Architectural Pottery


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P.O. Box 1058

El Dorado, CA 95623


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Gladding, McBean, the pre-eminent producer of decorative terra cotta from 1890 to 1930, produced architectural splendors from the neo-classic motifs of the earliest San Francisco landmarks  to the ornate Art Deco movie palaces from Hollywood to every major city in the far West.

Terra cotta,  the favored medium of architects and designers through the early decades of the twentieth century literally shaped the American cityscape.

From the modest beginnings in Lincoln California, the three men from Chicago and their team of artisans worked closely with renown designers and architects creating a fantastic array of mythological figures, beasts, gargoyles, cherubs, scrolls, and cartouches that adorned landmark Pacific Coast buildings.

During the 1930s terra cotta gave way to cost-effective, mass produced sheets of steel, glass and concrete in commercial architecture. "Terra cotta manufacture was too labor-intensive and consequently too expensive to remain in widespread use. It required hand finishing, time for proper drying and firing, care in shipping and installation. Where twenty-four terra cotta companies flourished during the 1920s, only seven remained in operation by 1947.

These survivors tried to adapt terra cotta to the changing demands of the building industry, but most failed and went out of business. Gladding, McBean survived the 1950s and 60s by offering a diversity of utilitarian products, massive volumes of sewer pipe and roof tiles, occasionally taking on terra cotta architectural projects which were largely funded by governmental agencies.

Over the past several decades the company has gained global recognition for its expertise in historical  preservation and restoration projects. A renewed interest in architectural heritage combined with the reintroduction of color, surface pattern and texture, and ornamentation into today's architecture has given rise to terra cotta's growing resurgence.

Gallery El Dorado is pleased to be a regional purveyor of the very limited production of Gladding McBean architectural garden art. The gallery offers over 50 pieces of clay works to include oil jars, planters and vases, urns and pedestals, tables and benches, birdbaths, fountains and ornamental pieces in a variety of glazes.

Each piece is a hand-crafted example of materials, form and techniques that were used more than a century ago. Vintage pieces, which are not available for purchase, are available for viewing.

Nelson Passas has made a fine  series of photographs of the artisans' work in progress as well as the Gladding, McBean plant in Lincoln, California. 


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All artwork displayed on this website is property of the respective artists and copyrighted. Any reproduction without their consent is prohibited.