Using traditional earthenware clays and glazes, each piece is hand built or hand thrown on the potter's wheel, then embellished with the folk techniques of sgraffito, sliptrailing, combing, and/or the application of hand stamped clay sprigs. The pottery is fired in a kiln, glazed, and fired a second time to over 2000º Fahrenheit. This hand crafting process guarantees slight variations in size, form, color, and decoration making each piece unique.
: This body of work reflects a solid understanding of traditional construction and decoration techniques peculiar to red clay wares, with a particular focus on English folk pottery of the 17th century and wares produced by designer/craftsmen in the early 20th century. I utilize these techniques and design influences to create a personal, contemporary vision within this tradition.
: In 1970 while studying ceramics at Wayne State University, Ron Geering was hired by The Edison Institute (Henry Ford Museum, a decorative arts museum and Greenfield Village, a living history museum and historic building collection) to work with craftsman Don Kaake to demonstrate and reproduce early American pottery. They chose to recreate the processes and wares of the slipware potteries active in England and America in the late 17th and 18th centuries. The 1970’s was an interesting period inthe arts culture of America. Many of the crafts were being “rediscovered” or “revived”. The emphasis in the revival in ceramics was on reduction fired stoneware. This interest in the production of low-fired earthenware made a radical departure from the contemporary ceramic scene, much as it does today. There was very little written information available on the processes of the slipware potters in America and England. The major reference work was a catalogue of the Burnap collection in Kansas City and a few oblique references in antique and ceramic reference books. Working within the museum environment and using excellent examples from the museum’s collection, Ron immersed himself in reproducing the work of the past, using research and experimentation to reconstruct the traditional techniques of sliptrailing, marbling, sgraffito, and feather combing. While he loved the decorating techniques, he realized that pure reproduction does not allow the pottery style to grow and adapt to contemporary sensibilities. Ron Geering’s goal was to work within what was left of the living tradition of slipware pottery, bring it up to date, and then push the limits of design and technique to make a personal contribution to that tradition.
Parallel to this investigation of slipware pottery, Ron had an interest in historic metalwork and the revival of the craft of wrought iron. He started this work through college studies with Philip Fike and used the resources of the Edison Institute to learn the basics of forging iron. Soon he used these acquired skills and knowledge to move to Aspen, Colorado to work with the “Dean of American Blacksmiths” Francis Whitaker and created decorative and functional ironwork for the rock and roll stars and movie moguls who live in the Aspen area. In 1985, Ron was asked by Plimoth Plantation to establish an historically accurate blacksmith’s forge for their 1627 Pilgrim Village and create reproductions of metal work and pottery for use in the Pilgrim Village and onboard Mayflower II in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Since little is known of the pottery used in early 17th Century America, Ron was sent to England to research the pottery types being produced there and exported to America. The research included investigating museum collections across England and visiting traditional country potters working in earthenware. Out of this research trip came a deep understanding of post-medieval ceramics, and a recommitment to the study of slipware potteries. At this time Ron Geering began to develop his distinctive line of traditionally inspired, yet contemporary, earthenware.
After leaving Plimoth Plantation, Ron embarked on a period of product and museum exhibit design working with Reed and Barton Silversmiths, Burnes of Boston, the Children’s Museum of Rhode Island, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and Partylite Gifts Inc. His work enabled him to visit museums, craft workshops and factories in Portugal, Mexico, Germany, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, and Romania. He still enjoys free-lance work for these companies; designing products in ceramics, metal, wood, resin, and glass to be manufactured and sold all over the world .
In 1993, Ron Geering was recognized as one of the top traditional craftsmen in America by Early American Life magazine. Their annual evaluation of craftwork is determined by “fidelity to period style, quality of craftsmanship, and ability to increase in value over time.” He has been continuously included in this select group since 1993. In 1999 his work was represented in the national invitational exhibit “Redware: Tradition and Beyond”, the first exhibit of contemporary redware in decades. He was also asked to create an ornament for the official White House Christmas tree, celebrating the nation’s heritage of traditional crafts. Today the R. Geering Pottery produces wares strongly influenced by historical examples, interpreting traditional craftwork in a personal, contemporary way. The pieces are still easy recognizable as belonging to the slipware tradition but are enhanced by the unique experience and sensibilities of the artist/craftsman.