A beautiful hand-turned klinker vase by Heinrich-Maria Müller for Sawa Keramik. The exterior was darkly stained prior to firing, and a vine-and-leaf decoration was sculpted in relief (woodcut style), dimpling the red-clay undersurface in the process. Standing 12 inches tall. "230/30P Handarbeit XIV" is inscribed on the base.

SAWA KERAMIK had its origins in the founding of Franz Schwaderlapp GmbH in 1904 in the municipality of Ransbach-Baumbach in the Westerwald region of western Germany. Established as an abrasives factory, the separate production of unglazed flowerpots soon began at an associated pottery. (A self-watering jardinière was a successful early product.) With the end of WWII, the program was extended to include ornamental ceramics. The manufacture of artisanal, klinker-style items commenced in 1951, under the banner of SAWA KERAMIK—and under the direction of its head designer, Schwaderlapp's uncle Heinrich-Maria Müller. Müller would remain responsible for the design of both forms and decorations until he retired from the company in 1965. Many of the pots produced during his tenure were turned and finished by Müller himself.

Three basic décor varieties are noted with a single letter on the bottom of many SAWA KERAMIK objects: a ‘K’ (for Kerbschnitt or "chip carving") designates the manual application of sgrafitto grooves in unbaked clay; a ‘P’ (for Plastischer Kerbschnitt, "molded" chip carving), the application of cut-in designs using figural stamps; and an ‘S’ (for sigillata), the laying on a thin top coat of slip and its subsequent burnishing to a very high sheen. These methods were usually labor-intensive and thus quite costly.

It should be noted here that klinker ceramics are produced using clays and methods otherwise employed in the manufacture of a particular sort of partially-vitrified brick, commonly referred to as "klinker"—so called for the metallic sound the finished bricks make when struck together. Like the namesake brick, klinker pottery is hard fired at very high temperatures. In addition to being hand-thrown, it's also usually polished and decorated by hand, and typically only partially colored (if at all) using special dyes. The production method tends to make klinker vessels very water-resistant—in most cases, waterproof—even without interior glazing. (Incidentally, being dense and less porous than normal bricks, "klinkers" provide relatively poor insulation. On the other hand, their very hard surfaces make them frost-resistant, so they are well-suited for use in facades and as pavers.)

SAWA KERAMIK was family-owned until 1992. It may have then transferred to another bearer of the original founder's name at that time—not improbable among the branching families associated with pottery-making in the Westerwald. In any case, one Heinrich Schwaderlapp was appointed to liquidate the company in 2000. Franz Schwaderlapp GmbH ceased to exist in 2004.

HEINRICH-MARIA MÜLLER (1892-1974) tried his hand at numerous professions prior to WWII, including various artistic endeavors, before finding work as a furniture salesman shortly after the war. He joined his nephew Franz Schwaderlapp's eponymous firm in 1951 as head designer in the newly established Art Ceramics department, which produced decorative pottery for the home under the name SAWA KERAMIK. He designed all of the shapes and décors and modeled all of the templates, additionally producing numerous pieces entirely by himself. Despite the wide variety of his influences, all of Müller's decorations—ranging from animal representations inspired by the Far East to abstract surface ornamentations—were characterized by elaborate and careful execution and marked by an inimitable style. He ultimately retired from the company in 1965 at the age of 73 and died nine years later in 1974.


Maker – Sawa Keramik

Production Period – 1950s

Designer – Heinrich-Maria Müller (1892-1974)

Design Period – 1950s

Origin – West Germany

Styles/Movements – Modernist

Materials – Ceramic

Colors – Terracotta, ebony

Condition – Excellent vintage condition.

Dimensions – 8" Diam. × 12" H

Quantity Available – 1