Tuesday, 15 March 2011

When West meets East

Margaret Rankin
(1956- )

Canadian linocut printer.

When I stumbled over this picture (left) of a print showing "just" a nice pot I immediately was taken in by the great eastern atmosphere. Maybe also because of the red cartouche or printers seal. I know these pots. They are German clayware of the late 1960’s and 70’s. They were manufactured in West Germany. And very of the period. Everybody had them, we had them, we still have them.

I think they are so good I decided showing you all 8 vase prints I found. With Margarets permission.

There is a strong revival going on and these thickly glazed vases, nicknamed Fat Lava, are highly collectible and fashionable once again. Mass produced but handglazed. See for example:
http://www.retrotogo.com/2006/10/fat_lava_german.html. Or just Google Fat Lava pictures.

They have much in common with the centuries old design and mass produced storage (ginger) jars and Chinese and Japanese household ceramics.

I know of only one printer who took ceramics as a characteristic subject of his work. Japanese Haku Maki (1924-2000). His pots and tea ceremony cups printed in a mixed technique using cement/concrete blocks and woodblocks are without equivalent in the print making world.

Maki was one of the 10 chosen artists for James Michener's 1968 book: the Modern Japanese Print. He even had the courage to print "just a rock". And if you don’t know, at first glance you’ld swear it was a photograph. How much more Zen can you get. He made many more prints of fruits and japanese caracters etc.. but they fall outside the purpose of this posting.

I found only one other woodblock relief print of a solitary pot, this lovely little but great Ex-Libris by Tasaburo Takahashi (b.1904 - ) as simple and delicate as the pot itself. There is more proof telling Margaret knew of vases and ceramics Haku Maki.

Above Haku Maki, below Margaret Rankin

Haku Maku can not longer set himself doing a Germany made Fat Lava vase, but what if Margaret decided to do a classic Chinese or Japanese pot or gingerjar ?
She did after all do this great Becky Brown, 1951 pot . My favorite. Or is it the bleu one ?. Or the Polka Dotts ? I think I love them all !
Smaller pictures are mouse-clickable.
Visit Margaret at:

There is even one or two (the last ones of the very small editions) for sale.


  1. I will say this, Gerrie - I much prefer the prints of the pots to the pots themselves.

  2. I agree, the prints are great, and when it comes to taste .... These pots and vases have their on place in space and time I think.