Susan S. Frackelton (1848-1932) of Milwaukee began
her artistic career as a landscape and china painter,
like many women artists in the late 1800s. But for
Frackelton, this was just the beginning. She soon
became a major contributor to the arts in America
as a businesswoman, inventor, author, and artist.
She transformed her love of decorating china into
a prolific business and began throwing her own pieces.
Frackelton eventually developed her own style of
art pottery featuring distinctive blue and gray designs
A Woman of Many Talents
Susan Frackelton began decorating ceramics in the
1870s as she worked in her family's crockery import
business. She became well known for her 1885 instructional
manual for china painting, Tried by Fire.
A year later she patented a special kiln designed
for use in the home. Frackelton's own pieces,
exhibited throughout the United States and internationally,
received numerous awards and accolades.
Later, she started to throw her own pottery and
experimented with salt glazes, coatings produced
by throwing table salt into the hot kiln. At the
1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Frackelton
earned several medals for her salt glaze stoneware.
Frackelton Blue and Grey
By 1894 Frackelton had shifted away from the painting
and glazing of manufactured ceramics and had begun
to create "art pottery," ornamental pottery
conceived and fabricated as works of art. She experimented
with a variety of forms, decorations, techniques, and
motifs and threw many, but not all, of her pieces herself.
She specialized in gray glazes and painted blue designs
under the glaze, a style that became known as "Frackelton
Blue and Grey." Her notoriety continued to grow
at international expositions, most notably in Paris
(1900) and Buffalo (1901). Frackelton's greatest
contribution in art pottery was her diverse, almost
experimental, painted and applied exterior treatments,
which incorporated a number of naturalistic and geometric
in her ceramics career, Frackelton primarily
decorated imported china pieces with paints,
using a variety of motifs on porcelain blanks.
Click here to view Frackelton's decorated china.
Frackelton was throwing and decorating her
own art pottery. She specialiazed in gray glazes
with painted and applied blue designs, and
also experimented with salt glazes. Click here
to view the largest single collection of Frackelton's
art pottery pieces.
Additional Fracketon items include medals won for her pottery and dye pigments that were manufactured as part of her business.