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Jean McClelland: Antiques show to showcase Pillin Pottery

August 12, 2018

Courtesy of PBS.com Pillin Pottery is often recognizable by it elongated shapes with decorative women and horses as her artistic subjects. These pieces are from 1970s.

You know it’s late summer heading into fall when word gets around that the Pilot Club Antiques Show is on the horizon. For the 66th year, they will be presenting their show next weekend. Starting Friday evening Aug. 17 at the Big Sandy Conference Center on 3rd Avenue and going through Sunday, Aug. 19, until 4 p.m.

Besides out-of-towners, there will be a representation from our own 14th Street West antique district. Admission is $6 per person.

It looks to be a great show again this year. One of the many items that will be showcased is Pillin Pottery.

Pillin Pottery was created by Polia and William Pillin through the mid 1900s. William would often be the potter and Polia painted the pieces with her own unique style. Both were trained in Chicago in the early 1940s and tried to sell their wares in the windy city for a time. They headed west, first to New Mexico for a few years, and then finally settling in Los Angeles.

Both Pillans were immigrants from Eastern Europe, she was from Poland and he hailed from the Ukraine. The pottery itself is quite plain and often chunky in shape however its Polia’s paint that gives the pottery its unique Picasso-esque look. It is her concentration on elongated forms that makes her work so recognizable in the world of art pottery.

Jerry Cline, prominent collector and writer will be at the Pilot Club Antique Show displaying some of this unusual pottery. Cline’s book presently being sold on Amazon could be a catalog of Polia Pillin’s work due to the number of photos of her pieces he has included. The book primarily covers her most productive period from 1940 through the 1980s. Though she mostly concentrated on women and horses as her artistic subjects she did have works featuring men, children, circus performers, flowers birds, fish and more.

William Pillin didn’t do any decoration of the pottery but did experiment with glazes and produced some pottery on his own. Polia’s was a self-taught artist who also played with glaze techniques to achieve her desired results. Her work will be marked with a scrolled Pillin signature. There are a range of prices for the Pillin pottery but the stronger prices rely on the depth of color on a piece. Prices offer a span from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. Check out the Antique show and look for the Pillin Pottery - it is unique.

Jean McClelland writes about antiques and collectibles for The Herald-Dispatch.

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