Ohio River Pottery: Shadows by John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith & Taylor

The ink was barely dry on his master’s thesis when John Gilkes accepted the position of Lead Designer for the Taylor, Smith Taylor Pottery. Gilkes, under the tutelage of Arthur E. Baggs, the renown potter and professor of ceramics at Ohio State University, researched production techniques for new dinnerware shapes. Innovation was paramount to the potteries that had enjoyed success along the banks of the Ohio River. Especially in light of the heightened competition from the Asian marketplaces and the new attraction of plastics to homemakers.

Shadows by John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith, Taylor (ca. 1955)

Shadows by John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith, Taylor (ca. 1955)

Shadows is just one of the designs by John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith & Taylor. And it was truly innovative. It features a embossed extended rim that also serves as a lug handle for the bowls. The first time that I saw the design, I pondered how the design was accomplished. It looks like a three dimensional photograph. Shirley Howard wrote in the Crockery and Glass Journal (1955):

A new departure in dinnerware decoration – “sculptured” dinnerware that combines both an embossing and a debossing process – is very successful for Taylor, Smith & Taylor.

Yet, this line of dinnerware did not enjoy the popularity of other lines introduced by Taylor Smith Taylor. Even though it was produced in two of the most popular colors of the mid-1950s – pink and gray.

Shadows, Creamer and Sugar Bowl by John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith, Taylor

Shadows, Creamer and Sugar Bowl by John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith, Taylor

Collectors take note – we do have a few pieces from this rare line in pink. And yes, ours are marked, 1955 – the year that they were introduced.

Shadows, Oval Bowl with Lug Handle, John Wilkes for Taylor, Smith and Taylor

Shadows, Oval Bowl with Lug Handle, John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith and Taylor