A large Ruscha Keramik pitcher-style vase designed by Kurt Tschorner and decorated in the highly successful 'Vulcano' decor by Otto Gerhatz.

RUSCHA KERAMIK was launched in 1948 when Rudolf Schardt assumed the management of Klein & Schardt, his father Georg's ceramics factory in the town of Rheinbach, located near Bonn in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. (RUSCHA is a syllabic abbreviation of his name.) The timing of the re-founding ensured that the company was in a good position to benefit from Germany's post-war growth boom. RUSCHA KERAMIK became a leading manufacturer during the "golden age" of Western German ceramics and is credited with some of the era's key developments. It produced some very successful and innovative forms and glazes, including the 'Vulcano' décor (Otto Gerharz, 1951)—which heralded the move towards thick, dripping fat-lava glazes—and the iconic no. 313 (Kurt Tschörner, 1954), probably the period's most famous shape. Hanns Welling, Adele Bolz, Heinz Siery, and Cilli Wörsdörfer were among other notable designers to work for RUSCHA.

RUSCHA KERAMIK was celebrated for exquisite wall plates, plaques, and tiles—manufactured for both indoor and outdoor applications—as well as its high-quality vases. Specimens from the 1970s will frequently exhibit remarkable lava and volcanic glazes. When RUSCHA closed its factory in 1996, Scheurich acquired many of its designs and molds; distinctive silver RUSCHA labels were sometimes applied to the subsequent production.

Notes on identification: White clay was used practically exclusively. The rare examples made with red-brown clay are thought to date from periods when normal supply sources ran out. Embossed and incised base-numbering was used for vessels. If a vase was made in more than one size, a single digit indicating relative size followed the form number. Low form numbers (< 100) were sometimes preceded by a letter. Like a few other manufacturers, RUSCHA KERAMIK occasionally recycled form numbers, a cause of distress for some collectors. Pieces were never molded with "Germany" or "West Germany."

In rare instances, bases were hand-inscribed—less often, painted—with the name RUSCHA and a décor name (these tend to be earlier 1950s items). Where stickers are found, they always read "Ruscha Art." Many items were not stickered. Sometimes a retailer's label was applied.

OTTO GERHARZ (1927-?) was a chemist and glaze master who began his training as a ceramicist in 1942 with a focus on arts and crafts, but his apprenticeship was interrupted in 1944 when he was drafted into military service. By 1946 he had emerged from the military with his interest in ceramics intact, but a shift in focus from the art and craft of pottery making to an obsessive interest in glaze chemistry, so he began attending classes at the technical school at Höhr-Grenzhausen which had just reopened after the war. In his time at Höhr-Grenzhausen, he was able to complete his technical training and emerge with a degree in chemical engineering. He graduated two years later as a ceramic engineer, having written his thesis on ceramic glazes. Gerharz continued his education with complementary studies in electro-ceramics, followed by laboratory and consultancy work in the industry.

In 1951 Otto Gerharz went to work at Ruscha Keramik in Rheinbach as their operations manager and lead ceramist. It was at Ruscha that he would develop a wide range of glazes, thereby playing a decisive role in the emergence of the company as one of the most important in the field of artistically designed ceramics. 

Gerharz retired from Ruscha in 1964 to set up a workshop at his home where he would continue his own independent research into glaze chemistry. One of Ruscha's best form designers, Kurt Tschörner, would soon follow him and help to form the eponymously named 'Otto-Keramik' by 1970. At “Otto”, which never employed more than 20 craftspeople at a time, everything was hand-made, and Gerharz was responsible for most of the glazing. His son (also named Otto) took over the workshop in 1994.

KURT TSCHÖRNER is probably best known for the ceramic forms he designed for RUSCHAh un

Very Good Condition, Original Condition Unaltered, No Imperfections
Condition Notes
Excellent Vintage Condition
Quantity Available – 1