Monday, April 29, 2019

Original Vintage Prototype Stein in Blue and White Stripes by Weston Neil Andersen



The Blue and white stein is an Andersen classic. This stein is probably the original prototype. It is signed on the bottom with a hand scripted “Andersen”, painted in blue decorating color against a background circle glazed in white.

It is very rare to find the signature on glazed background indicating that the work was created early on, before the glazed background was dropped for production reasons. 


Before Weston designed the prototypes for individual pieces, he made many sketches of a complete line of functional forms on any piece of paper handy, including napkins from road side diners, This is likely the original prototype of the stein because he wasn’t thinking about brand identity when he signed it in simple script with his last name.

By the time Dad did the second stein, shown with it in some pictures, the idea of a brand identity, complete with a logo, began to evolve as Weston started to sign his work with “A” instead of “Andersen” The way the signature on this stein is written in fluid decorating color, makes it difficult to determine if the spelling is “Anderson” or “Andersen”, but I interpret it to be “Anderson”. The changing of the spelling from the Swedish spelling to the Danish spelling indicates the thought process at work in developing a brand identity. Weston’s ancestors are Danish. The decision to use the ancestral spelling of his last name is an integral acknowledgement of who he is and how he came to be here in the grander scope of human history.

The stein is shown with second stein made around the same time. The second stein is signed with an “A’ on an unglazed background. In the early fifties Andersen Design was called Ceramics by Anderson.

The year was actually 1952





The original prototype stein is perfect in form, representing the way that Weston intended it to be produced. The cast is thin and the stein is taller than the second stein shown with it. The difference in length has to do with a longer grinding process used on the lip of the second stein so that it is not only shorter but it does not flair out as much as in the original prototype.

                              Purchase this Rare Vintage Prototype Stein for your special collection



This stein is a product of a moment in history and a perfect example of the prototypical form of the classic Andersen Design Blue striped stein, all hand-made and decorated by, Weston Neil Anderson.

Andersen Design is an American Designer Craftsmen Studio established by Weston and Brenda Andersen in 1952 on Southport Island, Maine, USA. The studio was started with a philosophy of creating hand crafted products affordable to the middle class. Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio when most of the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets and competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports, producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. Andersen Design stands as a singular American original design company taking a unique alternative path during an era of global transformation.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

One of a Kind Vintage Portrait Bowls by Brenda Andersen


Andersen Design is an American Designer Craftsmen Studio established by Weston and Brenda Andersen in 1952 on Southport Island, Maine, USA. The studio was established with a philosophy of creating hand crafted products affordable to the middle class. It designed original glazes and decorative techniques and designed a line of contemporary functional forms and nature sculptures, using slip cast production as the medium for creating art. 

Brenda developed archetypical patterns as repeatable patterns to be rendered by the unique hand 
of individual artisans so that no two were ever exactly alike. She also used the ceramic medium to create many one-of-kind artworks. One of her favorite subjects was portraiture.



This bowl is an original one  of a kind object created by Brenda Nash Andersen


The story begins with Weston and Brenda setting out to create a unique and creative American ceramic design and slip casting company without anyone to tell them how do it. This bowl is a portrait of a journey in its beginning.

The portrait is of Susan, the second eldest daughter, which is myself, author of this description. I look to be about the age I was when our family moved to Maine, dating this bowl at 1952.

Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio at a time when most of the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets. The company competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports, producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. The work was collected by Americans of every walk of life and collections handed down through the generations.

Andersen Design stands as a singular original American design company choosing an alternative path during an era of global transformation. It is my inherited responsibility to tell the story of this unique American company. The practice of creating and making ceramics is as invaluable an aspect of what Andersen Design innovated, as are the hand-made objects created by the process.




Karen or Gerda? That is the Question.



There is a debate as to whether it is a portrait of Karen, the eldest daughter or Gerda, the third daughter. While I agree that it looks more like Gerda than Karen, the similarity of the signatures with the bowl above, which is clearly a portrait of Susan and not Elise, since Susan and Elise have distinctly different eyes and hair. Susan's hair was always curly, and Elise's hair was straight. The signature of the two bowls are almost identical.


The bowls are dated by the signatures on the bottom in which “Andersen” is spelled the Swedish way, as “Anderson”. Weston’s family is Danish but when they first migrated to America someone changed the spelling of “Andersen” to “Anderson”. Weston changed the spelling back to “Andersen” in the fifties but this bowl has the signature signed with an “O” indicating that it was done at a very early date and that the portrait is of Karen, the eldest daughter.





















That point made, it can be a mistake to identify a work by the signature on the bottom. For years I thought This work of a girl jump roping was by my mother. It is true it has a child like aspect to it, but mother had such a character that it did not seem implausible that she could have created this piece and her signature is on the bottom:







However when we started reviewing pieces known to have been done by myself as a child, the theme emerged that I painted wreaths around the characters. It then became more plausible that my mother signed the bottoms of the platters before she painted them. I came along and did my own art work on a platter which my mother had already signed, making the girl jumping rope a self portrait by this author.







Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio when most of the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets and competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports, producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. Andersen Design stands as a singular American original design company taking the road less travelled during an era of global transformation.