Thursday, September 29, 2011

Under the Deep Blue Sea - Ceramic Sea Creatures

I don't know if it's the little girl in me or my constant love of the ocean but I have always found these ceramic sea creatures from the 1950's, whimsical and fun. Especially the mermaids. Why is it that little girls are so smitten with mermaids? Venus and Ariel, Madison (remember the movie, Splash) and even the icon for Starbucks ~ a mermaid.  Girls just have a thing for mermaids.  Anyway, as a child, I use to imagine my arms stretching out, kind of like Gumby, giving me the ability to grasp in my tiny hands any object out of my reach.  It seemed that every bathroom in every home I ever visited had mermaids or tropical fish with bubbles or starfish or seahorses hanging on their walls.  How I wished I could hold them in my hands.  Gleaming iridescent colors, swishing tails, jeweled eyes or smiling pixie faces.  It didn't seem fair to me those magical creations were meant to adorn bathroom walls.

A Norcrest Mermaid ~ birthday gift from my sister, Vicki

It took fifty two years to get my first wall decor mermaid, a fine china beauty made by the well-known Japanese company, Norcrest.  A birthday gift from my dear sister, Vicki.

Norcrest labels have a tendency to lift, tear or fade over the years.  My mermaid has a clean example of a Norcrest label.
When I stared collecting vintage ceramic sea life, I wasn't familiar with the makers or the markings.  I had seen Cramicraft stamped on several pieces over the years but have yet to find any information on this company.  This is a Cramicraft tropical fish from my personal collection.  I purchased it at an antique store in the older part of downtown, Arroyo Grande, California.  I have to admit, I wasn't crazy about the color combo of this ceramic fish.  Yes, there are yellow and black fish swimming merrily in the waters off of Hawaii, I have seen them while snorkeling.  It wasn't the color which won me over, it was that one green jeweled eye.  Along with mermaids, girls also like sparkly things!

Cramicraft Tropical Fish ~ Wall Decor ~ on sale @ Ooh La La, Maui!
the mystery mark

I am not sure which is more frustrating, a piece with a label you can find no information on or a piece with no markings at all.  When I purchased the seahorse below it had three things going for it ~
it's blue, it's a seahorse and it's shiny  ~ but it has no markings.  

A shy expression on this sweet blue wall pocket Seahorse
For sale at Ooh La La, Maui!  (SOLD) 

Vintage Fish Vase ~  for sale at

And not all vintage ceramic sea life are wall decor.  This sassy yellow fish with the squinty "fishy" eyes, is actually a vase.   Or, how about a vintage shell vase for your tropical flowers ....  torch ginger, tuberose or pink anthuriums? 
for sale at BG's Classic Art Pottery and Ceramics online store

Reproduction Vintage Mermaids.....aren't they adorable?  Another gift from my sister, Vicki

Regardless of the size of your pocket book, there are ceramic sea creatures for every budget.  In Clovis, California, I found reproduction ceramic mermaids at an antique store for a very reasonable price.  Another birthday gift from my sister, Vicki (I think she has a thing for mermaids) are these two precious, child-like mermaids holding shells with delicate pink lining and small pearls.... also reproductions.  


Since Norcrest makes it's figurines with fine china, they do have a tendency to crack or break.  When considering buying a piece, regardless if it is Norcrest or another company, make sure you examine it with the upmost care.  Get out those Granny glasses if you have to.  Unfortunately, I have purchased several Occupied Japan (another blog) figurines and found them to be broken and glued back together.  Most antique stores and sellers online do not except returns.  So, buyer, beware of your wares!


Just a footnote.  Last week I blogged about a trip I was taking to Oahu.  I had a blast!  In all the adventure ~ climbing Diamond Head, collecting shells and sea glass on the North Shore, swimming in the calm waters off of Punaluu ~ I neglected to hit the thrift and consignment stores.

I did, however, make a purchase.  I bought a Sunrise Shell to make a necklace.  The Sunrise Shell can range from $35 to $500!  Mine is not of the best quality but I love it just the same.  The Sunrise Shell is somewhat rare.  Found along the northern shores of Kauai and Oahu, it is a scallop shell known as the Langford's Pecten.  Their colors vary but are mostly vibrant oranges and soft hot pinks.  It has been said only Hawaiian Royalty could wear these shells.  Now anyone can wear them.  Necklaces, earrings and rings!  You just have to find a deal (like me) or have the bucks to shell out (pardon the pun) to buy one.  It is also said that you'll be blessed if you find a Sunrise Shell washed up on the shore.  I don't need a shell to be blessed, to look pretty, yes.  Blessings are from above!

My watercolor of a Sunrise Shell

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