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Exciting new Beach info photos now added

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Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Maryr on Mon 22 Jun - 8:48

In the weekend Ev and I did a flying trip to meet with the Beach (Artware) family - Eva, who is Peter Beach's widow, and their daughter Sharon. Both live in the Bay of Plenty. We spent several hours with them so I have a bit of transcribing to do.... but they gave us some invaluable information.

Where to start? (Ev you will have things to add - and possibly correct!) on this post.

Peter was working for Crown Lynn as a glaze chemist in the very early 1970s. He had very bad arthritis in his hands and feet and could not wear closed toe shoes. He was regretfully asked to leave for health and safety reasons. Then he and Eva set up a small workshop in the basement of their house and began making slipcast lamp bases for a NZ chain store. (they couldn't remember which one.) Dan Steenstra designed the lamp bases - he had joined them from Crown Lynn. As soon as she could, their daughter Sharon left school and also joined the workshop. She became a skilled thrower in her own right, and also learned all other aspects of the pottery trade. The lamp bases were a great success and before long they developed an orange glaze and began making kitchen containers. These sold like hot cakes and within a year or so they moved to a factory at Rabone St in Henderson. They couldn't keep up with demand - Eva got into trouble for going down to the workshop and unpacking the kiln when the ware was still so hot the boxes started smouldering!
They sold throughout NZ and also in Australia, lots of orange but also other glazes. Some of the ware is hand thrown and some cast. Some slipcast ware is marked 'Traditional' or 'Beach Artware'. Other colours include brown and the lovely midnight blue with gold sparkles. Demand was huge, their factory expanded and the business prospered. Dan was the head potter, and all the other Beach hand-throwers tried to emulate him. He was extremely fast and accurate.

Sadly, Peter's arthritis got worse and within five years he had passed away. Eva had to sell the business - to Don McKenzie - and many of the existing staff left during the transition period. Sharon went to Parker Potteries so she was able to help us with info about them as well. (this explains the similarities in shape between some Beach and Parker ware.)

After Don McKenzie took over Beach Artware the business was re-named Kiln Craft then later Clay Craft. (as documented elsewhere on this site.)

Below I have posted some examples of work that Sharon and Eva showed us.

Importantly, the shiny green and brown ware which has some of the characteristics of Beach is most likely done by Eva's step-brother Peter Lowry. Peter worked at Beach for a time and picked up many of the techniques, so there are similarities, eg the koru whorl inside the lid. So I have some editing to do - to separate out those pics in my posts!

Peter Beach (courtesy Beach family)

Sharon's Beach Artware kitchen jars. None of these are marked.

This one is slipcast, the others above are hand thrown.

Beach Artware by Daniel Steenstra spice jar and small incense jar. Note the lovely whorls on the inside of the spice jar lid.


Last edited by Maryr on Tue 23 Jun - 9:47; edited 5 times in total
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Ev on Mon 22 Jun - 9:04

Brilliant Val !
I just want to add that when Don McKenzie bought the Beach Artware business he had no knowledge about pottery and yet he 'got rid of' all of the potters who did. He put glazes on too thick and they would run off the pots onto the shelves and Sharon could tell which pieces had been glazed by Kiln Craft because of this. He even took Eva to court for selling him an unsuccessful business, but she won as it had been hugely successful when the Beach family ran it.
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Maryr on Mon 22 Jun - 9:33

I also want to thank Jeremy - he found the reference to Steve Fullmer, now a Nelson studio potter, who used to work at Beach. It was through Steve that we found the Beach family. Thanks Jeremy!
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Ev on Mon 22 Jun - 13:17

This thread has been added as a 'Sticky' and will stay at the top of the Beach category.

Sharon told us that the dull/matt orange is the Uranium Beach glaze and the bright shiney orange is the glaze that had lead in it which they had to use when they couldn't get hold of any uranium.

Another point of interest was that Paul Beach didn't work in the pottery, but Peter Lowry, Eva's step brother did and they thought that the P mark could be his.

Dan Steenstra didn't use the 'chattering' technique to decorate his pots. He used a cotton reel that had notches cut into it that he would roll around the pot to make the bumpy pattern. Sharon said that they all used Dan's technique to decorate.
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Maryr on Mon 22 Jun - 13:55

More on identifying Beach Artware: Some of this is repeated from previous posts but I wanted to be clear.

Previously on this site I assumed that the shiny green and brown ware which shares many of the characteristics of Beach hand potted belonged in the Beach stable. It doesn't! And as a result Ev has had to do a huge sort-out of our postings - sorry Ev!

Sharon and Eva both said that the green and brown ware was most likely made by Eva's stepbrother Peter Lowry, who worked at Beach for a time. The piped words on the kitchen containers - eg 'tea' and 'coffee' are NOT a Beach characteristic.

So for example the ware on this link is not Beach. http://www.newzealandpottery.net/t6527-peter-lowry-from-jeremy?highlight=lowry

Because Peter Lowry worked at Beach, he had access to glaze recipes, sources of clay, and techniques such as the koru whorl on the inside of jar lids. Sharon and Eva believe he may have used that information when he set up his own pottery. One proviso - we have yet to talk to Peter Lowry or anyone who worked with him to confirm the above. Eva lost contact with him, but believes he is somewhere in Australia.

The good news is that it seems that only Beach made the orange glaze, so all the orange ware, shiny and matt finish, was made at Beach Artware. (There is the odd orange item which is not Beach, but they are very few and far between, origins uncertain.) We can be confident that orange items topped with that white-based shiny glaze are Beach. There are also heaps of other Beach colours including brown and the starry sky deep blue with gold flecks.

