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Verwoerd Ceramics Online   

Cornelis Verwoerd, Dutch Ceramist, modeler, and Delft painter

Cornelis Verwoerd (10 Feb 1913 - 19 Dec 2000) is born in Rotterdam, Netherlands. At an early age his family moves to Gouda. After leaving primary school he starts working as an errand boy for a local porcelain and pottery store, and is frequently asked to collect orders from the well known Gouda Pottery and Delft factory "Plateelbakkerij Zuid Holland" (PZH). In May 1927, at the age of 14, he joins PZH as a painter's apprentice and remains there until December 1931 when most painters loose their jobs due the Great Depression. He then successively works for Pipemakers and Delft factory "Zenith" of Gouda (1934), and "Plateelbakkerij Schoonhoven" of Schoonhoven (1937). After having served in the ill-prepared Dutch army that proved to be no match for the German Blitz Krieg forces, he returns to "Zenith" (1940) where he gets an opportunity to become a skilled modeler, i.e. a specialist of making plaster models and moulds. When the German occupation of Holland ends, Verwoerd has mastered all relevant aspects of his profession.

The Verwoerd Ceramics Studio (1949-1976)
After the Second World War he establishes his own ceramics workshop in Gouda by the name of "C.Verwoerd Keramiek Atelier", and specializes in the production of miniature Delft medallions for application in silver jewelry, like brooches, bracelets, and pendants. From day one Verwoerd has to cope with the already fast approaching wave of cheap reproduction methods. In doing so he manages to push the art of miniature Delft painting to a new level. His work stands out - even in comparison with other hand painted specimen - because of its painterly quality, and the delicate, non aggressive shades of blue. Nevertheless, the company ceases to exist after 27 years, when hand painted Delft medallions have become too expensive, and the workshop can no longer compete with transfer printed ceramics, and imported Asian "Delftware".

Miniature Clay Pipes & Contemporary Jewelry
Even before starting his workshop, Verwoerd ventures into miniature pipe making. The early models are quite coarse, and not as refined as his successful 1949 design that is the subject of our page on Miniature Clay Pipes. Soon, however, the demand for Delft medallions consumes all time and energy up to 1957 when a brief economic recession becomes the incentive for developing new products. In 1957 and 1958 the Verwoerd Ceramics Studio produces a small number of ceramic necklaces and bracelets that are especially designed to fit the female neckline and wrist, and that feature some exquisite glazing. For more details see Contemporary Art Jewelry. The project is quite successful in an artistic, but not in an economic sense, and is shelved after 1958 when the demand for Delft medallions recovers.