A klinker vase designed in the 1950s by Heinrich-Maria Müller for SAWA-KERAMIK.  The décor is called Napoli. (Diam. 11 cm.)

SAWA-KERAMIK was the label under which Sawa-Franz Schwaderlapp GmbH produced fine, artisanal, "klinker"-style ceramics beginning in 1951. Franz Schwaderlapp had founded his company as an abrasives factory in Ransbach-Baumbach in central western Germany in 1904, but he soon began producing unglazed flower containers at an associated pottery works. The program had an early success with a self-watering Jardiniere; its extension to high-end ornamental ceramics would happen only with the end of WWII.

Schwaderlapp's uncle, Heinrich-Maria Müller, joined his nephew's firm in 1951 as head designer in its newly established art department. He was responsible for the design of all forms and decorations at SAWA until he retired from the company in 1965. Many of the pots that were produced during this period were hand-turned and decorated by Müller himself.

SAWA offered three basic décor varieties, often noted with a single letter on the bottom of the object:

  • 'K' for kerbschnitt (notch-cut): the manual application of grooves in unbaked clay,
  • 'P' for plastischer kerbschnitt (plastic notch-cut): the application of cut-in designs using figural stamps, and
  • 'S' for sigilata (sealed): the application and burnishing, to a very high sheen, of a thin layer of slip as a top coat.

Often these methods were very labor-intensive and expensive to implement. The quality of execution was notably high.

It can be noted here that klinker pottery takes its name from a particular sort of partially-vitrified brick, commonly referred to as “klinker” or “clinker,”—so-called because of the metallic sound produced when klinker bricks are struck together. Like its namesake brick, klinker pottery is hard-fired at unusually high temperatures. Typically hand-thrown, it is also often decorated or burnished by hand—and only partially colored, if at all, using special dyes. These production methods tend to make klinker items very water-resistant, and in most cases, waterproof, even without interior glazing. (Incidentally, being denser than normal bricks, klinkers provide relatively poor insulation. On the other hand, their hard surfaces make them frost-resistant, so they are well-suited for use in facades and as pavers. Early klinkers were simply the accidental byproducts of brickmaking.)

Sawa-Franz Schwaderlapp GmbH was family-owned until 1992. It appears to have been transferred to another owner of the same name, as one Heinrich Schwaderlapp was appointed liquidator of the company in 2000. It went out of business in 2004.

HEINRICH-MARIA MÜLLER (1892-1974) engaged in multiple professions before WWII, trying his hands at various artistic endeavors and even going to sea for a time. Shortly after the war, he took up work as a furniture salesman, but, in 1951, he settled at his nephew's firm, Sawa-Franz Schwaderlapp GmbH in Ransbach-Baumbach in central western Germany. There he was made head designer of the newly established art ceramics department, producing decorative pottery for the home under the name SAWA-KERAMIK. Müller designed all shapes and décors, modeled templates, and executed numerous pieces entirely by himself. Despite a wide variety of decorative influences, which were generally characterized by elaborate and carefully executed designs and ranged from animal representations of the Far East to abstract surface ornament, he managed to give all of his work a characteristic appearance. He ultimately retired from the company in 1965 at the age of 73, He died nine years later in 1974.



Production Period/Year – 1950s


Design Period/Year – 1950s



Materials – CERAMIC


Condition – Excellent vintage condition. Minor wear consistent with age and use.

Dimensions – 4 ¼" DIAM. × 5 ½" H

Quantity Available – 1