Cliff, Clarice. The life story of English potter and designer Clarice Cliff, (1899-1972) is a real-life rags-to riches story. Clarice was born in the potteries area in Tunstall, Staffordshire in 1899, and her father was an iron moulder, while her mother took in washing.
She attended school until age 13 and then left to work in a lowly paid job in the potteries. At that time the potteries were the major employers of women in the North Staffordshire and at the time she commenced work there were over 20,000 women employed.
The jobs for women ranged from being assistants to the men who threw the pots, to the less menial but repetitive task of painting prescribed designs onto clay blanks.
After 10 years, and a several of changes of employer, she had learned a number of trades and mastered the techniques of gilding, enamelling, lithography and design.
At the age of 17 Clarice Cliff was working for the Royal Staffordshire Pottery owned by A J Wilkinson owned by the Shorter family. and at this time the firm's pattern books begin to credit her as the designer of some of the items illustrated in the books. more...