Facts About Clarice Cliff: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

If you like bright colors and geometric shapes, you'll love the work of artist Clarice Cliff. In this lesson, you'll learn about Clarice Cliff's life, her famous pottery, and her art career.

A City of Potteries

Clarice Cliff was a very famous designer of dishes and decorative household items from the early part of the 20th century. She came from a working-class family; her parents both worked in the pottery factories that were all around her hometown of Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, England. She was born in 1899 into a large family, and had seven brothers and sisters.

Clarice Cliff

Clarice went to school when she was young, but left school at the age of 13 to begin working in a pottery factory. In an interview she gave when she was older, she said that because of where she was born, in a city that was filled with potteries, ''there is little to do on leaving school except to work in a factory.''

Starting From the Bottom

Clarice was lucky and was hired to be a pottery decorator, which was one of the less messy and better-paying jobs in the factories. To become a decorator, she had to agree to work for seven years as an apprentice, learning how to do the different types of decorations.

Apprentices weren't paid very much; because they were just learning and ruined some of the pottery, they only got a little pay for each piece of pottery they decorated. It wasn't until they finished their seven years of training, at about the age of 21, that they would finally be paid the full amount for each piece of pottery they decorated.

Clarice Cliff mugs

Clarice started as a gilder, which meant she added gold paint to the designs on plates and other pottery. She later became an enameler; she painted a special type of paint onto the pottery that, when baked at high temperatures, would become shiny and glass-like.

Clarice's beautiful work was noticed, and she was sent to get more schooling at the Royal College of Art. When she came back to the factory, they gave her a studio and assistants, and she could begin to use her own designs for the pottery.


In 1927, Clarice developed a new design for pottery that was unique and unlike anything that had been made before. The pottery was called ''Bizarre,'' and it featured bright colors and modern shapes. When the pottery was put up for sale the next year, it became extremely popular. Eventually, over 8.5 million pieces of Bizarre pottery were sold!

A Clarice Cliff mug in the Bizarre pattern

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