The Beach family sometimes used metal letters to imprint marks into their hand thrown work. So the mark 'DS' is indeed Daniel Steenstra when he was working at Beach. Slipcast ware was often marked as 'TRADITIONAL' or "BEACH ARTWARE'. Beach Artware had 'Traditional Potteries' on its letterhead.

That's all for now.
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Ev on Mon 22 Jun - 15:15

Sharon said that many potters came and went when they were in business, but she could quickly tell if Danny had made a piece and her and her Mum's face would radiate when they knew it was his work. This was for several reasons - lightness, no throwing rings on the outside, he always compressed the inside base with a tool to strengthen it from S cracks so there were never any throwing rings on the inside base. They all tried to copy his style and shapes so that there was some likeness for the people purchasing, however they could never achieve Dan's perfectness!
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Orange pottery, a warning.

Post  Jeremy Ashford on Mon 22 Jun - 17:04

Orange seekers beware!

There is a how-to web page that instructs in, among many other things, how to create the same orange and froth effect of the Beach ware of the 1970s.

I don't speak glaze so I could not really understand it.

There was no specific reference to Beach there.

If I find it again I will link it.

So, all that glisters may not be a Beach gold.

Brilliant work Val and Ev. Thank you so much for this.
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Maryr on Tue 23 Jun - 9:57

I hope you can find that site again Jeremy.
Sharon was - understandably - very protective of her family's glaze recipes. However she did say that some ingredients are now unavailable in NZ due to toxicity. Note that almost without exception the orange glaze is never on the inside of kitchenware, it wasn't allowed to touch food as the lead can leach out under some conditions. That aside, Sharon said she used to smoke as she applied glazes - ergh!

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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Jeremy Ashford on Tue 23 Jun - 13:46

"Mug by Larry Coffey with Nuka glaze over PTM"

Scroll down this page, Val:

http://opopots.blogspot.co.nz/p/high-fired-glazes-faq.html
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Maryr on Wed 24 Jun - 8:34

Thank you Jeremy. I don't speak glaze either so I hope Ev or another of our potters has a chance to look at your link. The PTM (Orange) glaze this person talks about appears to have iron rather than uranium or lead, but agreed it looks very similar to Beach.
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Ev on Wed 24 Jun - 9:03

This glaze is an iron induced orange, well done for figuring that out Val. This PTM glaze is fired to stoneware temperatures so won't get the same vibrant orange as the low temperature uranium or lead, instead the orange will be muted and duller with no zing as it is caused by the iron oxidising. Uranium is unavailable now and potter's don't like using lead anymore because of the dangers. There is a commercial low temp orange and a red and a yellow, which have selenium and cadmium in them and are very poisonous. Len Castle used the cadmium on his Lava pot artworks and there are others that use them, but just on artworks.
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Maryr on Wed 24 Jun - 15:55

Ta for that info Ev. Ahem lovely pic of lovely orange pots on the front of the site...
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Ev on Wed 24 Jun - 18:18

Maryr wrote:Ahem lovely pic of lovely orange pots on the front of the site...

Indeed and thank you as they represent Beach Artware perfectly Smile
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Ev on Thu 25 Jun - 13:09

Exciting news from Sharon as she said that only Danny [Steenstra] made the baby salt and peppers and the little bud vases as nobody else wanted to make them. Yay that means I have more of his work cheers
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  mike67 on Sun 28 Jun - 11:46

Not sure if I have posted a pic of this little potpourri jar. 80 mm high and with hole around the base as well as in the lid. Beach glaze. Similar but not the same as those already posted. Great info on the Beach or not Beach!!!
Green with script not, darker yellow and brown with the chattering type decoration not but are there any thoughts on the brighter yellow and brown ware?
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Ev on Sun 28 Jun - 12:18

That is a sweetie Mike and Sharon and Eva called these pots Incense burners. I would say that the incense cones would have been used in them and they were very popular in the 1970's. I am assuming that it is a small pot ....
You asked about the bright yellow and brown ware and of the ones shown to Sharon and Eva the glaze was recognised as Beach, but the pieces were too heavy to be Beach, so we don't have a nod yet, but there should be some around.
Reg Matthews worked at Beach and now works for Bob Steiner, so he will have to be visited to get his thoughts too one of these days.


Last edited by Ev on Sun 5 Jul - 14:19; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Maryr on Sun 5 Jul - 14:11

Mike are you able to give me a link to the sorts of ware you are thinking of?
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Re: Exciting new Beach info photos now added

Post  Maryr on Thu 9 Jul - 15:34

I sent this link to Ernie Cooper, who worked alongside Peter Beach at CL in the 1960s, and below is his response:

Hi Val, thank you very much for this it brings back a lot of memories. On my return from England with a ceramics degree I clearly remember working with Peter in the glaze laboratory and I know exactly where the uranium glaze formulation came from. We were looking for new and interesting glaze effects and decoration techniques for Crown Lynn and we were researching all the various literature (no Internet then!). I had brought quite a lot of books on ceramics with me from UK and one of these books, a German publication as I recall, contained a lot of glaze recipes including the uranium orange. Peter and I worked on this and even developed some new Frits (glaze ingredients which have been pre-melted) at his home in Blockhouse Bay. The uranium glaze was never used at Crown Lynn but it wasn't long after this that Peter left his employment at Crown Lynn and began the Beach Artware pottery. I remember having a conversation with Peter after he had left Crown Lynn where he told me he was having difficulty importing the larger quantities of uranium oxide he now needed, New Zealand Customs were more than suspicious about these imports!
I also know the story of Don McKenzie extremely well as he employ the services of Furnace Engineering (John Homer, a relation of Tom Clark, & John Ortgesien, sadly now all deceased) and myself to improve his firing capacity and to fix his technical problems.
The photos of a younger Peter Beech are also interesting he had an interesting life from driving logging trucks to pottery manufacturing. cheers Ernie Cooper


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