Wemyss Ware

Wemyss Ware

Rare Wemyss Pottery for Sale at Carse Antiques

 

One of the most iconic and sought after lines of Scottish pottery, Wemyss Ware is characterised by its traditional kiln techniques and under glazing. The natural world inspires most Wemyss Ware designs. The pottery is highly collectable and can count Elton John, the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II amongst its fans.

All of our antiques for sale have been thoroughly checked for quality and originality by Andrew Stephens, our antique dealer. We deal in only the most impressive and exciting pieces; sometimes well-loved, other times pristine. We hope something catches your eye here and you enjoy browsing our wonderful collection.

 

The history of Wemyss Ware

 

The pottery has gone through multiple phases of production and uses. Its roots are in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1882. It was produced in the Fife pottery as a collaboration between Karel Nekola, a talented head decorator, and Robert Heron, the pottery owner. 

Nekola was gifted in everything design, and his eye for detail and talent for hand decoration became the beating heart of their pottery line. His unconfined and vivid painting techniques were a fundamental feature of the pieces and soon caught many people’s eyes.

Wemyss (pronounced ‘weems’) was a name given to the new pottery style in honour of the Wemyss family who lived in Wemyss castle. They were keenly supportive of the new style and acted as patrons.

 

Move to Devon and the revival

Wemyss Ware grew in popularity for four decades until it eventually fell out of fashion, favouring newer pottery styles. The Kirkcaldy Pottery closed in 1932, and Joseph Nekola (Karel Nekola’s son) moved production down to the Bovey Pottery in Devon. He continued to produce Wemyss Ware, but on a much smaller scale. 

Before his death in 1952, he taught his apprentice Esther Weeks the craft of Wemyss Ware, and she was to become head designer until the Bovey Pottery closed in 1957. This halted production, and there was no Wemyss Pottery made in the 70s and 80s.

In 1985, the style was revived back in its original home in Scotland. Griselda Hill, who had recently moved to Fife, was inspired by the memory of her grandmother’s Wemyss pig. Once she realised that Fife was, in fact, the birthplace of the style, she decided to begin producing it again.

Her first product was a pottery cat modelled on an existing Wemyss cat in the Kirkcaldy museum. Griselda Hill’s Wemyss pottery is always of the highest quality and still hand-painted to the standard of the originals. Hill’s Pottery is located in Ceres, Fife, and is equipped with a visitor’s centre and shop.

Esther Weeks has since been linked with Griselda Hill Pottery, and over the years, has frequently visited to impart her design wisdom to Hill and the other painters. She has donated many paintbrushes to the pottery, including some originals owned by Karel and Joseph Nekola.

 

How do they make Wemyss Ware?

 

The original practice differs from the modern techniques. Initially, the pottery would be moulded then fired at a low temperature. This produced a porous biscuit body that allowed painting. After applying the colours, the pottery was then glazed using a lead ceramic glaze, a technique known as under glazing. 

The pottery was then fired again at the same temperature, which preserved the fantastic colour. This produced a soft and fragile product that was very easy to break. This is why original Wemyss pottery is so rare.

Today, Griselda Hill Pottery uses a different technique, so their modern pieces are much more robust. There are a few features that clearly distinguish a piece of Wemyss Ware.

  • Commonly decorated with floral designs; cabbage roses, honeysuckle, buttercups, carnations etc.
  • Decorated with fruits such as cherries, plums, or apples. Rare fig designs can sometimes be found
  • Ceramic animals, most famously cats or pigs
  • Small functional items, such as honey pots or soap dishes
  • Colourful vases
  • Vibrant painting style
  • Unusually shaped pieces

 

Fall in love with Wemyss Ware at Carse Antiques

We have a small but charming collection of Wemyss Ware at Carse Antiques, including some very rare pieces from the original era. If you have any questions about our collection, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be pleased to discuss what we can offer to you.

If you’re local to the Perthshire area, we’d love to welcome you to our premises at The Rait Antique centre. If you’d like to see one of our Wemyss pieces in person, just come and visit us, and we’d be happy to accommodate you.
 

Please find below a selection of Scottish high-quality Wemyss Ware available online at Carse Antiques.

All items can be ordered and paid for directly from the website using the secure payment system for payment with Paypal. We can also accept payments over the phone using all major credit cards including Amex on 01821 670770. We can also take payments by Bank Transfer, details are on the order form.

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