This edition of Friday Folks features Kevin Graham. We came across him online a few years ago when we were trying to find more details about some of the ceramic items that we’d been accumulating for our shop. Kevin is one of the founding members & admins of the online Pottery and Glass Forum - a group full of very friendly & extremely knowledgeable people from all around the world. You can also find him endeavouring to spread the Fat Lava love around the virtual world via Twitter and Flickr
Who are you & what do you do?
I am Kevin James Graham. I am a researcher & Author on factual books on West/East German pottery. To date I have written Spritzdecor to Fat Lava (hardback), and West & East German Pottery Marks & Form Numbers (hardback). Both limited edition books which came out in July 2009 with only 250 copies of each.
Since the publication of these two hardcover books, I switched to CD as a medium and introduced Spritzdecor to Fat Lava Book/CD and West & East German Pottery, Marks & Form numbers Volume II (which contained over 3500 more numbers than the original book). These came out in January 2010.
In November 2010 I released Spritzdecor to Fat Lava II on CD which contained 32 more companies than the original hardback book & CD, and an additional number of designer profiles bringing the total to 48. At the same time, I released the greatly updated West & East German Pottery, Marks, Form Numbers & Decors Volume III which contained over 2800 new form numbers, including a huge section on Art Deco, with the aid of Volker Hornbostel, a collector of pieces from this period. In addition, a new Decors section was added, with pictures of the known decors of Alka Kunst, Bay Keramik, Bückeberg, Carstens Tönnieshof, Ceramano, Conradt (Gebruder), Cortendorf, Dümler & Breiden, Eiwa, ES-Keramik, Fohr Keramik, Ilkra Keramik, Jasba, Jopeko, Keto, Kupfermuhle Keramik (KMK), Marzi & Remy, Ruscha, Scheurich, Schlossberg, Schramberg (SMF), Stutzel Sachs Wächtersbach, etc.
Other additions to this CD included studio marks & porcelain marks sections. This CD covers the period 1900 to 2000, for form numbers. Also inside this CD is information on who designed the famous Hearts motif pieces for Wächtersbach and when.
Also within is the answer to the 5 WGP companies that had LAVA as a known decor. Of course, the work on both the form numbers & decors is ongoing as, since publishing this extensive CD, I have found new catalogues from Carstens Tönnieshof, Ceramano Fohr, Marzi & Remy, Ruscha, Roth & Ü-Keramik - so next year, a Volume/Edition 4 will be issued.
Other publications that I will launch this year are a Ceramano bookalogue to be released for the More Than Fat Lava Mid Century & Modern German Ceramics Exhibition happening in Amsterdam from 18 June 2011 in conjunction with Emiel Monnink from Retrominded. This exhibition will be opened by my friend Mark Hill.
Bauhaus Generated (German Atelier/Töpferei/Studio Pottery) 1920s to 2000 which contains the profiles of leading potters - who trained them, start date, marks etc with over 300 colour photographs. Over 700 potters are identified in this publication.
Studio potters include Antal (Bandi), Heiner (Balzar), Bampi (Richard), Bisang (Liselot) Bomblies (Eva), Bontjes van Beek (Jan), Böttger (Inge), Brügemman (Antje), Busz (Ralf), Crumbiegel (Dieter), Claussen (Michael), Doss (Antje & Rainer), Dudas (Laszlo), Eggemann (Hildegard), Frey (Harro), Gerhards (Walter), Gramman (Siegfrid), Harney (Else), Heuckeroth (Gerda), Hillers (Ulfert), Hohlt (Albrecht & Georg), Hudler (Friedrich), Kagel (Wilhelm), Kerstan (Horst), Kiessling (Albert). Klopfer (Lu), Kuch (Wilhelm & Elly), Kuhn (Beate), Kummer (Thomas), Lang (Anton) Laeuger (Max), Langelot (IB), Liebenthron (Gerhard), Lindig (Otto), Loesche (Ernst), Maetzel (Monica), Meier (Otto), Mühlendyck (Wim), Piesche (Anton), Schäffenacker (Helmut), Scheid (Ursula & Karl), Stahl (Rudi), Stahl (Wendelin), Stehr (Barbara), Uhlemeyer (Richard), Unterstab (Kerstin, Gudrun & Ralf), Weber (Rolf), Wichmann (Otto). The foreword to this publication will be written by Mark Hill.
How did you get into the business?
By accident! In 2001 I found a Fat Lava Bay Keramik piece in a charity shop in Chard, Somerset - I started to collect later. In 2004, after meeting my wife Esther, I moved to North Germany. I found a treasure trove of West & East German pottery. My collection, which up to that point was only 200 pieces, grew rapidly. However, very little was known then about this pottery. I started to catalogue the form numbers and after several discussions with my friend in the USA, Forrest Poston, I decided to write a book. Research on Spritzdecor to Fat Lava & West & East German Pottery Marks & Form Numbers started in 2004. The only book available at that time was 50er Jahre Keramik by Dr Horst Makus, only in German, and didn’t cover most of the items I was interested in. In 2006, a new book came out (only in German), by Dr Michael Thomas entitled Deusche Keramik und Porzellan der 60er und 70er Jahre, which is an excellent book. I still collect today, my WGP/EGP pieces have exceeded 21,000. I know it sounds a lot, but Michael Thomas has nearly 10,000 more!
Who or what inspires you?
This is a difficult one, I have several people who inspire me to write more, these include Mark Hill, Michael Thomas, Cari Zalloni, Stuart Brownrigg, Stuart Gunning, Emiel Monnink to name a few.
What has been your greatest success?
Again, difficult to think of just one thing. Work wise, writing the two original books which actually started life as a single book, but the printer I used was unable to bind such a large book so it became two.
Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the business?
Hmmmmm… make sure your workplace is quiet, has no telephone, make sure you back up your data - every day and make sure your research is sound. I don’t think of writing my books as a business, more of a quest to catalogue the history of WGP. I certainly have not made any money on them, so far, and I know I am not alone. Also, make sure you have a lot of cash in the bank as printing books is expensive!