CANVASES, CARATS AND CURIOSITIES

Makeig-Jones, Daisy

2 minute read

An over-200-year-old company finds itself on the verge of financial ruin as war rages on. It's only savior an unknown artist who rises through the ranks by determination, persuasion and sheer talent, only to be fired when she has outlasted her usefulness.

Sounds more like soap-opera fodder than real life, but in 1915, porcelain artist Daisy Makeig-Jones' extraordinary line of Fairyland Lustre porcelain saved Wedgwood from bankruptcy during World War I. The design of each piece was rooted in fairytales that Makeig-Jones adored. Each literally burst with brilliant colors depicting scenes of nymphs, elves and fairies romping through enchanted forests and make-believe lands. With names like Imps on a Bridge, Woodland Elves and Jeweled Trees, the finest boutiques in the world were clamoring for these exquisite objets d'art to offer their customers.

From 1915 into the late 1920s, these luminous fancies put the company on top of their game, and set the stage for a rather dramatic downfall for Makeig-Jones. She worked her way up from a designer-in-training to designing her own product line, which was unheard of in the early part of the 20th century. But the fame soon got the best of her, as reports of her controlling attitude towards "her line" and fellow employees soon spread to Josiah Wedgwood V, the company head at the time. In 1931, Makeig-Jones was asked, then told, to retire, and she refused. Finally, threatened with being fired, she left in a torrent rage, literally smashing every single piece of work she possibly could on her way out.

Whether history deems her as a misunderstood eccentric or simply overbearing, there is no denying the splendor of her incredible works. Her legacy is one of creativity and innovation. No one has since made such a lasting impression in the ceramic or porcelain arts. Fairyland Lustre was in production for just over a decade, so relatively few pieces were created. What exists today are wondrous works of art that collectors world-wide search intently for since a scarce few ever come on the market.

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