Mid Century Pot Maker My Father William Daley

by Barbara Schwab

William Daley arranging Abacus clay tiles in a trial installation for the IBM Wall, Brussels World Fair, 1962.

When I was in Grade school we had moved to a new school. The children at the bus stop asked what my Father did. This imbued some sort of status, but I was doomed as I proudly said my father makes Pots. Immediately I was called Pot maker.

Two pots from the NYU Show, 1956. Earthenware with copper matte glaze.

They interpreted pot maker to mean that my father made pots and pans. I tried to explain, but it was futile. I went through elementary as “Pot maker”. This was one of the first realizations that I was different and that we led a secret life of art. Most people didn’t understand. If you were with people on the inside of this society of art and art education you were a celebrity.

Recently my Dad and I had the opportunity to work together to design a book of his work “William Daley Ceramic Artist” was published in 2013. I designed the book, as my first career is Graphic Design, and my new career is this crazy furniture business. The book is a treasure trove of ideas, and wonderful visuals of many of the things he has made, as well as his thoughts on art education.

"Columbine", 1960 by William Daley. Clay and wood sculpture.

When I started on the project of the book I thought it would take a year, in reality it was closer to 4. I think we all underestimate what it takes to complete such things, or we would never start in the first place. This turned out to be an opportunity to remember many of the projects that we as a family participated in, as Dad’s studios were mostly in our home basement or garage.

My Dad had his 90th birthday on March 7, 2015. My brother was also born on the same day. He was my Father’s best Birthday present ever. Dad and Mom are still living in their beautiful turn of the century white clapboard home in Elkins Park, PA.

Covered Jars, 1953 by William Daley.

A lot of what I know about beautiful objects and furniture I learned from my Dad. Making aesthetic and creative decisions was an everyday event in our house. I want to share a few of the images from the book that relate to the mid century modern period of time that he was making beautiful works. I encourage you to buy a copy of the book at his website http://www.williamdaley.net/



Various pots by William Daley, 1958-59, glazed stoneware. Shown at Pace Gallery, Boston, MA  1959.

Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock,
AR Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, WI
Clayarch Gimhae Museum, Gimhae, South Korea
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Minneapolis Arts Institute, Minneapolis, MN
Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
The Saint Louis Museum of Art, MO
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England