Casting a Spell: Ceramics by Daisy Makeig-Jones

Interior view of a colorful, iridescent lusterware bowl featuring gold cloisonne and an ornamental Art Nouveau design. At the center, a light-skinned mermaid bathes in the ocean. Radiating outward, and repeated five times, is a lush agrarian scene.
May 01 to Aug 16, 2015

Casting a Spell: Ceramics by Daisy Makeig-Jones on view May 1–August 16, 2015.

Employed at the Wedgwood pottery company from 1909 to 1931, Daisy Makeig-Jones (1881–1945) melded her vivid imagination and technical ingenuity to develop decorative china called Fairyland Lusterware. Makeig-Jones’s fascination with fairy tales and myths from around the world inspired her intricate designs featuring fairies, imps, and goblins. With these motifs—in jewel tones with gold-painted details—she embellished the interior and exterior surfaces of bowls, vases, cups, and boxes. Her Fairyland Lusterware also features iridescent glazes, produced through techniques that Makeig-Jones advanced.

Daisy Makeig-Jones was among the best-known ceramic designers in the early 20th century, a period when Wedgwood and other companies employed many women as designers and artisans. Makeig-Jones was born in Yorkshire, England, to a middle-class family that supported her artistic ambitions. Through family connections, Makeig-Jones introduced herself to Cecil Wedgwood, a partner in the Wedgwood firm, and she began an apprenticeship at the company in 1909. Beginning in 1914, Makeig-Jones worked as a lead designer with Wedgwood and began experimenting in both production and design.

With motifs inspired by contemporary illustrated fairy-tale books, Makeig-Jones’s Fairyland Lusterware became highly popular in the 1920s among fashionable collectors. Influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau style, Makeig-Jones’s ornamental wares stood apart from more streamlined works produced by Wedgwood and other firms during the same period. Featuring 38 objects from a private collection, Ceramics by Daisy Makeig-Jones examines the artist’s place in the history of decorative arts as well as her identity as a modern woman and artist.

Iridescent lusterware vase features gold cloisonne and an ornamental Art Nouveau design. Against a vibrant orange background, the long twisted trunks of forest trees surround the vessel. A blue bat circles the treetops, while a procession of odd cherubic figures descends along a draping vine.

Daisy Makeig-Jones, Vase, ca. 1929–31; Bone china with underglaze, luster, and gilding; Private collection; Photography by Lee Stalsworth

Exhibition Sponsors

Casting a Spell: Ceramics by Daisy-Makeig-Jones is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is generously supported by the members of NMWA.

Related Blog Post

The upcoming exhibition Casting a Spell: Ceramics by Daisy Makeig-Jones brings the magic of the 20th-century ceramic designer to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, May 1–August 16....
View of the museum from outside showing the Neoclassical building from one corner. The building is a tan-colored stone with an arched doorway, long vertical windows, and detailed molding around the roof.
Daisy Makeig-Jones, Empire bowl, ca. 1916–31; Bone china with underglaze; Private collection; Photography by Lee Stalsworth