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Friday, 26 October 2012


In Annecy, sometime during the 50s, Charles Cart, who, it is rumored, started life as a scrap merchant, chose to reinvent himself as a potter. He started, in very unconventional fashion, by asking chemists to teach him how to 'spoil' glazes.

In 1961 Cart registered his pottery under the name 'La Poterie d'Annecy' and, two years later, as 'Le Cyclope, émaux des glaciers, émaux des neiges'. 

1963 is, therefore, the earliest date when it can be established that lava glazes were made by Le Cyclope in Annecy; four years before 'Capri', the earliest documented lava glaze made by  Marei , in an ad dated 1967.

After various experiments, Cart developed a small range of characteristic 'lava' glazes: in blue, honey yellow, green and red, which he applied on low fired, hand-thrown earthenwares pots (made with a brittle, flower pot-type clay); mostlty hand-thrown in the studio by an assistant/s, or bought-in as blanks (usually cooking pots and other domestic wares):

An ornamental soup terrine surrounded by pichers, a 'cruche' (traditional water jug, on thr right), a sauce boat and two vases. The two yellow vases on the left were yhe only item thrown in house; the others were bought in as blanks.

The works produced by 'Le Cyclope' are of two kinds:

1. Original hand-thrown forms, made in the workshop by an assistant. 

One signature vase, produced in different sizes and glazes, was hand-thrown in the shape of a flower pot, then pressed and pinched on either sides (from base to neck), to produce a more dynamic form.  

Vase. c. 1960. Earthenware. Hand-thrown and shaped. Decorated with 'Emaux des Glaciers'.*

Glaze caracteristics:
Upon close examination, one notices how, when reaching a certain temperature the glaze layers contracted and bubbled, producing craters which reveal the white and black layers underneath.

Cart's own designs tended to be hand-thrown, then reshaped to deviate from conventional vases.                                           

2. Bought-in blanks of traditional domestic cooking pots, pichers, jugs, bowls, etc.
(see group photo above)

Both kinds were decorated with Cart's idiosyncratic  lava glazes; with various melting/dripping and crater effects.

FRAGILE: The down side about these works is that the clay tends to chip easily. It is fortunate that the pots were not intended to be frequently handled or washed; for many have survived with chips or cracks.

[Warning: Collectors do check the base rim and lip for chips. Originally hand-painted with a matt black pigment, they can easily conceal chips or repairs].

Cart 's outlandish glazes can make some German 'fat lava' look tame in comparison:

Close up view of a  serving dish

The contrast between the design of the large traditional soup terrine and the  outlandish 'émaux des glaciers' lava glaze confer upon the work a post-modern feel; accentuated by the large size of the object:

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The overall conventional range of forms used by Cart, suggests that the works were destined for a popular marketThe contrast between traditional form and iconoclastic glaze seems to have appealed to a wide public not necessarily au fait with 'modern art'.

Among the in-house, hand-thrown  vases, this free form vase (illustrated below) was decorated in the less common 'Terre de feu' glaze:

Cart identified his work with a paper label incorporating 'Cyclope. Annecy' 'fait main' and the type of glaze used: 'Emaux des Glaciers. Émaux des Neige'; 'Emaux des Garrigues'; 'Emaux Terre de Feu', etc.
Even when the label is missing, Cart's glazes are unmistakable.

Cyclope ceramics were widely sold outside Annecy and the region. Cart, thus, used different paper labels suggesting they had been made in the location where they were sold. One label reads 'écume de mer', to capitalize on the popularity of the Vallauris glaze of that name!
The label 'Émaux des Pyrénées. Fait Main. M. Déposé' on a picher decorated with a characteristic 'Emaux des Garrigues' glaze, bought near Perpignan, was either added by Cart — or by the shop owner — to help his ware sell to tourists visiting Pyrénées Orientales, who wished to take home a 'souvenir' from the region.

(to be continued)


  1. Great Blog,but i was missing BKW Pottery and i think Wendelin Stahl is not the brother of Rudi,but it is his father,thats are my information :-)


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