1953" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Western-Stoneware-Plate-2.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:261px;" /></a></div></div><p>​Western Stoneware Company was created in 1906 through the merger of seven long-established stoneware and pottery plants operating in Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. Monmouth Pottery Company in Monmouth, Illinois became Plant One and served as the main office until the 1950s; Weir Pottery Company, also in Monmouth, was Plant Two. Other plants operated in the Illinois communities of Macomb and White Hall. Originally a manufacturer of utilitarian containers such as crocks, churns, and jugs, Western Stoneware offered its first art ware in 1919, followed by artistic dinnerware in the 1930s. </p><p>In 1953, the company hired Eva Zeisel (1906–2011), a well-known designer of mass-produced ceramics, to design a new line of fresh, informal dinnerware that would appeal to modern post-war consumers. She maintained her studio in New York City, but was living in Chicago where her husband, Hans Zeisel, was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. </p><p>Zeisel had never made dinnerware out of stoneware, but was familiar with it from Central and Eastern Europe. She had worked as a designer at ceramic factories in her native Hungary, as well as in Germany and the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s, before immigrating to the United States in 1938. </p><p>She began with drawings and paper cutouts, then carved shapes to give them greater finesse. In addition to conventional shapes, she created whimsical bird-shaped bowls, covered casseroles, cruets, and tea sets, many in familial shapes that complemented each other. The designs were cleverly functional: basic casseroles had lids that allowed for stacking; heads on the bird-shaped dishes formed handles or became ladles; wings on the bird-shaped teapot formed the lid. </p><p>Zeisel also designed patterns and developed a technique for their application. She created playful patterns featuring fish, birds, stars, rosettes, and scrolls from potato stamps, then had rubber stamps made for use in hand printing the patterns onto the pottery. Pieces featured a new Cloud Gray glaze rather than the light tan color of traditional salt-glazed stoneware. </p><p>The Eva Zeisel Fine Stoneware line, marketed by her own design studio in 1953, garnered substantial orders, but it was short-lived. Western Stoneware, facing a general production slowdown, closed not long after. When the company reopened under new owners, the special kiln developed to produce the Zeisel line had been destroyed in a devastating factory fire. </p><p>Western Stoneware produced a wide variety of stoneware food containers through the 1970s; it specialized in crocks, bakeware, and giftware from the 1980s through 2006. Since then, the company has focused on art ware and specialty products. </p><p>Western Stoneware has undergone several changes in ownership since 1956. Former employees Ursel and Gene Wade were among owners of the company from 1967 through 1973; their son David Wade and his wife, Linda, purchased Western Stoneware in 2014, and continue to produce pottery in Monmouth. </p> </div>GP0|#4d5487c7-6c01-4b88-9e82-8eacd4171124;L0|#04d5487c7-6c01-4b88-9e82-8eacd4171124|Western Stoneware Company;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#b8008031-8d86-41bf-8c8c-657f66f046d4;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7China;#TemporaryStoneware;#Monmouth, IllinoisGlazed stoneware, Plates: 11 inches in diameter. Pitcher [not shown]: 11 × 9 inches. Western Stoneware Company Collection of David Wade