Fat lava is the name given to certain styles of postwar, West German art pottery, particularly from the 1960s and ’70s. The genre gets its name from the thick, encrusted glazes that typify many of these pieces, some of which look as if their surfaces are composed of frozen flows of lava in radioactive hues ranging from fiery reds to cobalt blues. While the glazes were referred to at the time as lava glazes, the “fat” designation is more recent, the result of the public’s particular fascination with pieces whose glazes are especially thick and textured.

Fat lava objects include large floor vases, smaller straight-sided jugs (some with ring handles near their mouths), and sculptural pieces that appear to have been chiseled and sliced, creating juxtapositions of smooth and gnarled surfaces. Some fat lava pieces seem to be outgrowths of the macrame-and-raku aesthetic of 1960s hippie culture, while others have a postmodern, almost pop-culture look to them, sporting deliberately childlike designs like flowers, some rendered in deep relief.

The most prolific fat lava ceramics factories of the period include Bay, Carstens, Jasba, Spara, Scheurich, and Ubelacker. Other well-regarded makers were Jopeko, Klein, Otto, Roth, and Ruscha.


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