When is a material thing more than just a thing? The question was posed, pondered, and wept over in millions of homes throughout Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico during the late summer, when massive hurricanes washed away the contents of entire houses and damaged personal items later piled on the curb. A New York Times reporter told the story of Shirley Hines, a Houston flood victim devastated by the loss of six Fitz & Floyd red and white coffee cups, which had been passed down from her mother. Touched by Hines’s story, a stranger in Maryland tracked down a replacement set and sent it to Hines, who cradled the new cups, fighting back tears, her treasure restored.

 
 
 
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In this context, reading Wedgwood: A Story of Creation and Innovation by Gaye Blake-Roberts (Rizzoli, 2017) offers a fresh appreciation for beautiful things, the connections we make to them, and the meaning they can infuse in our lives. Josiah Wedgwood’s designs—from the simplest teapot to the most elaborate ballroom—seen here in archived watercolors and jaw-dropping photography, illustrate a commitment to craftsmanship and a passion for design that endures, inspires, and resonates more than 250 years later. Treasured items, indeed.


By Kirk Reed Forrester

wedgwood book

Wedgwood: A Story of Creation and Innovation by Gaye Blake-Roberts (Rizzoli, 2017)

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Masters of Clay, Metal, Paper, and Sugar